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Black and goals

Glenfield Rovers 5, Eastern Suburbs 4
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, September 10 2017

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Wow. I thought last year’s Women’s Knockout Cup final would take some beating in terms of an exciting advertisement for the women’s game, but this year’s may well have raised the bar even higher for many observers!

Going in, it was a difficult one to pick. The TAB had Eastern Suburbs as favourites, but just like last year I thought they probably had it wrong – even though there wasn’t much in it. It really came down to who was missing the most important players and who was recovering best from a tough week that many of yesterday’s combatants had at the tightly scheduled national secondary schools championships during the week.

Plus, you can’t ignore history. The black and gold of Glenfield has featured in every cup final since 2013 so they have been here before on numerous occasions and know what it takes to win.

In terms of absences, both teams had an important player each winging their way to the USA with the Football Ferns. For Suburbs it was deadly markswoman Aimee Phillips and for Glenfield it was star goalkeeper Anna Leat. But I thought those two would likely cancel each other out leaving the key difference as the loss of influential Suburbs forward Tayla O’Brien, who is having a great time on a pre-planned overseas holiday by the looks of her social media.

But while the Suburbs attack may have been a little blunted, they still had a prolific goal-scorer in age group international Jacquie Hand and it was thanks to her reliability from the Spot that the Lilywhites took the early lead in the 12th minute – after Glenfield’s stand-in keeper Hayley Bindon was adjudged to have taken Erin Roxburgh out in the box.

It turned out to be my day for getting photos of equalisers at the Northern end of the ground with the “sun” at my back, when it deigned to show itself… Both mine and Glenfield’s first came in the 27th minute when Georgia Brown crashed a goal past both the Suburbs keeper and Erina Wong, who were converging to attempt to clear the danger.

If there had been a trophy for a “crossbar challenge” on offer, Glenfield would have won it for sure. I think I counted four or five shots pinging off the metalwork from the Shoreites. It was Suburbs who were first to benefit from some fortune in that area though – a ricochet that deflected in from the Glenfield keeper in the 35th minute restored their earlier lead.

But just a minute later I had my second equaliser photo thanks to another rebound. This time Dayna Stevens was the beneficiary, knocking another one past the despairing figure of Corina Brown. 2-2 was the half time score.

It was ten minutes into the second stanza when the southern end continued its run of supplying us with all of the day’s go-ahead goals. Last year’s Maia Jackman trophy winner for best player in the final, Tessa Berger, gave her opponents from last year’s final their first lead in this year’s incarnation.

Then two minutes after that I had my third equaliser photo… Although, I’m not sure that particular Hannah Pilley shot actually went in. It’s hard to tell from my photos but I think Claudia Bunge got to it before all of the ball crossed the line…

That debate was academic in the end though because Dayna Stevens grabbed the lead back for Glenfield in the 63rd minute, and this time they didn’t relinquish it. Georgia Brown doubled the advantage in the 68th minute and Hannah Pilley cut it back to one again in the 77th but at the end of an exciting, seesawing affair it was Rovers who were celebrating, I think deservedly,  and Suburbs who were left to rue what might have been after falling just short in both the league and cup this year.

5-4 is a remarkable scoreline for a final – usually thought to be cagey affairs – but it’s not unprecedented in the New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup. Claudelands beat Three Kings United 5-4 seven years ago and there were four players on the pitch yesterday who played that day! Playing for Claudelands were Kate Loye, Kylie Jens (both Glenfield yesterday) and Kate Carlton (Suburbs). Tessa Berger was also there playing for Three Kings.

[That useless piece trivia was shamelessly stolen from Andrew Voerman who admitted he wouldn’t be able to fit it into his Stuff article anyway. Sorry not sorry.]

And best of all, the heavy rain and hail we got later on this freezing afternoon saw fit to hold off until this game was over. We only got a light soaking just before the trophy presentation, when almost everyone except hardy souls Jeremy Ruane and I ran for the cover of the grandstand. Kate Loye raced out of the tunnel to collect the Maia Jackman Trophy and then high tailed it straight back again until the shower had passed!

Where’s the commitment???

Mind you, they are high performance athletes and to say I am not one of those would be the biggest understatement since Monty Python’s Black Knight described his injuries as “just a flesh wound!” so what would I know…

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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