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Taking the cake

Glen Eden Rangers 4, Ranui Swanson 2
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, March 7 2015

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Roma vs Lazio, Celtic vs Rangers, Liverpool vs Everton, Boca Juniors vs River Plate, and Ranui Swanson vs Glen Eden. One of these things is not like the others.

Ok, so this West Auckland Derby between two AFF/NFF Conference sides might not be the most glamourous of fixtures on the world’s calendar, but for me it was still easily the pick of the matches on offer today in the Northern Football Federation’s pre-season’s tournament. Why? Because Ranui Swanson is my local (the one club I can walk to from my house) and one should always support their local team. Glen Eden is also my former local (walking distance from my previous home) so I have a real soft spot for them too.

Ironically, the game was not played at a venue that was walking distance from anywhere very much as both teams travelled across the Waitemata to the Tiger Turf of North Harbour Stadium number three. I did still get plenty of exercise however as the Auckland Boos appear to be playing oval ball nonsense in the main stadium at some point in the next 24 hours so all the usual entrances were closed and I had to park so far away I think it was somewhere just south of Dargaville.

We’ll call that ‘Reason to Dislike Rugby #9,872’.

I wasn’t quite sure who I was cheering for in this one. Last time I watched Ranui Swanson it was their 2014 season opener vs Waitemata – another local derby. I thought they were a fairly brutal side that seemed more interested in flattening their opponents than playing football. But today I was impressed. A lot seems to have changed in the last twelve months, in particular a few quality new acquisitions including the likes of Eric Seekie and Tom Gosshawk – formerly NRFL players with the likes of East Coast Bays and Oratia United.

The match was split into three 30 minute thirds rather than the traditional two halves so, given there was a significant wind blowing, winning the right to attack from south to north for two of the three thirds made the toss an important one to win.

It was Glen Eden who ran with the breeze in the first period and as a result they spent a fair bit of time on the attack albeit without too much success. Ranui Swanson managed to soak up a fair bit of the pressure and even managed a few counter attacks of their own with one in particular resulting in a one-on-one with the keeper that should have been dispatched but was instead flashed wide. 0-0 was the score at the first break.

Then it was the team in gold’s turn to get use of the breeze in the second third of the match, and they immediately made Glen Eden pay for their wasted opportunities via James Felipe who poked one home to grab first blood. Ranui Swanson went on to dominate the second third in much the same way Glen Eden did the first but apart from that one goal, the end result was otherwise similar. 1-0 was the score after the whistle blew for two thirds time.

As the third third got underway, the wind seemed to be swirling around a bit more and if anything may have favoured Ranui Swanson again… it was hard to tell from where I was standing but whether it was the wind or just the way the game panned out we had quite an end-to-end spectacle for the final 30 minutes. It was Ranui Swanson who struck first via Daniel Strid, a player who had looked quite dangerous most times he got the ball, to make it 2-0. But rather than lie down and die, Glen Eden decided instead that they would put on a real show and treat us to a comeback of epic proportions.

It started with an own goal, was continued by Blake Semp who made it 2-2, completed by Mat Parsons who made it 3-2, and iced, filled with jam and cream, tiered, frosted and fondanted with candles, cherries and a little bride and groom added by Paul Gibbons who made it 4-2 to the absolute delight of the Glen Eden players, bench and coaching staff.

A thoroughly well-deserved win by Glen Eden but, call me biased towards my current local team, despite that capitulation, I think Ranui Swanson have a lot to be encouraged by. They are a classy looking side and my early bold prediction is they will push hard for promotion.

I can’t wait to check in on both these clubs again later in the season. Perhaps the rematch!

Categories: NZ AFF/NFF Men's Conference

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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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