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North Shore 2, Western Springs 1
Allen Hill Stadium, Auckland, July 1 2017

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It may be right up there with my favourite venues in Auckland to watch football at, but will I ever take a decent photo at Allen Hill Stadium? I’m beginning to think not. The place can’t get anything right when it comes to the conditions it presents me with whenever I decide to take the plunge and fight the Devonport traffic to get there.

Either it’s wet and dark or the sun is blaring in over the wonky old stand at such intensity that my camera can’t cope. Yesterday was the former in the extreme. Almost all my pics of this game, such as they are, are of the first half. In the second half it got so dark and miserable that if I’d got the match info sheet before the game I might have been sorely tempted to abandon ship.

That would have been a mistake though. Because, through the gloom, there were some great moments to witness in an interesting, if a little niggly, contest.

North Shore should be getting quite good at promotion six pointers. They get a lot of practice! They seem to have been protagonists in one every time I’ve seen them play in recent years.

These Roma lookalikes (colour scheme wise) are perennial promotion contenders and well they should be, a famous old club like this, steeped in history, but it seems they can just never quite make that step either by bad luck or by choking. This season it’s more bad luck I think, given the quality of some of their opposition.

There are four sides at the top of Division One that are all arguably good enough for the Premier Division in Shore, Manukau City, Melville and today’s opposition – Neil Emblen’s Western Springs. Going into yesterday North Shore was coming last out of the big four, eight points adrift of Springs in second, and desperately in need of a win or it would have been season over for sure.

And I suspect Shore’s desperation for a result may have been the difference in this game. They seemed to want it more. I thought they thoroughly deserved their lead when Ross Langworthy struck for the home side in the 14th minute. Unfortunately though, while I was still tweeting the Shore goal, Springs took full advantage of that dangerous period when teams so often let their opponents off the hook straight after they’ve broken through. Jacob Mathews was on the end of a well worked move straight from the restart to restore the equilibrium – a 1-1 score line that remained all the way through to the break.

As I alluded to above, the second half was dark and miserable, cold and wet, and a couple of times the climate seemed to match the mood of the players as one or two scuffles threatened to break out and flashes of yellow were waved in various directions by referee Matthew Trent.

It was the home side who finally broke through the gloom though, when Dave Fahy struck home the winner with fifteen minutes to go. Cue raucous celebrations from players and fans alike!

With ninety minutes almost up on the clock, desperate times called for desperate measures and Coach Emblen subbed himself on to try to salvage a point and he almost got on the end of at least one corner! But as the three blasts of the whistle finally came, allowing everyone to get out of the miserable conditions at last, the Shore faithful were still smiling.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say the race for promotion has been blown wide open, but a sliver of light has certainly broken through the doorstop. Springs entertain Melville in a catch-up game on Saturday night next week. That may just about decide whether Springs go up with Manukau City barring collapses or if we’ll have a dog fight on our hands right through to the finish!

And given I’ve now learned that there’s probably more light at a night game at Seddon Fields than there is at a day game at Allen Hill, I may even make an appearance myself to see what happens…

Categories: NZ Northern Men's Division 1

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Enzo Giordani

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/

2 replies

    1. There was a discussion about that on Twitter yesterday. I quipped that it’s a place that needs a lot of TLC but if it ever gets it, it will be completely ruined.

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