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A riveting encounter

New Zealand Under 20 4, USA Under 19 4
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, June 17 2016

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Two days off work to watch football either side of a two-day staff meeting in Wellington, where I got to see some more football, all bookended by two Azzurri victories at Euro 2016. Yes. It’s been a good week. But the undisputed highlight of them all was undoubtedly this eight goal international women’s thriller yesterday…

Just kidding. Did I have you going for a minute there? No, silly, the absolute grand imperial poobah granddaddy highlight of them all was Italy winning their opening two group games of the Euros and qualifying for the knockout rounds without conceding a single goal!! But this eight goal international women’s thriller yesterday was definitely a very close second.

It was game two of the USA under 19s’ three game whistle stop tour of Albany – some might say the stage of the tour where things get extra interesting. Tuesday was a New Zealand A side that had a bit of a cobbled together feel to it – neither a full strength Ferns side nor a B team, it was something in between. Both this and Sunday’s game are both like-for-like – two youth teams of similar ages head to head and thus an interesting peg on where New Zealand’s youth development is at against the number one women’s football nation in the world. And didn’t we do well!

New Zealand took the lead early on thanks to Marty Puketapu from close range, then endured a USA comeback as two goals eventuated from two well taken corners  – first via a Shannon Simon free header and then via a penalty awarded in the melee converted by Ella Stevens. But not to be deterred the Ferns kept plugging away and found an equaliser of their own before the break with Jazz Pereira potting a rebound off a defender from a Puketapu drive and thus ensuring that the score was 2-2 at half time.

USA seemed to have the advantage in the early stages of the second half but once again it was New Zealand who drew first blood. A trademark Paige Satchell dash down the right burned off the American defence and drew the keeper off her line before everyone’s favourite pocket rocket slipped the ball to the best fringe in football and Jade Parris made no mistake!

Once again USA had a hill to climb and once again the ferns lead was short lived. Just a few minutes later we were back on level terms via Cyera Hintzen who was released into space and made no mistake one-on-one with kiwi keeper Tessa Nicol.

It looked like we were headed for a 3-3 draw until time was almost up on the clock and it was yet another corner that once again proved the Ferns undoing when the ball fell to Tierna Davidson and the USA player bagged what everyone in the stadium assumed was the winner. But it was a game that neither side deserved to lose and fate still had a final twist in store. As the Ferns surged forward looking for justice they found it deep in injury time when Tayla Christensen, Grace Jale and Emma Rolston combined to inflict a bit of corner pain of their own – the latter slotting and wheeling away from goal in a fit of rapture! It was a great moment and a fitting end to a great game of football.

In case I needed any other reward apart from the game itself, I got an awesome photo of the celebration of that last goal that reminded me of a great piece of feminist iconography! It only seems right that I get onto Photoshop now and ruin the whole thing by showing you what I’m talking about…

Rollo the Riveter

Rollo the Riveter

And with that – Roll on the last game tomorrow! 2pm at North Harbour. Get on down and support our fantastic junior Ferns.

Categories: Football Ferns

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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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