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6 of one half, nothing of the other

Upper Hutt City 6
Brooklyn Northern United 0

Kelly Cup
Sunday 24 April 2016

The Kelly Cup is a knock-out competition, usually for the women’s first teams of Wellington clubs. Its lustre has recently faded as the competition format has chopped and changed (open to all women’s teams from Wellington, clubs from outside Wellington playing in it, etc), so it’s hard to anticipate what the format is each year.

In this first round tie on the turf at Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt City from Central League were hosting Brooklyn Northern United from Capital Premier League (a division below Central League).

Upper Hutt, coached by Wendi Henderson, have developed a strong, deep squad over the past couple of seasons. They have had 3 wins from their first 3 Central League matches in 2016.

BNU’s first team beat Upper Hutt’s second team 2-0 in Capital Premier League a fortnight before this cup-tie. A powerful shot by Pam Buchanan from a corner and an own goal caused by the persistence of Sophie Wilkinson coming within a two-minute spell in the first half.

Capital Football’s Kelly Cup Preview listed both the Central League and Premier League squads for Upper Hutt, so I felt slight intrigue as to which team they would field. I wasn’t very surprised to see a strong Central League–based team take the field for Upper Hutt, given the Premier League result.

Upper Hutt had beaten BNU 8-0 and 11-0 in in 2015 Women’s Central League (when I was doing match reports for BNU, before BNU got relegated), so I was expecting an even larger scoreline in this match.

For 30 minutes, BNU couldn’t cope with the pace of the Upper Hutt forwards. Balls through the centre were latched on to by Emily Morrison or Emma Main to go one-on-one with goalkeeper.

The first goal was after 5 minutes and was from an Emma Main run down the Upper Hutt right. Main cut it back to Grace McRobie in the centre who slotted it in.

Four minutes later, a Morrison shot hit the outside of the post when she was through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. A further four minutes after that, Morrison used a superb bit of footwork to beat defender and goalkeeper when through one-on-one to make it 2-0.

The four-minute theme continued, as the BNU keeper came out of the area and tried to dive in with her feet, but Morrison got there first, took it round the keeper and had an empty net to put in for the third 3-0.

Matisse Mitchell was a stand-out player for BNU, with her touch and turns being great in this match, but too often she was left without decent options to distribute the ball to, and held on to the ball too long waiting for something to present itself. Midway through the half, Mitchell had a shot on goal saved by Cushla Lichtwark (who is pushing for a place in the Football Ferns squad for the Olympics). Upper Hutt broke from that move through Emma Main, who was fouled on the edge of BNU’s penalty area. Main took the free-kick herself placing into the top comer to make it 4-0.

Main soon made it 5-0 after she put in the rebound after her initial shot was saved by BNU goalkeeper Alex Karantze.

Morrison made it 6-0 shortly after the half-hour. Main and Morrison were subbed off (rolling subs) around this time and the goals dried up, although McRobie had a shot which hit both posts, and Kennedy Bryant had shot from distance which dipped down on to the top of the crossbar.

BNU needed to address the defence. A lack of 3-point control (sole referee in this match) makes it hard to play an offside trap. To counter pace like that, one has to stop the ball being played in the first place (very tough) or put a sweeper in.

Upper Hutt had plenty of possession in the second half as they used the chance to push some of their second team players up a level, but they couldn’t break down a reorganised BNU defence now employing a sweeper. This resistance held out, even after Upper Hutt had reintroduced (rolling subs) Morrison and Main.

It may also have been to do with the Journey Fan going down to the end Upper Hutt were attacking in the second half to see whether he could “get some photos of some goals”. He didn’t get any second half goal photos, but I have taken his invitation and am using one of his photos as the feature image for this post. See the rest of his photos from the match.

In his after-match speech, Sandy Aitchison, BNU assistant coach, posited that BNU were unlikely to come up against a team of that quality again this season; unless the teams were to be drawn together in the National Knock-Out Cup. It would have to be a later round now, as the draw for the first round has since been made. BNU will travel to fellow Premier League side Petone, while Upper Hutt received a bye. However, in the Chatham Cup draw made the same day, BNU’s marble came out of the bag just after Upper Hutt’s, so the clubs will meet in that competition.

Categories: NZ Kelly Cup

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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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