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Balanced Views – Central United

Central United 3, Hamilton Wanderers 2
Kiwitea Street, Auckland, July 4 2015

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Never too late

By John Palethorpe – Central United fan

The business end of the season approaches. The shadows have begun their retreat, but pre-game the discussion was less about the threatening looking clouds and more about the imminent review of New Zealand football. There was a game on as well, with Central hoping to avoid a repeat of their six nil gubbing earlier on in the season.

There were familiar faces from the Summer franchise league on both sides, with Auckland City’s Iwata, Berlanga and Ilich in yellow and white, and a spine of Varela, Moloney and Marquez for the all black Wanderers.

Both teams play a compressed, intense style with bellows of ‘PRESSING’ and ‘PRESSURE’ from both keepers and managers drifting across the pitch throughout the opening exchanges. At times the high lines of each sides’ defence looked eminently exploitable. As it was the first real chance came from Takuya Iwata’s curling twentysomething yard strike which rattled the post, but not the Hamilton defence.

Both teams clearly had their workhorses and conductors, with Ilich and Wright powering Central’s momentum. In the first half, particularly, there seemed to be a disconnect between the midfield and the strike force.  Wanderers had Marquez and Jones providing their impetus. Jones, in particular, seemed less like a player with a strategic role than a black cloud descending on Central players all over the pitch.

Hamilton looked the more dangerous throughout the first half and were justly rewarded with the industrious Michael Built heading in unmarked at the back post on 33 minutes, after good work down the right wing. It was a route they had taken a few minutes earlier without much luck, proving persistence as a virtue.

Central’s movement and dynamism seemed to be nullified by Hamilton’s structure and anticipation, at times the possession seemed to be the last thing on both teams minds. As the half drew to a close, Central’s Ollie Wright attempted a Di Canio-esque volley from outside the area with Hamilton’s Mark Jones replicating the attempt minutes later at the other end.

Half Time: Central United 0 – 1 Hamilton Wanderers

Giordani’s verdict: “A lot of football left to play”

Taking up residence above the dugout for the second half, we were first treated to a firework display from Kiwitea Street’s Banquo-like bucketman and then to an equally explosive start from Central. Iwata’s long crossfield ball found Murati on the right wing, who slalomed into the box and cruised the ball past the despairing Matt Oliver on 47 mnutes. One all and game on. Both coaches obviously decided to have a not so quiet word with their teams at half term, and urgency was the order the players received.

Wanderers were briefly rocked, but soon re-established their shape and structure thanks in part to some very clear direction from the bench. Not long after they regained the lead as a ball sailed through a seemingly static Central defence to where it seemed like half the Wanderers team were waiting for the tap in. The final touch went to the excellently named Jama Boss, who rose to prominence as the game progressed. Hollering at the linesman, amazingly, didn’t reverse the decision although the huddled spectators were all generous in offering him a free eye test.

The cold had begun to bite down in the stands as the game headed into the final half hour. It was clear from the instructions,  “I need you to work the midfield”, delivered to Wanderers substitute Edwards, that the lead was not comfortable enough for Mark Cossey.

Not nearly comfortable enough. Again Central pushed down the right hand side and managed to replicate Hamilton’s first goal, with a cross evading the heads of Hamilton’s centre backs and dropping perfectly for Zambrano to draw the game level again.

A sudden late bloom of action ensued, with Jama Boss’ chested cushion and shot making a statue of his marker without troubling the keeper. Neither team relented in their attempt to both find their rhythm and chuck their opponents drumkit over a cliff. This led to, shall we say, some more agricultural challenges and exchanges between players leading to the referee giving into the players behaviour and issuing yellow cards.

While cold weather is supposed to have a shrinking effect, it appeared to freeze time solid at Kiwitea Street. The scoreboard ticked over to 90.17 and stopped. But the game didn’t. Handbags were drawn both at the cause of a late free kick for Central and while the players jostled for position in the Hamilton box.

It’s hard to explain to people, who don’t have an interest in football, what happened next. The mechanics of it were simple, a free kick into the box, a hint of a brush of a defender’s head and then Vincent Pineau meeting the ball in flight and directing it onto and under the crossbar and running, running like a demented Marco Tardelli, towards Jose Figuera on the touchline before being swarmed by his teammates. In the stands I found myself on my feet, yelling incoherently and carried away on a rush of energy that wouldn’t subside for a good few hours. Football eh?

3 – 2 to Central, final score.

Giordani’s Verdict: “I’m going to the cinema”

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier

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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:

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