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Tasman United 2
Coastal Spirit 3

Mainland Women’s Premier League
Sunday 10 July 2016
Saxton Field, Stoke

My third look at a match between Tasman United and Coastal Spirit this year. The first was the first match of the season, the second was serendipitous with Coastal Spirit playing a double header Friday/Sunday when I was visiting Christchurch. This third match, a good chance to see how the teams have developed.

Tasman have added experience to the team with Kaisa Tsuhauruta returning to Nelson from the USA summer for a few games and Chelsea Stewart (née Bignall) (who in previous seasons had played in Christchurch) came off the bench, back into Premier League action.

Coastal had two players away with the NZ U-17s tour of China and were missing couple of other regulars, so put some of the less experienced players up-front and pushed leading scorer Mel Cameron back to an outside position in the midfield diamond. Cameron was, from this position, able to find space and make late runs into the box.

Coastal’s first goal came midway through the first half when, from a cross from the left, Cameron found herself in the penalty area unmarked. The first-time shot was taken with composure and placed low past the Tasman goalkeeper.

Ten minutes later, Coastal’s second goal. A hopeful long ball from Chloe Jones, which drew a misjudgement from the goalkeeper, went out for a corner. Rebecca Wilson swung the corner in to the near post. The ball was punched to Emma Clarke who had a deflected shot that was headed in at close range by Cameron. This goal giving Cameron a clear lead in the League’s golden boot race.

In first-half stoppage time, Emma Clarke played a ball to Arna Roberts. The Coastal player lobbed the Tasman goalkeeper, but the shot hit the post to deny Coastal a margin which would have flattered them at the half, given the chances Tasman had failed to convert.

Tsuruta was denied in the 12th minute by Coastal goalkeeper Una Foyle smothering her one-on-one chance. At 0-2, Ariana Whittington poked a shot wide past an advancing Foyle, and Briar Luff shot wide after Tasman had found space, breaking quickly down their left.

Tasman started the match well playing out from the back at times, but failing to have the patience or quality to develop those moves into the final third.

At other times, the goalkeeper was playing it high and long hoping the sun would be in the eyes of the Coastal defenders. While other players were often shielding their eyes, Coastal Captain Chloe Jones put her hands above her eyebrows on rare occasions when the sun must have been particularly annoying. It seemed no problem for Jones, as she could judge the high balls and win them in the air. Her super vision complementing her supervising of the defensive unit.

The experienced Coastal players, such as Jones and Cameron also showed as they used their body position and physical presence to keep some of the younger and smaller Tasman players from being comfortable on the ball.

Coastal grabbed a 3-0 lead just after half-time. Arna Roberts received the ball from Clarke before the Tasman goalkeeper could effectively gather it. Roberts squared the ball to Britneylee Nicholson who had an easy tap in from close range.

With ten minutes to play Tasman grabbed a goal back, Holly Moffatt shot from the right and hit the far-post. The ball popped out to Luff who tapped it in.

A scarey ending for Coastal came in the 83rd minute when Tasman grabbed another goal to make it 2-3. Matilda Dawson managed to shake off an attempted tackle from a Coastal defender and put her shot on target. But the Coastal defence held strong in the final minutes for the 3-2 win.

The result all but seals a top 2 finish for Coastal, with Tasman 14 points back (but with a game in hand) in 3rd place, 5 points ahead of FC Twenty 11 in 4th.

I recall seeing someone else’s pre-season prediction that Tasman would finish last in their debut season. Having seen the Nelson-based team (also coached by Ryan Stewart) that played in the U-19 Tournament in Christchurch at Labour Weekend, I thought they would have the talent to take points off a few teams. I hadn’t expected Universities to drop away into 7th place (or Selwyn to not enter the league), but from their current position Tasman should finish ahead of FC Twenty, Parklands, Waimak, and Universities. They can be satisfied with their first season so far and be keen to start taking points off teams ahead of them.

Categories: Other NZ Federation Leagues

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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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