By Simon Borich
With a rare Saturday off during football season I was gently persuaded by Enzo to write a guest blog for ITBOTN. To be fair, it took all of one tweet suggestion and I was in. The weather was awful but I found myself heading to Stanmore Bay to watch Hibiscus Coast host Manurewa.
I was intrigued to see the Coast side who had been flying high in Division 1 until mid-week saw them docked 6 points for an ineligible player. Having played a bit against the Coasties I knew they were mostly a young team who liked to play a fast game. Manurewa I didn’t know much about, other than having Stephen Carmichael up front and hailing from the ‘Rewa out South – perhaps the “sister suburb” to Orewa, my neck of the woods and the ‘Rewa of the North.
The southerners started the first half with the assistance of a strong breeze coming off Whangaparaoa Bay. I would say it helped them as they dominated the half, but in fairness they kept the ball on the deck and resisted the urge to pump it long with the wind.
John Fletcher in the Coast goal had a very busy half and by the half hour mark had already about 8 saves to his credit including a couple of sharp stops. ‘Rewa on the other hand would feel they should have done better with their finishing, although the shot that hit the underside of the bar with Fletch beaten was just plain bad luck.
35 minutes in and Coast made a sub with their young striker Trent Mayes coming on for Danny Bungard, who I thought had offered the most going forward down the left flank for the hosts. Dan didn’t look injured and I’m not sure why Trent didn’t start, puzzling all round.
2 minutes later and the visitors opened the scoring. A perfectly executed through ball was latched onto by their striker Brad Rathburn who slotted expertly past Fletch, making up for a poor effort only minutes earlier. The visitors kept pressing but it remained 1-0 at the half.
I expected the Coasties to step it up in the 2nd half with the wind at their backs and they started well forcing Marvin Eakins for ‘Rewa to nearly head a cross into his own net. Eakins had looked very sharp for the blues getting on the ball a lot in the middle of the park and pulling the strings.
It was definitely a more even second half with chances at both ends. Sunny Singh for ‘Rewa was a menace down the left wing and probably should have nabbed himself a couple of goals, while the Coast were looking dangerous in the air from crosses and corners.
Carmichael was replaced with 10 minutes to go and it was only 5 minutes later that his replacement Mulowa Sikongo made it 2-0 to the boys in blue, smashing one into the roof of the net from close range after being setup by Singh. That man Singh had the ball in the net himself but was rightly ruled offside by the referee (luckily, as the AR had not flagged) and that was that, 2-0 to Manurewa.
So the table standings counted for not much in the end as the lower team controlled the midfield and the game to run out the winners. I’m surprised that Manurewa aren’t higher up the table on the back of that display and would expect them to end the season higher than where they are now. Despite the howling wind and occasional driving rain it was an enjoyable game to watch, with 2 teams who were keen to get the ball down and play.
[Simon Borich is the first team goalkeeper at Warkworth AFC. His other interests include West Bromwich Albion and kapa haka.]
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.