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Oh, good grief!

Wanderers SC 3, WaiBOP United 3
North Harbour Stadium, December 1 2013

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If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times… No, really, I’ve said it at least a thousand times… Probably more like ten thousand actually. Following Waikato sport is all about learning to cope with misery. Although this wasn’t really as miserable as it was disappointing, and I don’t mean I was disappointed with the players, or the officials – more that I was disappointed with myself. I should know better by now than to allow myself to be lulled into such a false sense of security. But like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, believing over and over again that this time Lucy won’t pull it away, I thought this was going to be the first three points I have seen a Waikato team collect in the ASB Premiership since I started blogging two and a half years ago. But no, of course it was cruelly snatched away in the last minute of injury time after the 90.

It was Wanderers who hit the lead first with an early goal courtesy of Ben Thomas, but from that point on, WaiBOP looked the better of the two sides for the vast bulk of the game. The equaliser came via Milos Nikolic, and then Masaki Nomoto ensured that the visitors held a one goal lead by half time. They could have had more too. Then early in the second half Manko doubled WaiBOP’s lead and the game looked all but won, even after Wanderers pulled one back via Elijah Neblett. It was an ill-tempered affair at times though and one sensed during the second half that the chances of the game finishing with 22 players on the pitch weren’t good. Unfortunately it was WaiBOP who cracked first and after Marcel Corbera’s second yellow, the flow of the game changed and it became a case of the Waikato Bay of Plenty side needing to hold on tight to defend their points.

Even then it looked as though after the 90 were up and we were deep into injury time, that the elusive win was as good as earned. Until Andy McNeil came rushing off his line to punch a ball away and connected with the face of Wanderer Stuart Holthusen with time all but up. Nick Sugden converted with his second bite after his initial shot was parried back into his path by McNeill.

Debate will rage as to whether it was a fair penalty or not. All I know is Holthusen was dripping a fair bit of blood afterwards so there is no doubt contact was made, but WaiBOP fans argue their man won the ball fairly. I’m sitting on the fence on this one. I will say this though – WaiBOP seem to have a serious issue with conceding in injury time! Take the injury time goals away and they would have had three points today and a point two weeks ago from the Auckland City game and their season thus far would have a very different look to it.

I’d love to be in Cambridge for the very winnable game vs Southern this coming weekend, but instead Auckland will be hosting the National Women’s League final between Northern Football and Mainland Pride and I wouldn’t miss that for the world. If WaiBOP win without me, the possibility may arise that I am the problem, hexing them with my very presence! This theory may be somewhat put to the test in a fortnight’s time when I plan to watch them take on Waitakere United. They’d better win then in case team management click on to this voodoo and consider banning me from the games. Although there would be an upside of this… The lower blood pressure could add years to my life.

Categories: NZ Men's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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