Eastern Suburbs 4, Tasman United 2
Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland, December 4 2016
It’s fairly typical for my men’s national league give-a-stuff levels to be at their lowest ebb immediately after I’ve finished covering the women’s game for the year. The National Women’s League never fails to get my pulse racing as the high scoring and skilful brand of football it throws up year after year always culminates in a thrilling end to the season with lots of provincial pride on the line. After that, the Stirling Sports Premiership always feels like a bit of step down for me.
This year it was even worse.
In the hours and minutes leading up to my first Stirling Sports Premiership game of the year, Eastern Suburbs vs Tasman, WaiBOP were playing Capital in the National Women’s League semi-final down in Wellington. Capital equalised deep into stoppage time, after playing the bulk of the second half with only ten players, and won a place in the final on penalties after a scoreless additional half hour. A heart-breaking end to the season for my beloved home federation. Thrilling conclusions are great until you’re on the wrong end of one.
So into Bill McKinlay Park I moped in a very dark mood indeed.
But then something changed. I was treated to a fantastic game of football by the blokes on a beautiful sunny day at one of my favourite football grounds in the country. So I didn’t stay sad for long! Well, ok, I was still quite sad but football did it’s most fundamental job and made me forget my troubles for an hour or two.
First up, it was great watching the two teams warming up out on the turf and seeing the unmistakable figure of Paul Ifill getting put through his paces with the Tasman squad. The former Phoenix striker, deployed as a super-sub for this game, looked so majestic and it was clear during shooting practice that he hasn’t lost any of his languid instinct for finding the back of the net.
Looking at the respective table positions of these two newcomers at this level, I thought it might be a bit of a mismatch. But it was in fact a very even contest to my perception even though the stats showed otherwise! Chatting to people on the sidelines, someone who had seen a bit of Eastern Suburbs told me that they do tend to gift their opposition good chances to score at times and with an attack like Tasman’s, I should watch for them to capitalise. And so it proved.
Sean Lovemore struck for the home side very early in the game but Tinashe Marowa, a player I have seen before with Auckland City youth where he was nicknamed ‘Mario’ for his haircut that made him look like a dead ringer for Mario Balotelli, was able to restore parity fairly quickly.
Luke Adams tapped in to once again give the lilywhites the lead midway through the second half and then all looked lost once and for all for the visitors when the referee awarded an Eastern Suburbs penalty. But up stepped Tasman keeper Coey Turipa who palmed Osita Chikere’s spot kick onto the post and then down the other end we went for Daniel Allan to bring the crowd to their feet and level up the scores once again with ten minutes to go!
Chances at both ends followed but it was Eastern Suburbs who took the win with another goal from Lovemore and then as injury time ticked down Moses Dyer struck to give us a final score that I thought flattered the winning side.
Regardless of the result, that late equaliser from Tasman did perk me up and rekindle my interest in the men’s game once again with the vast bulk of the men’s summer season still to come. My mood has also been helped along both by Roma winning the derby vs Nazio, I mean Lazio, 2-0 this morning and the far less expected New Zealand political developments of the day which are best summed up by saying “thank goodness for that!”
Over the course of the last few hours I have even grown sufficiently as a person to post Michael Welsh’s write-up and photos of the National Women’s League semi-final without adding any snide editor’s comments. I’ll get onto that now…
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.