Waitakere United 2, Hamilton Wanderers 1
Trusts Stadium, Auckland, January 16 2017
It was a game of one stiff breeze. Wind was the winner on the day!
After a lovely pre-game lunch at Little Sister with the New Zealand football community’s most colourful Twitterer, the man who was in possession of the whitest legs in West Auckland yesterday – Grant Stantiall – I trotted into Trusts Stadium for the second time this week with high expectations.
My favourite Stirling Sports Premiership team, Hamilton Wanderers, have been performing poorly and well in strict rotation this season. They followed up a good win against Hawkes Bay United last time I saw them with a horror defeat at the hands of Southern United in Mosgiel last week. So, on that basis, I felt sure that I was about to witness a good result against the auld enemy in this match!
But instead of that, a new option inserted itself into the pattern – my team were beaten, not only by their opposition, but also in equal measure by a strong Northerly that made conditions tricky. I have to say it wasn’t the greatest of spectacles as neither side adjusted particularly well. Corners skewed out of play and passes flew over the ball kids’ heads with reckless abandon – particularly in the second half. It was blustery, sure, but I didn’t think it was as bad as the players made it look at times…
Nonetheless, Waitakere went a goal to the good inside the first twenty minutes via a Keegan Linderboom strike, ably assisted by a sharp looking Dylan Manickum. It was a deserved lead, as the Westies made most of the running in the first half even though their opponents certainly had their chances – one of which they eventually managed to convert aton the stroke of half time.
Ignacio Machuca’s corner either swerved straight in on the wind or was helped on its way by a Cory Mitchell touch – take your pick. Either way, the two sides went into the sheds with the scores locked at 1-1.
The second half was anybody’s for the taking really, with so much inaccuracy there for the pouncing on, but as it happened the better side on the day managed to eke out the winner. German striker Pascal Reinhardt didn’t have a lot to do after a rare mistake from former All White defender Aaron Scott fell to him via a smart contribution from Keegan Linderboom.
So the curse of Waitakere continues! Traditionally, the Westy club tends to end Waikato and WaiBOP seasons more often than not and while that isn’t strictly the case this time, the result of this game certainly leaves the Wanderers season at a crossroads.
At only five points adrift with a game in hand the opportunity to sneak into fourth is still there. However they also need to keep an eye over their shoulders with only two teams behind them on the table, both of whom are looking good to pick up a few more points. Southern United appear to have developed a winning mentality for the first time in years and, in yesterday’s other shock result, Tasman United managed what hardly any other team ever does – get a result off Auckland City. The Hamiltonians will need to start winning or the wooden spoon looms…
Waitakere, on the other hand, find themselves in the opposite position! Auckland City’s loss was their gain and thanks to their five game unbeaten streak they now share the lead with their old crosstown rivals – along with Team Wellington.
And the worst thing of all was, once again, I didn’t win the coffee machine!!
Outrageous. It’ll be a few weeks before I can try again too, looking at the draw…
I’ll be at Bill McKinlay next week to see if Wanderers can show some character and make a real fight of the rest of the season. I really, really hope they can.
Categories: NZ Men's National League
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/