Auckland City 3, WaiBOP United 1
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, November 17 2013
Yeah, yeah, yeah I know I said I’d go to Auckland vs Central in the National Women’s League today, and I know I’ve been whinging for months on here about how uninspiring the ASB Premiership is these days but, despite all that, today I felt inspired enough to flag ‘Plan A’ and go to an ASB Premiership game instead. I feel a bit guilty about it because Central is the only NWL team I haven’t seen play yet, and there won’t be another opportunity to rectify that injustice until next season, so I owe them a sincere apology for abandoning them. However, I am a fan first and a fair and unbiased blogger a distant second, and the lure of a WaiBOP United side that on last week’s performance might be a realistic shout for a semi-final berth this season won out over a league that WaiBOP are out of the running for.
At the risk of making more promises I might not keep, I’ve decided for the time being to follow WaiBOP around over the summer and go to as many of their games as I can. I make no bones about the fact that they are my team, and blogging about them from the perspective of a fan is more likely to sustain me though the summer, when there’s not a lot of other football on to choose from, than trying to cover all teams equally and finding myself at games I really don’t care about.
I will come back to the ladies if and when there is a semi-final and/or final in Auckland. Assuming higher placed teams get home play-offs and my maths is correct (never a safe assumption), we are likely to have an Auckland final in three weeks’ time, but probably not a semi. So that means for the next two weeks I’ll be taking in WaiBOP United vs Hawkes Bay in Cambridge next week, and vs Wanderers (the U20s – what’s with the name? *shrug*) at North Habour the week after.
As for today, talking to other WaiBOP supporters before the game, there seemed to be a general consensus that if we were to only lose by about 3-1 to the Oceania champions, it would be a good day at the office. Several different people at completely different times and without consulting each other gave me that exact score line. Nobody will come away from Kiwitea with points, so there’s no shame if we don’t. If I had been able to go back and ask those exact same people what they thought after the game, I guarantee you there would have also been uniformity in their answers then. They would have all said something along very similar lines to this: We woz robbed!
And we sort of were I suppose, although not entirely on reflection. After a perfect start, a precious goal to WaiBOP inside the first couple of minutes, Auckland settled down nicely. While they weren’t playing particularly well by their standards, they still dominated possession, just finding it tough to get much penetration in the final third. They toiled away though and finally got their reward deep into first half injury time. This was a pity for WaiBOP because I thought the Auckland players were starting to look a little bit irritated with their lot in life. If we’d kept them scoreless for a bit longer into the second stanza, they just might have let their frustrations get the better of them. Not to be though.
Then the second half very nearly started exactly the same way as the first. WaiBOP had the Auckland defence scrambling and how on earth they didn’t score I’ll never know. They should really have had two in the second half in all fairness, so to be blunt they only had themselves to blame for that side of the equation. Unfortunately on the goals conceded front however, there was an Auckland penalty that I’m buggered if I could see what it was for. Could someone who was closer to it explain it to me? Because from where I was standing (admittedly down the other end) it didn’t even look like the “foul” was committed inside the box… Auckland’s third goal was a quality finish but I couldn’t help but feel like it wouldn’t have occurred in the absence of the morale blow that was the dodgy pen.
Not to worry however. With a first up win against Canterbury and now this very encouraging effort against the best team in the league, the signs are there that this could be the first season in a very, very, very long time that Waikato and Bay of Plenty supporters will in the near future have something worth cheering about at men’s national league level. I thought the body language of the team after the game was a vast improvement on previous seasons. While the fans might have been expecting a loss, the hurt on some of the players faces suggested that they genuinely wanted the result and were gutted they didn’t get it. It will be interesting to see how they react next week.
Actually, on closer inspection I must admit that penalty call doesn’t look so bad:
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.