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Up, and away goals

Waterside Karori 0
Havelock North Wanderers 1
(2-2 aggregate, Waterside Karori win on away goals)

Central League (men’s) promotion playoff leg 2
Saturday 09 September 2017
Karori Park, Wellington

The winners of the Capital Premier League (Waterside Karori) and the Central Federation Premier League (Havelock North Wanderers) met over two legs to decide who would gain promotion to the Central League.

The previous weekend, Waterside Karori had gained a 2-1 win at Havelock North and started the second leg seemingly content to retain possession and deny Wanderers early opportunities to get a goal back. At times, Karori players had to be reminded to keep the ball moving, in case they forgot it was at their feet.

Karori did play the ball vertically on occasions, and a corner in the 15th minute went to the far post where William Stuart’s header was cleared off the line by a Wanderers defender.

The tempo picked up during the next quarter of an hour. Havelock North had a couple of corners, and Leo Villa put a low shot across the face of goal for Karori. Facundo Barbero for Karori beat a defender on the 24th minute, cut into the penalty area, but a diving challenge from Stefan Kitchling cleared the danger.

Ben Foxall got a yellow card for trying to punch the ball goalwards in a Havelock North attack.

In the 35th minute one of Karori’s best attacking outlets, Jack Haggerty on the left wing, made a run into the penalty area. As he got inside the area, he pulled up with a muscle injury and had to be subbed off.

Havelock North had a spectacular attempt to take the lead when a free kick wide on the right found Foxall at the far-post, but his overhead kick went over the crossbar.

Wanderers had stepped up their pressing game in the last 15 minutes of the half. Karori had less time on the ball, so were playing it quicker which increased the overall speed of the match and resulted in chances or half-chances for both sides.

Halftime 0-0 (Waterside Karori leading 2-1 on aggregate).

There were more physical challenges at the start of the second half. Karori started the second half better, creating chances, Wanderers struggled to react.

Havelock North needed the sort of spark that Ekow Quainoo provided Coastal Spirit when he was subbed-on needing 3 goals in a Mainland Premier League promotion playoff in 2010. Wanderers made their move: Jackson Ralph coming on and changing to a front 3.

The Wanderers keeper made a good save from Villa after he played a one-two with Luc Saker.

But the attacking gamble started to provide results. Wanderers took the lead on the day in the 64th minute. Liam Carrington crossed from the left to Jared Bloor. Headed back to Liam Shackleton, who put the ball in the net, to the great delight of the handful of Wanderers fans standing near me. 0-1 (2-2 aggregate, Karori with the away-goals advantage).

Wanderers stepped up the intensity again after the goal. Although level on aggregate, they were at an away goals disadvantage and need to score again to have a chance of promotion. Shackleton had another shot well saved.

The attacking pressure led to some midfield gaps that gave Karori’s midfielder Villa space to spray the ball out wide behind the Wanderers fullbacks to create attacking opportunities.

Shackleton had a shot saved with 15 minutes remaining, but Bloor put the rebound very high over the bar when he should have scored.

Wanderers had an even better chance in the final five minutes. Chris Greatholder sent a diagonal ball to Liam Carrington who won a corner. Bloor’s header hit the crossbar, then in the ensuing scramble, Carrington had a shot cleared off the line, before the referee called for a free kick for Waterside Karori.

Waterside Karori held on to lose 0-1. After losing the 2016 playoff due to away goals, Karori celebrated when the loss was confirmed; this time having won promotion due to their advantage on away goals. Waterside Karori will play in the 2018 Central League. Their first time back (for men) since 1999.

Most impressive

Waterside Karori:
having the juniors throw confetti at the players as they walked out. Some of the juniors made sure they threw it at the players rather than in their general vicinity. The confetti highlighted the path to the changing rooms having formed a sludge by the end of the match.
Havelock North Wanderers:
player names on the back of their shirts above their numbers? No! Instead, the club’s twitter handle of @HNW_AFC was there instead. Great stuff!

Fake fact: Leo Villa’s great-uncle Johnson was one of the founders of North Wellington AFC.

What others saw

Categories: NZ Men's Central League

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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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