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Number two

Forrest Hill Milford 2, Coastal Spirit 1
Becroft Park, Auckland, July 20 2014

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What makes a good game of football? There are obviously lots of factors. The team you support winning is an obvious prerequisite, and if it’s a come-from-behind victory then all the better. A close contest with both sides displaying an attacking mentality obviously helps, or if it’s defence that floats your boat you enjoy the intricacies of interesting chess like tactics. A crushing victory by 4 goals or more can also be particularly sweet, if it’s over a hated rival. When adversity has been overcome, such as going on to win despite losing a player to a red card, a victory becomes extra special, laced with that feeling of righteousness that justice was served after all.

But if you had to choose one thing and one thing only that makes any game of football truly unforgettable every single time it happens, it’s surely impossible to go past a goal in the dying seconds that changes the result. All the emotions that run through you all at once – shock, relief, disbelief, elation, and when it happens to be a semi-final or final that this occurs in, double the emotion, triple it. A good game of football is like a good book, with tension slowly building and building drawing you in further and further until finally leading you towards a climactic plot twist at the end that leaves you buzzing.

The Women’s Knockout Cup semi-final at Becroft last weekend was the resumption of my vow to follow the winner of every cup tie I attend this season right through to the final. For this competition, the odyssey began out at Huapai where Norwest dispatched Hibiscus Coast back in May. Then I saw Claudelands beat Norwest in Hamilton two weeks later, then at the end of June I saw Forrest Hill come from 2-0 behind to send Claudelands packing 3-2. That last game must have been exciting for a neutral or an FHM fan, but I was neither. This game I was in a much better position to appreciate a great clash.

Defending champs Coastal Spirit were a little understrength with Football Fern Annalie Longo on the bench, and that’s without mentioning the one or two of their former players that they were forced to endure adding considerably to the opposing side… A virtual Junior Football Ferns side, Forrest Hill were warm favourites and looked like it. They dominated possession for most of the match as Coastal spent a fair amount of it under siege with shots rattling crossbars and whizzing past the outside of posts.

It was no great surprise therefore when Daisy Cleverley stabbed home the opening goal just after half time. But this was knockout football and one of the things we all know and love about this format is that anything can happen. This proved so when Laura Merrin curled one in straight off a corner to restore the equilibrium.

A temporary setback for FHM, perhaps? Well, the other thing we know and love about knockout football is the team that holds out against relentless attack can often get their reward via extra time and penalties and that’s exactly where this game was headed right through to deep, deep, deep into the fourth and final minute of injury time after 90 minutes. FHM had had numerous chances to put the game to bed, but had spurned them all and it looked like Coastal Spirit were all set to reap the benefits when all of a sudden Emma ‘Rollo’ Rolston stunned the South Island visitors with an effective golden goal that sent the defending champions out just when they thought they were in.

I didn’t particularly have any skin in this game, I wasn’t really fussed about who I wanted to see win, but nonetheless this was a classic cup semi-final that I’ll remember for a while. All because of one kick of a ball that bulged the auld onion bag – that’s the joy of football.


Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup

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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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