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Reta’s homecoming

Cashmere Technical 0
Coastal Spirit 1

Reta Fitzpatrick Cup Final
Saturday 02 September 2017
English Park

The Reta Fitzpatrick Cup is very dear to Coastal Spirit. The Cup is named after a life member of one of the clubs that merged to form Coastal Spirit. Reta Fitzpatrick of Rangers AFC played a pivotal role in establishing women’s football in Canterbury with her work for both club and province.

The Cup is the knock-out competition for Canterbury’s women’s first teams and Coastal Spirit treasure the trophy as if it’s their own. There’s only been two times (since the Cup was first contested in 2005) when it’s been won by a club that wasn’t Coastal Spirit or one of its founding clubs. 2013 when Coastal Spirit got distracted on the way to winning the National Women’s Knock-Out Cup, and 2016 Coastal Spirit in the semi-final, after leading 3-1 in the 89th minute, somehow losing 4-5 to Cashmere Technical who went on to win the trophy. Much displeasure occurred at that calamity and plans were made for Coastal Spirit to bounce back bigger and stronger in 2017.

Coastal Spirit had already captured the Mainland Premier League, the Hawkey Shield, and the McFarlane Cup (women) for the Canterbury club progressing furthest in the national knock-out, but the main prize was to bring Reta home.

The past couple of years, I’ve managed to see Coastal Spirit matches soon after a classic battle against rivals Cashmere Technical. Gunnie, the Coastal Spirit coach, would lecture me that I should have been there to see that match instead! This time I was there to witness it.

Rumours that Annalie Longo may make a rare appearance for Tech were unfounded, as neither her nor Ashleigh Ward (away) were in the squad. Coastal Spirit were without Lily Bray who suffered a nasty injury earlier in the season.

Coastal Spirit started off with most of the possession, with Tech trying to counter on the break. Coastal Spirit’s passing moves started to create chances and they took the lead on the quarter-hour with captain Chloe Jones heading in a corner from Cody Taylor.

Britney-Lee Nicholson (recently selected for the Futsal Ferns) sent a low cross along the face of the Tech goal, which Mel Cameron almost reached. Cameron was soon involved again with Tahlia Herman-Watt providing her the ball, Cameron beat her defender but her shot was saved.

Coastal Spirit’s other big chance of the half was set up again by Herman-Watt playing the ball to Taylor. A nutmeg and she was free of her marker, but her shot was parried by Hannah Heggarty in Tech’s goal.

The match featured many physical challenges. Exemplified by a first-half moment when a Tech player failed to properly control the ball. The Rangers and Coastal Spirit stalwart next to me said “Bang!”; a split-second later, Emma Clarke had challenged and won the ball fairly, leaving the smaller Tech player lying on the ground out of play.

Coastal Spirit had some nervous moments in the second half. A poor backpass from a Spirit defender saw Una Foyle in goal react quickly to beat the Tech player to the ball.

Spirit gradually got back into their first-half groove. Arna Roberts was subbed on at the hour mark, and with one of first touches was on the end of a Taylor cross, but her attempt was saved.

There was a lovely passing move involving Clarke, Rebecca Lake, Maggie Anderson, Taylor, and Roberts (who was unable to get a shot away). The ball was flicked back to Nicholson, who shot with the outside of her foot but couldn’t keep it down enough.

Coastal Spirit should have converted some more of their chances, but failed to. It almost came back to haunt them, deep in stoppage time, when a defensive mix-up with a couple of missed headers from a goalkeeper clearance saw Tech’s Tessa Lewis through on goal. Foyle came out to attack the ball. Lewis pushed it past the keeper, but extra time was avoided as the ball rolled narrowly wide.

The final whistle went a mix of joy and relief. 1-0 win for Coastal Spirit and Chloe Jones collected the Cup. Mel Cameron (who scored her 100th goal for Coastal Spirit this season) was gripping it so tightly after the match that I doubt she let it out of her sight until she was truly convinced that Reta had made it safely home to Cuthberts Green.

Full match on YouTube:

Categories: NZ Kelly Cup

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Phil Clayton

Phil Clayton's feet are registered with Brooklyn Northern United but—despite having moved back to Wellington from Christchurch in 2011—his heart is still bonded with Coastal Spirit FC.

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