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The nose knows

Papakura City 15, Pukekohe 0
McLennan Park, Auckland, April 26 2015

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The qualifying round of the New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup. Our national cup competition for women. Unlike its male sibling, the Chatham Cup preliminary round, this is a footballing gala in which a lot of the Northern League clubs participate right from the very start. There is both a big pro and a big con associated with that feature: More romance when big clubs face the minnows, but also a few lop sided affairs.

For an intrepid blogger, at this stage of the competition, there are two tricks to selecting which game to attend. Firstly one must attempt to see teams one wouldn’t ordinarily watch, and secondly, it’s important to try to pick a match-up likely to result in a nice even contest.

Given that neither of these two clubs ply their trade in the Northern League, this game certainly met the first criteria. But the real test of the expertise of any football blogger worth his or her salt, surely lies in the second prerequisite – choosing an evenly matched pairing. This is where the cream rises to the top. Getting this fine balancing act right requires knowledge, it takes poise, it takes intuition, and it takes a keen eye for the X factor. Luckily for me I have all of this in spades. I can pick ‘em.

And to my expert eye, this passionate local derby between two sides who play below Northern League level, but have both played in the top league of the pyramid just two short years ago, stood out a mile. And when you’ve got a nose for a thriller as finely honed as mine, what could possibly go wrong?

Well, for starters, Papakura are at the top of the AFF/NFF Conference and after only two rounds they have amassed a total of 19 goals scored and a grand total of none conceded. Meanwhile, Pukekohe are mid-table at the level below, the Auckland Football Federation division 1, and after the same number of games as their South Auckland comrades they have only scored three and conceded the same number.

But still, I mean really, they are both pretty lowly in the grand scheme of things right? How big can the gap really be?

The answer to that question turned out to be: ‘A gap so large that it makes the vast ocean between Paolo Di Canio’s ears seem like a rather large lake’.

The first goal was struck in the first couple of minutes of the match, and there were two more before the fifteen minute mark had been reached. At that point, the match already had that ‘cricket score’ kind of feel to it. But then there was something of a reprieve of around a quarter of an hour which was arguably Pukekohe’s best period of the game – it was certainly the longest period of time that they managed to keep Papakura scoreless.

I thought at that point that while Kura were clearly the better of the two sides, Pukekohe weren’t a million miles away. The visitors had paid the price for some average defending but were still fighting hard and the possibility of them bringing some respectability to the score was seemingly there.

But then, in the blink of an eye, three quick fire goals right before half time killed the game off as any sort of contest. 6-0 was the score at the break with the goals scored by Savarna Asafo (2), Ashley Nevey, Sarah Bond, Jasmine Elson and Hannah Littlewood.

Within ten minutes of the second half commencing it was 7-0, and twelve minutes after that it was 8-0. It was around that point that Pukekohe heads really dropped and the floodgates well and truly opened. We got three goals in the next ten minutes followed by a micro pause of four minutes until another four hit the back of the net in the following ten to polish things off. Nevey increased her half time total to five, Littlewood’s tally grew to four, Jasmine Elson doubled hers and Sophie McLachlin added her name to the score sheet.

On average, there was a Papakura goal every six minutes and there were more players amongst the starting line-up  who found the back of the net than there were who didn’t. Once we passed 12-0, the scoreboard could no longer ‘handle the jandal’ and with no number 13 available one of the ball kids had to manually hold up the three!

Oh yes, I can pick ‘em alright!

I think that was the biggest thumping I have ever seen and I’ve seen a few. It will be interesting to watch Papakura come up against a Northern League side in the next round to see it they can foot it. Because the way they are going, they will be back in the big league soon enough, and quite possibly there to stay this time. This would be rather a good thing I reckon.

Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup

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Enzo Giordani

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: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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