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I do like to be beside the seaside

Seatoun 3, Upper Hutt City 2
Seatoun Park, Wellington, July 6 2014

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This was the first time, out of hundreds of visits over the years, that I have stayed in Wellington with the benefit of a car to drive and the complete freedom to go and do whatever I want. This gave me a whole new perspective our nation’s capital. While it’s a walking and public transport city primarily, and picking your way around it in a car isn’t always easy, being able to properly explore without worrying about fitness or the logistics of bus-routes meant that I could access parts of the place I never really knew existed previously. Consequently this was my first ever visit to Seatoun and, I gotta say, I’m besotted both with the place itself and the football I found there.

It’s its own little world. You emerge from the tunnel that is the main route in, into a sort of alternate reality. I have been struggling to think what it reminded me of ever since yesterday’s game, but at the moment I’m settling for a cross between Piha (atmosphere), the Auckland suburb of Kingsland (architechture) and the Italian Riviera (geography). I am very keen to spend some more time there in the near future, and in particular sample the little ‘trattoria’ I spotted, but sadly on this trip it was straight in to cover the game and straight back out again.

But what an interesting game it was!

It was must-win for the home side. They sit second on the women’s Central League table, only two points behind pace setters Massey, but the Palmerston North ladies have a game in hand so to lose today would have been a real nail in the coffin for the title race. Upper Hutt are currently fifth out of eight teams, but only three points from second to last so they too needed points to stop any potential slide down the ladder.

The main difference between the two teams that I noticed, apart from the colour clash of the shirts (thank goodness I hadn’t been drinking the night before) was pace. Seatoun had speed to burn down the flanks, in particular from Annie Olssen – their very quick and agile looking centre forward. Whenever they played a long ball forward, even when the defender in Orange seemed to have a good head-start, the race more often than not was won by an attacker. This saw Upper Hutt’s star keeper, Cushla Lichtwark, in one-on-one situations with oncoming players on so many occasions that I lost count. The thing was though, she somehow managed to pull off a save almost every time. Some of them were thanks to the shot coming straight at her, but a lot of others were in the “how the #%$* did she do that” category!

As the first half wore on however, the pressure did tell and when Olssen struck twice in a short space of time it was one of those “here we go, it’s going to be a cricket score”, kind of feelings. That never eventuated thankfully, and when Bria Sargent smashed a free kick from miles out straight into the Seatoun net, it was game on again. 2-1 was the half time score.

The two goal cushion was restored for the home team just after the break however, when Libby Elliott added her name to the score sheet, reigniting thoughts of cricket scores… But no, thanks to more Lichtwark heroics it remained 3-1 until about 10 minutes from the end, when it was Upper Hutt’s Emily Morrison who was able to knock one into an open net and set up a grandstand finish.

But despite their tails being well and truly up right through to the final whistle, sadly for Upper Hutt they couldn’t manage to nick an equaliser and 3-2 was the final score.

Seatoun were quite perceptibly just that little cut above and would have won by many more if it wasn’t for all that handiwork between the sticks by Lichtwark, but isn’t football a funny game?  The best side doesn’t always prosper, even though it did ultimately prevail in the end on this occasion. It’s that unpredictability that is one of the game’s greatest virtues. Just like coming out of the tunnel on the way to Seatoun Park and discovering a whole new world, the football I found on the other side proved that this game can still surprise me after all this time. That’s a pretty cool gift to take back to Auckland with me.

Categories: NZ Women's Central/W-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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