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Clambering down or falling up?

Wairarapa United 2
Brooklyn Northern United 1

Capital Women’s Premier League
Sunday 03 April 2016

Two teams new to the grade this season

This match was a promoted team versus a relegated team, first day of the season battle.

BNU were relegated from Central League in their last match of 2015. This season, they have combined their reserves and first team squads (reserves were in Capital 1 in 2015) to add depth and amalgamate coaching resources. I wrote match reports for BNU’s Central League team last season, so decided to see how they would fare in the grade below.

I saw Wairarapa host Massey in the National Knock-out Cup last season. Massey went on to reach the Final, but were almost tipped over in an early round by then Capital 1 side Wairarapa. The hosts took the lead before Massey came back to 2-1, but Rapa were always in the game until second-half stoppage time when Massey made it 3-1.

Wairarapa have had several consecutive promotions over recent seasons. Some women’s grades in Capital Football had mid-season promotions, so they have averaged more than one promotion per season recently (they were in Capital 3 in 2014). They have dominated the lower grades and now find themselves in Capital Premier.

The match was played on their artificial turf at Masterton’s Memorial Park. Would the Wairarapa steamroller continue through Capital Premier, or would BNU find life easier outside Central League?

First half

Both sides showed signs of first-game nerves, with BNU the quickest to settle.

In the third minute, Pam Buchanan in the BNU midfield was given space and hit a long-distance shot It dipped down, hitting the crossbar, and bouncing down within the field of play.

Rapa had a spell of pressure after the first ¼ hour. They had two great chances: missing a sitter as a cross to the far post was put wide, and a solo run from their most impressive player was poked wide.

A Buchanan shot hit the frame of the goal again midway through the half. It was another shot from distance where the goalkeeper misjudged it (or it was well-left?) as it appeared to deviate in the air and hit the post before being cleared for a corner.

Although nothing came from that corner, BNU were delivering some lively crosses from their set-pieces. Fiona Walker-Pou headed just over from a corner in the 28th minute.

Wairarapa had their turn to hit the frame of the BNU goal when the ball was cut back from the by-line and a powerful shot from just inside the penalty area smashed the crossbar and bounced down but didn’t pass over the goal-line.

Matisse Mitchell should have given BNU the lead just before halftime when a free-kick for hand-ball was swung in and, with the goalkeeper wrong-footed, Mitchell failed to hit the target.

0-0 Halftime but it could have been 2-2 or 0-2.

Second half

BNU took the lead in the 55th minute. Walker-Pou crossed from the left and Sophie Wilkinson and the Rapa goalkeeper both attacked the ball. The ball squirmed into the net from close range, with the goalscorer being deemed as ‘own goal’.

Wairarapa equalised 5 minutes later. BNU failed to deal with a lobbed ball that bounced in their own penalty area. A Wairarapa player was first to the ball and prodded it past the goalkeeper 1-1.

BNU started to tire in the warm Masterton weather and BNU goalkeeper Alex Karantze made three good saves in the last quarter of the match.

As the game looked headed for a draw in stoppage time, BNU failed to effectively clear. The ball fell to their most impressive player who shot from long distance into the top corner of the goal.

The day before, the BNU men’s first team goalkeeper headed in a late equaliser in men’s Capital Premier when he advanced upfield for a corner. But before such scenes had the chance to occur in this match, the referee blew the final whistle for a 2-1 win to Wairarapa.

A good watch

Wairarapa seem to have a good mix of young, energetic players, alongside some players who have the composure to see and seize some space, with opportunities resulting from it.

I’d spent much of last season seeing BNU getting thumped by a large margin or dropping points in the last few minutes of the game, so it didn’t surprise me too much to see a loss to a last minute goal. I had thought prior to the game there was the possibility that Wairarapa might get a large victory, but BNU’s new players and those stepping up from late year’s reserve team did well, showing that they have potential at this level.

Despite the disappointment of dropping late points, it was an entertaining game to watch. There were some good performances from both teams, and I just might have enjoyed it more than most of the Central League matches that I saw last year.

Categories: Other NZ Federation Leagues

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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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