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The devil you don’t know

NZ Under 17 Selection 1, Football South 2
Auckland Football Federation 1, Waikato Bay of Plenty 0
William Green Domain, Auckland, 27 October 2013

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Two things said to me on the side-lines stand out about today. The first was as the Under 17 v Football South game was part way through the second half. A WaiBOP player wandered past, asking if Auckland goal machine Rebecca Tegg was playing today. I was able to confirm she was not, to which the player let out a WOOHOO and did a celebratory dance! The second thing that stands out was said as I was leaving the ground at the end of the Auckland v WaiBOP game – a spectator yelled out “hey mate, don’t forget that it’s Trowill with two ‘L’s!

The moral of the story: you can never rest on your laurels when Auckland is missing a player, in any sport – Auckland teams always have depth. That’s what comes with the luxury of having over a million people to draw on. And so it was today.

But first thing’s first. The earlier game was worth commenting on, even if my camera wasn’t really behaving itself in the gloomy weather, and so I didn’t get much in the way of photos of it.

Here was a classic case of, in football, the best team doesn’t always win – that’s why we love this game so much! The Under 17’s thoroughly dominated possession and chances throughout the entirety of the contest. However it was Football South who were able to put their chances in the back of the net, most notably their first, a particularly elegant chip over the keeper’s head from distance by number 11 Sam Muirhead. That was the equaliser, and it saw them go into the break with the score at 1-1.

Muirhead scored again in the 70th minute, and South clung on for the final 20 minutes for grim death, getting their reward as the final whistle blew and they celebrated as though they’d just won the league – a very happy bunch of campers indeed. It was lovely to see. A very hard fought and richly deserved victory a very long way from home.

The Auckland v WaiBOP game wasn’t actually too dissimilar in a lot of ways, except on this occasion the better side prevailed in the end, although it didn’t always look like it would necessarily be the case. I’m glad I stuck around for WaiBOP this week, as they were an improved defensive side from last week, although they were still under a heck of a lot of pressure for most of the game. Luckily for them, in the first half Auckland were rather toothless up front with golden chance after golden chance squandered in front of goal. The home side could have easily led by a few at the break but for a combination of their wastefulness and a much improved WaiBOP goalkeeping display.

At half time though, the required change was made and Auckland brought on Fencibles striker Steph Trowill to debut on her home pitch for her federation. From that point on, it felt like WaiBOP’s fate, I’m sorry to say, was inevitably going to be sealed. I have watched Steph play a few times, and this was easily the best performance I’ve seen from her. She worked hard, didn’t shy away from anything, and looked hungry for goals. She was marauding down the right flank, taking players on, cutting inside and firing shots away again and again until she found her range and the winner was dispatched. Job done. Rebecca who? Next time they play WaiBOP, their opponents might be hoping that Tegg is playing…

Next week, I’ll be down in Christchurch for Mainland vs Auckland, courtesy of the Labour Party who were kind enough to schedule Annual Conference for a weekend when there is some quality footy on in town that I can sneak away to. I don’t know what I’m looking forward to more, policy workshops, or the battle of the young guns between Trowill and Merrin! Kidding, of course. I do know what I’m looking forward to more, and it’s sure as hell not the annual debate and subsequent card vote on compulsory third party car insurance.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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