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Te Atatwo-two

Te Atatu 2, Waitemata 2
Te Atatu Peninsula Park, Auckland, May 7 2016

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Until today, Te Atatu Peninsula Park was on my ’Sins of Omission’ list – a small assortment of Northern League venues that I haven’t visited yet.

After today, Waitemata’s home ground stands out as the only Auckland setting left on the list if you don’t count Pukekohe (and I don’t because I have seen Franklin play in Waiuku and having two home grounds is cheating). Outside of that, North Force and Tauranga City United are the only other two clubs I haven’t seen play at home. Northland is the only team that I haven’t seen play at all and I do plan to rectify that ASAP as it’s unforgivable really.

It was great to tick another one off today, though, and on such an important occasion to boot! This was a local derby between two very close neighbours – a fixture known as the ‘Battle of the bridge’. The bridge in question, I assume, is the bridge over the motorway that separates Te Atatu Peninsula from Waitemata’s ‘hood’ of Te Atatu South.

There was a healthy little crowd in attendance to watch a spirited performance by the home team against a newly promoted club that nonetheless is packed with enough talent to be challenging for high honours in this division. Going into the game, Waitemata were sitting in third only one point behind Manukau City in second. With the South Aucklanders having a bye this week, it was an excellent opportunity for the visitors to move up into a promotion place.

Some of that aforementioned talent was missing today though, as Waitemata had to do without two important players in Joe Edwards and Colin Gardyne due to it being the former’s wedding.

And Te Atatu was certainly up to the task! Not wanting to be usurped by their neighbours, who were promoted to the Northern League a season after them, they were quite spirited on attack and caused their opponents quite a few problems. Waitemata appeared quite well organised on defence though, and managed to snuff out a lot of the danger.

In turn, the visitors were also sharp in their opponents’ third and would have won this game if not for some tidy work between the sticks by Te Atatu goalie Eddie Trubshoe.

The opening blow was struck by Waitemata in the 24th minute thanks to Shane Tanner who got on the end of a free kick to draw first blood. But the lead only lasted two minutes, as Haibar Jabir grabbed the equaliser down the other end and we were back to all square – a state of affairs that took us right through to the break.

After Jordon Lamb tapped into an empty net for Waitemata in the 67th minute, it looked for all the world like the game was going to finish with three points heading back across the bridge to Te Atatu South, but the home side never gave up. And it paid off in the very last minute of regulation time when a Ricky Kwaoga header levelled up the scores at two apiece.

There’s nothing else quite like an 89th minute goal that changes the course of a game, is there? I can’t think of anything comparable in the world of sport that even comes close to the sheer happiness or sheer despair that comes with a late goal. If it was up to me, every important goal would be scored in the 89th minute!

Probably just as well I’m not a coach…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2

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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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