Eastern Suburbs 1, Onehunga Sports 3
Madills Farm, Auckland, April 17 2017
What does a conscientious footballaholic do to appropriately mark Easter Monday?
This year, I didn’t see why I should be any different to the rest of Auckland. So the only credible option was to join the procession of snail paced traffic tortuously inching along Tamaki Drive and spend a lifetime or six fighting for a parking space at Mission Bay so Gina and I could grab an overpriced ice cream from Mövenpick to enjoy on the beach. And after enduring all that, it only seemed polite to take in a football game at Madills Farm while we were in the neighbourhood!
There were a few firsts for me to tick off the list as well. This was my first game of NRFL Men’s Premier for 2017 and, unbelievably, my first game of men’s anything at Madills Farm ever! I’ve been to the winter home of Eastern Suburbs many times to watch Women’s Premier and Women’s Knockout Cup football over the years, including my first ever game of women’s football back in 2011, but somehow I’ve only ever watched the 2015 Northern League men’s champions play away.
After a successful return to the national league over summer, the Lilywhites made a slow start to the winter season but appear to have hit their straps over the past week and a bit. After early losses to East Coast Bays and Hamilton Wanderers they bounced back to easily dispatch Manurewa ahead of an exciting 4-3 victory over Forrest Hill Milford on Good Friday.
Meanwhile, Onehunga Sports travelled eastwards flying high in outright second place on the table, behind surprise pacesetters Hamilton Wanderers, with a round two defeat at the hands of Glenfield Rovers constituting the only points dropped in their opening four fixtures.
In describing this game, I can’t do a lot better than the name of the suburb in which the match-up took place. According to Wikipedia, Kohimarama (or more properly Kohimaramara) translates into English as ‘gather up the scraps’. And that’s, in my mind, an incredibly apt description of exactly what Onehunga Sports did here.
The first half ended scoreless after the home side had enjoyed by far the lion’s share of possession without really looking likely to seriously trouble visiting goalkeeper Louis Caunter. Down the other end however, the side in green were making the most of what little possession they had, forcing several sharp saves out of Silvio Rodic. If, during the break, you had asked me who was more likely to break the deadlock in the approaching 45 minutes I would have confidently predicted a goal or two to Onehunga Sports.
They went one better than that as it happened, but it wasn’t quite as pretty as I had imagined it would be.
The first breakthrough came five minutes into the second half, when Andrew Milne lunged for a rolling ball that keeper Rodic seemed to have well within his grasp. There was a scuffle on the deck and the end result was the ball bobbling somewhat pedestrianly into the goal and Milne wheeling away in celebration.
The rest of the game was a bit of an arm wrestle as the Lilywhites fought for a way back and their opponents sought to put the contest beyond doubt – a feat the latter finally achieved after Boon Ozawa went on a nice searching run down the wing, made a right turn at the top of the penalty area and laid the ball off to Milne who drove home to complete his double.
Ross Haviland added the cherry with another scrappy goal in the second minute of time added on and it was Dylan Bull who nabbed the consolation goal for Suburbs with near as dammit to the last kick of the game.
That win leaves Onehunga Sports just one point shy of the league’s summit and its only unbeaten team – Hamilton Wanderers – who they now face next Saturday at Waikaraka Park. I usually try to avoid watching the same team twice in a row but methinks that is a rule that may just have to be broken on this occasion…
Categories: NZ Northern Men's Premier
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.