Ellerslie 3, Tauranga City United 2
Michaels Avenue, Auckland, April 18 2015
When I bought my grande caramel praline latte from Starbucks Westgate, I felt like I needed something sweet, hot, velvety, and full of caffeine to get me though the next couple of hours of bleakness. I was heading across town to Ellerslie, which has presented me with certain challenges in the past… The one and only thing my previous experiences at Michaels Ave have in common with the beverage I sipped as I picked my way along the sodden North-western Motorway is they were both wet.
Yesterday certainly had the potential to continue the tradition. It had been absolutely pelting down all morning but thankfully, as I turned onto the Ellerslie-Panmure Highway, the sun had come out. The rain jacket and plastic bag for covering my camera that I had made triple sure I had with me before leaving home could be left in the car with some confidence they would not be required after all. And my coffee and sugar milkshake, rather than providing contrast to my senses, ended up having more in common with my afternoon than I had imagined possible!
The other thing I was looking forward to comparing this game with was the last time I saw Tauranga play – an embarrassingly long time ago – 1996 to be exact. Only they weren’t Tauranga City United then, they were known as Mount Maunganui United, and as a young Waikato United fan I watched the Bulls put them to the sword at Links Avenue with Darrin Brown netting four times. I was living in Tauranga at the time and not particularly enjoying life. It was only a couple of weeks prior to my decision that enough was enough – I would up sticks and move to Auckland. A real turning point for me.
I’m not sure if, subconsciously, that has anything to do with why I haven’t watched the Mount or Tauranga in the 19 years since. But it’s as good an explanation as any.
All I really know is I was quietly supporting Ellerslie in this one.
And what an enjoyable little fixture it was too! 3-2 is surely everyone’s favourite score. You don’t get many three-two games that you walk away from feeling disappointed with… Unless your team conceded their third in the dying minutes… *cough* Central Coast Mariners *cough*…
This was something of a clash of styles. Tauranga good on their feet, playing the ball on the deck with incisive runs and fancy moves but somewhat lacking the end product. Yes, they scored two goals, but there were errors a plenty and they could have had more particularly in the opening exchanges. Ellerslie were more traditional and direct, soaking up the pressure, striking on the counter attack and at times out muscling their opponents.
The visitors started off with a hiss and a roar and looked like they were going to rampage their way to a big win. But after Andrew Cooper struck the first goal for the side in blue, they lost their way a bit as Ellerslie answered quickly with two goals of their own, both via Jordan Oosterhof, and went on to dominate the rest of the first half.
The second half kicked off in a similar fashion to the first with Tauranga coming out of the sheds revitalised. They knocked on the door with reasonable consistency until Colm Kenny finally got their breakthrough with not long left on the clock. That got their tails up and they looked for all money like they had found the inspiration to go on and find the winner they so desperately craved. Their confidence was short-lived however, as once again they were answered back by the game clinching goal from Martin Pike.
Not always the highest quality game but certainly exciting!
For Tauranga, the old Auckland adage rang true – life is like a latte. Sometimes it goes down smooth, and sometimes you get burnt.
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.