Papakura City 2, Western Springs 1
McLennan Park, Auckland, July 7 2013
“That’s right, R-2. We’re going to the Dagobah System. I have a promise to keep… to an old friend.”
– Luke Skywalker
A week and a half ago, in a moment of weakness during a wonderful pasta dinner (and a fine bottle of Chianti) at Gina’s Italian Kitchen, I promised owner Alessandro Fantoni, who also happens to be the coach of the Western Springs Women’s Premier team, that I would head along to his side’s Women’s Knockout Cup game that weekend. Sadly, I was struck down with something following the Chatham Cup match last Saturday and was therefore in no position to go anywhere on the Sunday. I felt bad about breaking my promise, and didn’t want to be in Alex’s bad books for too long considering his food is so yummy, so today I attempted to make up for it by heading out to the Dagobah of South Auckland, Papakura City’s number 4 pitch, where the home side was playing Springs in a Northern Regional Football League relegation 6 pointer.
The pitch was a fairly rough bumpy affair and didn’t really do much to aid the flow of the game. I lost count of the number of times the ball took an awkward bounce off the surface, changed direction and led to a miskick or turnover in possession. It didn’t favour one side or the other necessarily but it also didn’t make for a very enjoyable spectacle. It wasn’t just the pitch though, these two sides are second to last and last for a reason and the skill level wasn’t brilliant. The match was a pretty scrappy midfield battle that neither side particularly dominated although Papakura did enjoy the lion’s share of possession and opportunities in the first half. Their opening goal, when it came about five minutes shy of the break, was a deserved reward for their toil. However when the visitors won a free kick seconds before the half time whistle, they made the most of the set piece opportunity and drew the scores level.
Springs started the second half a lot more brightly and put a fair amount of pressure on the Papakura defence, forcing a couple of useful saves out of the keeper. For a while it looked like simply a matter of time before the green hoops took the lead. Kura absorbed the pressure though and seemed to wake from their slumber midway through the second half and begin to create a few opportunities of their own. The deadlock was finally broken a few minutes from the end when a Papakura shot was hit above the Springs keeper’s head. She seemed to have it covered but it slipped between her hands and that, cruelly, may have doomed her side to relegation.
It’s a difficult scuffle brewing at the bottom of the league. The twelve team competition breaks into two next weekend with points carried forward. The top six contest a division one and the bottom six a division 2 where half will be relegated to the AFF/NFF conference or the WaiBOP Federation League for next season. For Western Springs, a recent powerhouse of the women’s game in New Zealand, this prospect was already getting all too real as they sat rock bottom of the table, four points behind Papakura going into this one. A win could have put them right back in contention for an escape route. Instead sadly the loss sees them seven points back, clinging on by their fingernails while watching today’s victors find themselves only one point from safety with destiny firmly in their own hands.
After the game I enjoyed a brief chat with the winning coach, Papakura’s Jill Fromont, who seemed cautiously optimistic about the road ahead for her side. (Apologies for the poor sound quality in this one…)
I must also apologise for the lack of captions on today’s photos. I wasn’t able to get hold of the team sheets of both sides so was unable to name all the players photographed. My motto has always been do it properly or don’t bother…
Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.