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Forza Metro

Norwest 3, Metro 2
Huapai Domain, Auckland, June 4 2017

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I watched two games of football today.

I got up at 5:30am in order to meet my brother down at the Viaduct for the Champions League Final – which I was expecting to be a close game.

Then, after some brunch with Nando and a few chores around home, I headed off to Huapai Domain for Round Two of the New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup – which I was expecting to be less of a close game.

As it happened, my expectations went ‘oh for two’ as the Americans would say.

I normally hate Juventus with every fibre of my being but when an Italian team is playing a non-Italian team, blood is thicker than water. So this morning, as much as it pained me, it was “fino alla fine” (Juventus’s famous battle cry meaning ‘until the end’) all the way.

I also severely dislike Milan but when two clubs I have neither real love nor enmity towards are playing against each other, my sympathy for the underdog takes precedence. So this afternoon, despite Metro’s Milan lookalike colours, it was “Forza Metro” all the way!

I was left disappointed on both counts of course. What I was really hoping for above all else though, when it came to my afternoon football excursion, was to be able to say I chose the closest match-up available to me. And in that mission, I appear to have come away a winner.

On a day when all the games north of Wellington were NRFL Premier sides versus either Conference or WaiBOP opposition, the aforementioned closest match-up was highly likely to be decided by five goals or more even considering Hibiscus Coast’s surprisingly narrow loss to Western Springs on Friday night. And the other Sunday results bear that out… Claudelands 7, Fencibles 0; Forrest Hill Milford 10, Papakura 0 and Three Kings 18, Rororua United 0!

But when it came to Norwest (sixth in the NRFL) hosting Metro (sixth in the conference) the magic of the cup came to the fore to give us a match that finished up as something of a thriller even if the final score did flatter the visitors a bit.

It shouldn’t have been a huge surprise, given the highly experienced Men’s National League winning coach in the Metro technical area. Paul Marshall had his team as well organised as one would expect and their first half defensive display was pretty impressive considering the calibre of attack bearing down on them including Football Fern Jane Barnett who has by all accounts been in good form for the FDP lately.

The deadlock was broken in the 19th minute when Nicole Cooper drove deep into the penalty area from the right, shook off her marker and let rip. But while there were numerous other chances for Norwest, who spent the vast bulk of the first 45 minutes in the Metro half, their opponents dug deep to ensure that 1-0 was the score at half time.

Warning bells started ringing shortly after the break when Barnett blasted a long range shot into the post. Then in the 52nd minute the home side doubled their lead somewhat fortuitously when Metro’s Victoria Murray turned a speculative cross into her own net much to her dismay. And just five minutes after that it seemed that it was goodnight nurse when Sam Waru smashed home Norwest’s third.

Metro never gave up though, and they managed to eke out a glimmer of hope for themselves when, on a rare foray into the opposition third, Wyllowe Poata managed to slide one home to make the score 3-1. Then with four minutes left in the 90 all of a sudden the impossible seemed possible thanks to a Dakota Boyes goal that set up a grandstand finish.

Despite the slight scare Norwest managed to keep their plucky opponents at arm’s length for the remainder to take a well-deserved, if tighter than they would have liked, victory. But, on the other side of the coin, Metro showed either that their table position doesn’t reflect their quality, or that the gap between the Conference and the NRFL is closer than we think.

Either way, I liked that game a damned site more than I liked the one in Cardiff!

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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