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The indecisive decider

Fencibles 0, Papakura City 0
Riverhills Park, Auckland, August 7 2016

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A few weeks ago I was moved, by a discussion on the Northern League Forum, to go and have a look at the AFF/NFF Women’s Conference. I chose an Ellerslie vs Hibiscus Coast match that, if I’m honest, wasn’t overly inspiring in that the teams were both missing players and it wasn’t the showpiece of this division that I was hoping to see.

I subsequently went back to the NL forum and asked for suggestions for which game I should go to next – I was told “lock in Fencibles v Kura on Aug 7. It should be the game that decides the League.”

So I had two choices yesterday. Go to the Chatham Cup quarter-final at Becroft Park, where I was aware Jack Hobson-McVeigh would be making a surprise reappearance hot off the plane from Germany. Or go to this game, potentially watch a league get decided, and have a look at two sides, one of which I might well see again in a few weeks’ time – when the Conference winner takes on the best WaiBOP has to offer with a place in NRFL 2017 at stake.

As it turned out, there was no decision at the end of the decider. The 0-0 draw probably did neither of the teams a whole lot of good even if it leaves Papakura in the box seat, one point ahead of Fencibles with a game in hand while Northland and Metro breathe down both their necks. But I still stand by my own decision!

In hindsight, the fact that the game was delayed by twenty minutes while the teams scrambled around trying to get a referee might have been an omen. Apparently the official appointed to the match was struck down with man flu and it was lucky that Fencibles coach Paul Hutchison was able to find one he knew in his telephone address book who wasn’t otherwise engaged for the afternoon.

Phototek photographer Shane Wenzlick and I were on the verge of offering our services, as fourth official and referee respectively, but fortunately everyone concerned was spared that spectacle (full disclosure: I’ve never read the laws of the game in my life) when a man in NZF black was spotted hurriedly making his way towards the pitch.

The game itself was basically what you might expect from a one vs two high stakes 0-0 draw. Genuine chances were relatively few and far between but despite that it was not a boring spectacle. Both sides enjoyed spells on attack but were ultimately unable to put the final flourish on any of their moves.

At half time I felt that 0-0 was the most likely outcome, with Papakura looking the more likely to snatch it if anyone was going to. But then, as the second half wore on, Fencibles became more assertive and should probably have scored at least one but the finishing just wasn’t there.

The biggest positive for me was the fact that it was the first game in… I can’t even remember how long… that I didn’t need to cover my camera up to protect it from the sexist Sunday rain at any stage! The whole match was played in beautiful winter sunshine and unlike the day before when I really struggled to get any decent photos in the Hamilton gloom, on this occasion I think I got one or two stunners even if I do say so myself.

So even if I can’t put my hand on my heart and say that the Conference is a better league than NRFL Women’s Premier – I can at least categorically report that the weather is way better in the AFF/NFF Women’s Conference. It’s also going right down to the wire, unlike the NRFL.

Categories: NZ AFF/NFF Women's Conference

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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