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Ugly ducklings

Forrest Hill Milford 2, Fencibles 5
Becroft Park, Auckland, June 9 2018

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Typical. Last week I went to a cup tie between two teams that have 20 league positions between them on the New Zealand football hierarchy, and the game went all the way to a penalty shootout. Today I chose a game between two sides locked on 20 points each, nestled together in third and fourth places on the NRFL division 1 ladder, expecting a thriller! Instead I got a pretty one-sided affair.

There was a lot at stake. At the end of the season, the top two clubs will be promoted to the top of the pyramid. Melville look to have all but locked up the first of those two spots. Even though the wins don’t seem to be coming as easily as they were at the start of the season, ‘the pride of the Waikato’ are still unbeaten after 12 games.

Meanwhile, eleven points back, the race for the other promotion berth is still very much on.

Waiheke United were in pole position going into this round, but given their tricky away trip to North Shore’s Allen Hill, which as it happened they did go on to lose, the opportunity was there for one of these two sides doing battle at Becroft to snatch the ascendency.

And it turned out to be the visitors who took the chance with both hands, blowing the Swans off the park in the first 45 minutes and sending them into the sheds at half time as ugly ducklings, four goals and a player down.  A state from which they couldn’t have realistically expected to recover from.

Jarrod Young opened the scoring for the East Aucklanders in just the 9th minute before Sean Latimer doubled their advantage in the 21st. Charlie Maddison made it 3-0 three minutes before the end of the regulation 45, before Jordan Kalk made it 4-0 and the red card was shown to an FHM player before the referee brought the half to an end.

At 4-0 the ground announcer, who had been dutifully keeping us well informed up to that point, didn’t bother telling us which Fencibles player had scored. When Maddison doubled his tally to take us to 5-0 twelve minutes into the second half, it sounded like the man on the mike had packed a sad altogether and gone home because we didn’t hear another peep out of him for the rest of the game!

That was a bit of a pity because if he had stayed, he would have seen his side restore some pride with goals to Scott Campbell and James Green in the 71st and 85th minutes respectively. It was too little too late though of course, the game had been over bar the shouting long before that point.

The race for promotion is still pretty tight! Only three points separate Fencibles, now in second, and North Shore in third, Waiheke in fourth, Mount Albert Ponsonby in fifth and Forrest Hill Milford down but by no means out of contention in sixth. Hibiscus Coast are only two points behind FHM, but they will have to seriously improve their current form if they are to become factors in this race.

Prediction time!

I doubt anyone will catch Melville, and it will be great to see them back in the top division. As for the second promotion place though, I wouldn’t count North Shore out as something of a dark horse. Their win today was certainly a head turner and, I’m not going to lie, I’m talking partly as someone who would enjoy seeing a famous old club like that one operating at the highest level available to them.

The Romaesque colour scheme doesn’t hurt either…

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: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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