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Script? What Script?

Glenfield Rovers 1, Upper Hutt City 0
McFetridge Park, Auckland, August 27 2016

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If New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup semi-final day had a script, nobody stuck to it! I strongly suspect most observers, when pressed for pre-game predictions, would have expected Cashmere Technical to give Forrest Hill Milford a real run for their money in Christchurch and Glenfield to make mincemeat out of Upper Hutt in the land of the JAFA. As it turned out, what occurred was the precise opposite. The strong South Island outfit, boasting the bulk of the successful Mainland Pride women’s National League side of the last few years, went down 6-0 at home to FHM. Meanwhile, in this game, there was expected to be a gap in quality but it genuinely could have gone either way.

Recent Football Fern keeper Cushla Lichtwark was a big part of Upper Hutt’s success in frustrating Glenfield’s attacking ability, not just with her saves but also with the way she marshalled her defence from very high up the pitch, but it wouldn’t be fair to say she kept her side in the contest. There was some great defensive work on display the visitors across the park as well as some decent pressure on Pam Yates at the other end to boot.

The only thing that separated the two sides in the end was a determined goal from Katie Rood. Upper Hutt defender Ellen Fibbes looked like she had things under control when somehow Rood dispossessed her on the left hand edge of the penalty area. Judging by the exclamation from Fibbes, she knew exactly what was going to happen next – Rood scythed her way through another two defenders then bludgeoned the ball through the advancing figure of Lichtwark.

The game died a bit of a death from that point on as the last quarter of the match meandered to its inevitable conclusion. I have to admit I wasn’t too sad about that as I needed to get down to Papatoetoe by 5pm to potentially shoot Manukau City winning NRFL Division 2. But, without a doubt, Upper Hutt won some Northern admirers with their plucky performance, the really fun bunch of orange clad fans they brought with them, and the cupset we were almost treated to!

But an all Auckland final it shall be. And a derby too! Glenfield and Forrest Hill Milford are very close neighbours – a gentle 20 minute stroll from each other – and together they have in recent years made up the vast bulk of NFF’s National Women’s League team. So it will be an intriguing battle. We see these two sides play each other a lot in league action but a cup final is a different dynamic. It’s also a repeat of the 2014 final when Glenfield prevailed 3-2 against a very strong FHM side that had cruised to the league title. This time Glenfield have finished above their foes in the league and it will be interesting to see if the 2014 roles will be reversed or if the black and golds can win their third straight Knockout Cup against their best frienemies.

Just as an aside, the interesting side-effect of my trip to South Auckland was, given it was a night game under the puny lights at Murdoch Park, I thought I would try shooting in RAW yesterday to see if it would improve my abysmal record of getting zero photos of any quality in such conditions. The results are at best mixed I would say. Essentially I have come to appreciate that what RAW actually does is give you infinitely more ways to stuff up than JPEG does. So I do apologise that some of my shots of this game are below my usual standards of late.

Rest assured I will be shifting back into my comfort zone at Shepherd’s Park today!

Categories: NZ Women's KO Cup

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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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