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Tasman United via the Coastal Route

Tasman United 0 Coastal Spirit 2

Mainland Women’s Premier League
Saturday 26 March 2016

Tasman United will be one of the new sides in the next men’s National League, but they have kicked off their club life with their women’s team; who have become the first Nelson-based team to play in Mainland Women’s Premier League.

Hello Tasman United

It was Tasman United’s first ever home game; they had already had their first match, a 2-2 draw away at FC Twenty 11. The peculiarities of the fixture list meant that this was the first match of the season for champions Coastal Spirit (from Christchurch).

Tasman’s coach is Ryan Stewart, better known as “Skippy”. He was club captain and a revered character at Coastal Spirit for several years. Although I’ve been living back in Wellington for almost 5 years, my connection with Coastal Spirit is still strong from the time I spent in Christchurch, and I received a warm welcome from the coaches of each team. There seemed to be an atmosphere of respect for each other from both clubs. Tasman acknowledging Coastal Spirit’s achievements, and Coastal appreciating what Tasman will bring to this league. A friendly rivalry appears to have begun.

The match was played at Saxton Fields (in Stoke, Nelson), usual home ground of Nelson Suburbs FC. Tasman seemed to have been on top of many of the things that add a sense of occasion to the game, with ballkids, an 8-page match programme, bar/canteen, scoreboard, covered shelters for subs and managers, media previews and match reports, and a large and noisy crowd in the stands. The pitch was in good nick (although slippery in a couple of patches), the weather was fine. Not many established top league clubs can manage all that. Even the referees were praised by both coaches in the after-match speeches for getting everything right.

Something that was lacking was a gate charge. One local bloke remarked to me that there ought to be one as he’d willingly pay $5 to watch another MWPL match. “They charge for the men’s matches”, he said.


Tasman in blue/white hoops, blue shorts, blue socks, started the better of the match; their pressing forced errors in Coastal defence. When Coastal’s attacks failed, Tasman were quick to break. Early opportunities were created by Tasman through Ruby Smith and Matilda Dawson, amongst others, but Coastal’s goalkeeper Una Foyle was getting at least a fingertip to keep the Tasman shots out.

Tahlia Herman-Watt, Coastal’s new player, started at left-back, filling in for Rebecca Wilson who took ill shortly before the match. Wilson recovered to come off the bench in the second-half. Herman-Watt played well and didn’t look out of place at this level, moving into midfield when Wilson came on a sub.

Coastal had most of the possession though, but were not being effective with their vertical attacks. The ball played forward was not finding the attacking run, or on the occasions that it did, there was an offside offence.

I’ve learned to be patient with this Coastal team. If an avenue is closed down, they will initially attempt to go through it; if that’s not effective, they’ll keep the ball and with a visionary they’ll open up another part of the field. Last year I saw a match which Coastal went on to win 12-0. It was 0-0 at 25 minutes.

Eventually, the weight of possession in this match told. Lily Bray who opened the scoring for the visitors finishing off an aesthetically pleasing move involving Rebecca Lake and Mel Cameron.

Coastal should have had a second when captain Chloe Jones headed the ball from an Arna Roberts corner just over the crossbar.


Tasman had two great opportunities to equalise in the second half. A cross from the Tasman right found Rhea Hopkinson. Her header back across goal was tipped onto the post by Foyle. Later, Tasman midfielder Anna McPhie had a powerful low shot that crept narrowly wide of the far-post.

The second goal was one of those goals where “I think it’s coming, but the way it’s going it might not happen”. The previous few minutes of intense Coastal pressure had seen several chances squandered. Emma Turnbull (nee Proctor) get round the keeper but too wide to tap it in, instead sending a cross across the face of goal. A corner was cleared off the line. Cameron grazed the face of the crossbar with a cross. The Tasman keeper smothered a couple of one-on-ones from Nicholson and Cameron.

There were audible cheers of relief from the pockets of Coastal supporters when Mel Cameron smashed the ball into the back of the net in the 85th minute. Britney-Lee Nicholson got to the goal-line on the Coastal left and cut it back to Cameron. The Coastal striker took a touch away from a defender, turning and hitting it powerfully into the goal to make the final score 2-0 to Coastal Spirit.


Coastal were glad to get points from first game. Some things to work on include sharpness at the back and turning possession into effective opportunities, but what they’re trying to do is solid. Tasman could have had some confidence-boosting goals if it wasn’t for some sharp Foyle saves. They looked like and played like they belong in MWPL.

I hope to enjoy more of these friendly rivalry matches between these two teams.

What others said

Categories: Other NZ Federation Leagues

Phil Clayton

Phil Clayton's feet are registered with Brooklyn Northern United but—despite having moved back to Wellington from Christchurch in 2011—his heart is still bonded with Coastal Spirit FC.

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