New Zealand Under 20 7, WaiBOP Football 1
North Harbour Stadium, October 2 2016
Pickings were slim in Auckland today for hardy souls like me who wanted to watch some football in the nasty, nasty weather we were looking down the barrel of this morning.
Around the middle of last week I started casting around for pre-season friendlies featuring either men’s or women’s National League teams. I e-mailed the nearby federations, and some people I knew in the franchises, and when I tallied up all the replies it basically came down to two options…
Option one was to take in Stirling Sports Premiership sides Auckland City and Eastern Suburbs at Bill McKinlay Park – not a bad possibility on a miserable day with the big old covered stand there to ensure I would stay bone dry and close enough to the action to get some good shots as well!
Option two was WaiBOP vs New Zealand Under 20 at North Harbour Stadium – a chance to see my favourite National Women’s League team in action for the first time this year, and get a bit of a sneak peek at how they might fare this season.
It’s a no-brainer, right? Who cares about staying dry when you can be a fan boy?
There was only one catch… WaiBOP haven’t named their squad yet, and they want to make a bit of a big deal out of it later in the week, so they asked me very nicely if I wouldn’t identify any of their players. Easier said than done!
I did think long and hard about whether or not it would be better for all concerned if I just took the easy option and headed for the relative comfort of the Old Bill. But in the end, the weather made the choice for me. The men’s game was called off due to Bill McKinlay being a swimming pool. So, even though the rain had stopped over most of Auckland by 11am, head out to Albany I did.
I’m glad I did too. It was a very entertaining outing, particularly the first half – which proved to be surprisingly even on the scoreboard at least.
It was an unfortunate defensive lapse from the team in red that saw Marty Puketapu slot the opening goal in oodles of space out in front deep inside the penalty area. But it wasn’t long after that before things were back to even stevens thanks to a goal by a player whose identity I shall take with me to my grave… (it was Kim Maguire)
WaiBOP were largely holding their own, albeit while spending the majority of their time on defence. And it was a testament to their hard work that it took a real ripper of a goal for them to relinquish the half time lead. Tayla Christiensen shot from wideish on the left and hit the bullseye – the ball ricocheted in off the far top corner. 2-1 was the half time score.
But in the second half, the gap in quality really started to come to fruition. Cantabrian Mikayla Wieblitz got herself a hat-trick, Kate Loye poked one home against her home province, and Emily Ooosterhof capped things off in the dying minutes.
The two sides ended the afternoon with a mock penalty shootout, won by the Under 20s 4-3 (I think). Good preparation for their World Cup campaign in Papua New Guinea in November.
So there you have it! I have managed to write a whole blog post without naming a single player from the visiting side. All that remains now is to post my photos…
Oh, yeah. This required a bit of editing. Let’s see if you can recognise any of the actual WaiBOP players. A chocolate fish to anyone who can name them all!
I’ll replace them with the unedited versions when the squad is named!
Until then, the the the the that’s all folks! Wait, is that Disney???
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.