Claudelands Rovers 2, Forrest Hill Milford 3
Galloway Park, Hamilton, June 29 2014
Sometimes when I’m on my way to a football game, all I’m hoping for is an exciting game with a close result. From now on I’ll be a bit more careful what I wish for.
I often seem to be attracted to big blowouts like a moth to a flame. Look back over the straplines of my posts and you won’t find very many that were decided by less than a two goal margin. But not yesterday, and not last weekend. Over the past couple of days I have witnessed two dramatic come from behind victories and, while I don’t want to seem ungrateful for getting my wish, I do have to say I’m not overly thrilled about either of them and I’m especially miffed about this latter of the two. As a fan of all teams Waikato, this one hurt almost as much as Italy getting knocked out of the World Cup did.
At least nobody can complain about the excitement factor – spectators got their money’s worth and then some. Ok, so the only people paying to be there were the players, but I would still have said that even if there was a $100 entry charge!
Going in you would have had to have said Forrest Hill Milford were well and truly the favourites. The two league meetings between these two sides this season have both yielded comfortable victories to the Swans. The caveat on that though, would be the fact that Rovers haven’t been at full strength, in particular last time they met when Helen Collins was on Football Ferns duty.
This time Rovers had all hands on deck, including Sarah McLaughlin on the bench as she continues her comeback from the dreaded ACL injury that has kept her out for around a year, and it was FHM who were missing a star forward in Emma Rolston who spent most of the game on the bench. With those two adjustments it was remarkable how all of a sudden these two sides were quite evenly matched as the usually dominant team in white found themselves in the unaccustomed position of not everything going their own way.
Rovers hit the lead quite early on with a spectacular Kate Loye shot back over her head with her back to the goal, and despite the visitors making most of the play by and large, Claudelands doubled their advantage right before the break thanks to a Rebecca Brown header.
Going into half time with a 2-0 cushion over the competition heavyweights might have given Rovers a lot of confidence that they could go on and get the win, but I doubt they would have felt complacent. As dominant as they were on the scoresheet, on the pitch it was still a pretty even game to the extent that I Tweeted at the time that this was still anyone’s. If I’d known how prophetic that was going to be I wouldn’t have done it…
After the break came the big turning point. A promising looking Claudelands attack was snuffed out to cries from the reds of “hand ball!” Their minds may still have been on that percieved injustice when FHM grabbed possession, took it straight down to the edge of the Claudelands penalty area and won a free kick, which resulted in an Emily Jensen goal. Moments later Megan Lee had made it 2-2, and just like that, we were back where we started.
Sometimes when a team has lost a good lead, instead of composing themselves and starting again as if it’s 0-0, they can look a bit like they are forcing it, trying to play ‘catch-up’ when they are not behind. If I have a criticism of Claudelands from this point on it would be that. You can’t knock the number of shots on goal they got in though, and the only two reasons they didn’t retake the lead was a stop off the line from Nicole Stratford and a brilliant performance from keeper Lily Alfeld which I would say was good enough for man of the match.
Unfortunately from a Rovers perspective, instead of regaining their advantage Claudelands conceded with around 15 minutes left when Kate Seatter chipped the keeper, and despite still more Claudelands chances to take us to extra time towards the end, and a determined looking cameo appearance from Sarah McLaughlin, they simply couldn’t quite get it done.
When people say that football is a cruel game, this is what they are talking about. I’d hate to see what it felt like from a Claudelands player’s point of view.
From a Forrest Hill Milford perspective on the other hand, onwards they march once again! How many more times will I write that this year? One thing’s for sure, it’s now looking fairly likely that my mission to follow the winner of each tie I attend in this competition will culminate in me witnessing the Swans of Forrest Hill lift the trophy!
Categories: NZ Kate Sheppard Cup
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/