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Raining. Goals.

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I didn’t aim to do a match report for today’s NRFL Division Two game between Manukau City AFC and Fencibles United. I just went along for the game.

Walter Massey Park is the nearest Northern League team to where I live, it’s my local club. Having gone along to speak to their head coach Kevin Fallon at the start of the season, and taken in their opening Division Two game against Onehunga-Mangere, I hadn’t been able to get to another game for one reason or another.

In the mean time, the black and whites have conceded the fewest goals in the division and only lost one of their seven games so far this season. That didn’t put them top though, as two draws meant they lag behind Takapuna AFC who are bludgeoning their way through the season with a deadly attack. Goals galore too for Waitemata F.C who are seeking consecutive promotions.

The seasons have definitely shifted and the rain had been sheeting down for parts of the morning. The guttering on the clubhouse has a hole in and the water was pooling on the grass out front. On the hill overlooking the green tarp dugouts, a brave crowd of old hands and young folk gathered to take in the game. And it was a good one.

A word first for the referee. Mr Kumar really liked being involved in the game, blowing his whistle for even the slightest infringement. He set his stall out early and then was forced to maintain a level of intervention that frustrated both players, supporters and benches. He also bottled a major call; having yellow carded the Fencibles #6, he failed to deliver the second yellow after a real clogger of a challenge less than a minute later.

The game was a good test and it’s clear to see why both teams are at the business end of the table. Fencibles looked dangerous in the early stages, with lightning quick wingers and a #8 who demonstrated an ability to hold and shift the ball under pressure. Andre Estay opened the scoring for City though, his shot across the keeper finding the far corner.

Hard work epitomises City’s play, and a willingness to get stuck in. At half time, with the rain sheeting down, one of the Fencies coaching team spent the walk back to dressing room in a very one sided conversation with the referee. He didn’t mention his team should have been a man down by then though.

HT – Manukau City AFC 1 – 0 Fencibles United

The second half was another tactical test with the Fencibles keeper making a fantastic one handed save, diving to his right, that brought admiring expletives from the touchline. He wasn’t the biggest bloke, but he stopped the score doubling. It also motivated the outfield players, and the last fifteen minutes saw concerted pressure put on City by Fencibles.

Then it happened. From a Fencibles corner the ball was cleared to the edge of the area. A clearing kick fell in front of the streak of black and white lightning that was the City #10, Uba Nunez. Tearing after it like a whippet after a stick, he bore down on goal. The Fencibles keeper had come way out of his area for the corner and was backpedalling furiously, as he passed the penalty box he decided to stand tall.

It was no good. With two defenders about to clean him out, Uba flicked a leg out and produced a delicate chip which cleared the keeper and had time to take a bounce along the wet grass and roll into the net.

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To be blunt, we all went a bit mental. The blocky video on the Manukau City facebook page shows Ricky Espinoza bellowing “GOAAAAALLL!” at the camera as, in the distance, the whole team converged on the goalscorer. On the hill someone shouting ‘UBA YOU’RE THE MAN!’.

Final score 2 – 0. Another clean sheet for Manukau City AFC and another goal for Uba. He really is bloody good.

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 2

John Palethorpe

John Palethorpe lives in South Auckland which is very far away from Fratton Park and Champion Hill. Having been told there was no football in New Zealand, he was delighted to find that there is.

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