Ellerslie 4, Fencibles 0
Michaels Avenue, Auckland, July 16 2017
A couple of weeks ago I decided to spend my Sunday afternoon watching an AFF/NFF Women’s Conference match. I like to attend at least one every year, and I selected high flying Fencibles’ trip to Pukekohe as my 2017 match of choice because I thought it would double as a great opportunity to finally catch a game of football at Bledisloe Park – a venue I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting.
It seemed like a great idea, right up to the point where I arrived in Pukekohe after the best part of an hour on the road only to wonder where everybody was! The game had been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
One of these days I’ll finally learn to check the appropriate website before I leave home, but it probably won’t be one day soon.
Another look at the draw, after I stopped banging my head into my steering wheel, revealed the possibility that there may be an upside to my stupidity. Instead of watching Fencibles (probably) win comfortably against lowly Pukekohe, I could try a different Conference excursion to Ellerslie two weeks later. This would work for two reasons. Firstly, it would be second v third and a derby to boot, instead of second v ninth (out of nine). And secondly, it would be on turf. Postponements wouldn’t stop me this time! Mwahahaha!
Conference Take 2 didn’t entirely go according to plan either though. The closeness of the table positions didn’t end up resulting in a close game on the scoreboard. But while it ended up being a little bit one-sided, it wasn’t in the direction many would have expected!
Fencibles have a strong squad with a fair chunk of NRFL experience in their ranks. They should really be bossing this league, but instead their title hopes were dealt a serious blow by their local rivals in this match.
Things started going pear shaped very quickly for the visitors when dangerous Ellerslie striker Ella Wiebe latched onto a through ball in space behind the defence and made no mistake with barely a minute up on the clock!
It didn’t feel like the start of a rout at that point though. Quite the contrary, Fencibles still looked like they were in possession of ample quality to get themselves back into the match. And their big chance to do just that came with around half an hour gone when the ball was handled in the penalty area. The promising young Tahitian referee Rainui Perry, part of an OFC trio officiating the match as valuable practice during a break in the Oceania Under 19 Women’s Championships, pointed to the spot.
The perpetrator of the crime was shown a yellow card, which seemed to incense the Fencibles bench who were screaming for red. And their woes didn’t end there. Sonia Lovemore’s penalty skimmed the crossbar and out for a goal kick! 1-0, the score remained right the way through to half time.
The second half was feeling relatively evenly contested with both sides enjoying their share of possession and opportunities to break through their opponents defences, but it was Ellerslie who once again seized the initiative with 20 minutes left to play. Florence Noble was the player who made the breakthrough after rounding the keeper, shaking off a last ditch defender and knocking the ball into an empty net.
Eight minutes later Referee Perry made a significant mistake, in an otherwise solid performance, in awarding a penalty to Ellerslie when her assistant on the far side had her flag up for offside. No complaints from Wiebe of course, who duly converted to take us to 3-0.
Then the cake was well and truly iced in the 86th minute when Lana Davies was released 1v1 with the keeper and her shot was helped over the line by Wiebe to complete her hat-trick.
So that was my 2017 Women’s Conference fix! It was fun, despite the scoreline. I look forward to seeing what next year’s has in store for me… Hopefully on my first attempt!
Categories: NZ AFF/NFF Women's Conference
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.