Waitakere City 2, Ngaruawahia United 1
Fred Taylor Park, Auckland, April 25 2014
Another day, another public holiday! ANZAC Day this time. The day when New Zealand commemorates those who have given their lives in war zones around the world over the past century and a half. One of the beauties of ANZAC Day is after the dawn services and parades at war memorials in every town and suburb up and down the country are finished and the tea and scones are all devoured, the shops open at 1pm and normal life resumes, and this includes a full afternoon of NRFL to choose from. Because what better way to honour the sacrifice of our fallen soldiers than to use the freedom they fought for, and the day we all get off work to celebrate it, by standing next to a muddy paddock watching some guys kick a ball around?
I decided to make life easy on myself with my choice of match today. Fred Taylor Park is only ten minutes’ drive from home and the bottom of the table Premier League relegation scrap taking place there did look rather tasty on paper so off I dragged myself from the couch at twenty to three and headed up the road to check out the action.
I was a completely neutral observer at this one, of course. The fact that I am a big Ngaruawahia fan, was wearing a Ngaruawahia shirt at the game (thanks to the club for very kindly giving it to me!) and cheering loudly for Ngaruawahia all through the match should not be taken as any indication of who I wanted to see win (Ngaruawahia). I am of course, a consummate professional and I would never let any personal feelings buried deep, deep, deep down inside where nobody would ever guess where they are, myself included, interfere with my completely neutral coverage of a game as important as this. So given that, here is my one sentence summary of the match:
We woz robbed!
Except, we weren’t really. Well… we kind of were but we really weren’t. Ok, so it’s a three sentence summary but I’m sure you catch my drift. Or not.
Allow me to explain. Firstly as we all know sometimes the score doesn’t tell the story, and it didn’t really today I’m sad to say. All the scoring happened in the first half an hour or so, as Waitakere dominated possession and time in the attacking third from the get go. It was only about five minutes into the match when the first blow was struck, a free kick beautifully taken by Waitakere’s Atlaaf Sahib that curled its way into the back of the net leaving Ngara keeper Andy McNeil with little chance. Then not long after that there was another goal from Sahib, utilizing an altogether different skill by placing a dinky little header from outside the six yard box over McNeil and in, leaving Ngaruawahia reeling at 2-0 down.
The Green Machine fought their way back a bit after that to the point where a Ben Latham shot bounced back to pretty much where it had been kicked from in the first place, where Matt Williams was there to muscle in on his captain’s glory by pouncing to make it 2-1. In theory this gave the visitors a sniff, but in reality that goal was their one and only real chance of the game that I can remember. There is a caveat on that assessment however…
Firstly, at the end of the first half a fairly debateable Mathew Chatterton tackle on Marcelo Sosa left the Ngaruawahia player down with an injury to his leg that saw him take no further part in the match after that point. Chatterton received a yellow card which some might find charitable on the referee’s part. The player protested even that, pleading his innocence on the grounds that each and every player in a similar situation will always argue all the way to the Privy Council – he got the ball.
But whatever you think of that, the real controversy came in the second half, (and this is where the ‘we woz robbed’ perspective comes into play), when Ngaruawahia in my completely and utterly (yadda yadda yadda) unbiased opinion should have had a penalty. I and many others clearly saw the Waitakere defender’s subtle shove in the back of Reid Drake, sending him to the ground well and truly inside the area. If it wasn’t for the push I doubt he’d have scored as the ball was getting away from him a bit anyway, but never the less a foul is a foul and it should have been given. That would have probably made the score 2-2 and kept Ngara off the bottom of the table.
The reality was though, Waitak were the better side and if they had been more clinical in front of goal they would have converted at least a small percentage of the numerous chances they themselves had to score and it would have been a more comfortable win for the home side. So I do think in the end, despite the fact it should have been a draw, justice was served by it not being one. Does that make sense? No? Excellent.
It won’t be long now and all the Waitakere City players who have been on O League duty with Waitakere United will be back on deck and we all know what happens then… Ngaruawahia will need to find some improvement fast if they are going to avoid the drop. As I would hope they would if I wasn’t such a neutral observer…
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier
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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/