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Division One newcomers outclassed by North Wellington

North Wellington – 4, Universal Language – 0
Ascot Park, Porirua, June 10 2018

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North Wellington held off a challenge from Wellington Sunday Football League Division One newcomers Universal Language on the weekend, winning 4-0 at Porirua’s Ascot Park to move into second place on the first division table.

The game began with a midfield deadlock that lasted nearly 30 minutes, each team passing the ball effectively and then losing possession when an attempt to break through the opposition defence was made. Wing back Azraie Asri of Universal had a strong start, showing quick footwork and combining well with energetic midfielder Dean Run.

Despite tenacious play from Asri and his Universal teammates, North Wellington was able to break the deadlock when Max Petersen received the ball following a string of controlled passes from midfield and elegantly slotted the ball into the net. North Wellington looked much more comfortable with its nose in front, and the team worked together to build pressure with smart football and communication.

Alex Jones caught up with a perfectly timed through ball in the 18-yard box to go one-on-one with the keeper and bring the score to 2-0. Petersen then showed serious pace on the left wing to outrun the defence, delivering a cross to Mo Hekmatzadah before hammering home Hekmatzadah’s deflected shot to score his second goal of the day and take North Wellington to the break 3-0 up.

Universal started the second half with intricate midfield passing between Luke Isa and Asri Farid, who both showed technical flair and good footwork under pressure. While Universal held the majority of possession, North Wellington made it difficult for them to progress up the pitch, and had a big defensive height advantage, which negated the long ball.

As a result, Universal often tried to play through groups of defenders using fancy footwork and individual flair, rather than strategy and field position. In contrast, North Wellington made use of the full field on offence, often passing back to midfielders who were set just ahead of the defensive line to relieve any pressure and hold composure.

The use of leading passes placed just ahead of players running at speed created several opportunities for North Wellington, and the scoreline could have become a blowout but for desperate defence from Universal and courageous goalkeeping from Ahmad Refae.

Despite making several finger-tip saves and coordinating the defence whenever the ball neared the goal, Refae was judged to have impeded Petersen when making a diving save late in the second half. He was unable to stop the resulting penalty shot, which was struck home by Brendan Howell to bring the game to its final score of 4-0.

North Wellington captain Michael Chin said his team had kept its composure, with players largely playing within themselves.

“We had a slow start to the game, but the team picked it up towards half time. In the second half, we played a composed and contained game.”

Luke Isa of Universal said his team had played hard in its first game in the top division.

“It was a tough game, but if we can’t win it we can definitely learn from it”.

Isa said the team was looking forward to the upcoming Malaysian Football Cup at the Bersatu Games in Wellington next month, when Malaysian community teams from Otago, Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland universities will compete.

North Wellington has had a strong season so far and claimed second on the Division One table as a result of the victory. Sunday Blazers dropped to third after a 2-2 draw with league leaders Sudakas FC.

In Division Two, Valley FC Trust claimed second place on the table, beating recently demoted HHH United 4-3 while Marauders achieved a remarkable 12-1 whitewash of Los Blazeros. Zazaspor dropped two places after going down 2-6 to Fireraiders, and V-Well held top spot, beating Inter Galactic FC 4-2.

Ball Tamperers held top spot in Division Three, winning 8-4 over Alcoholics Albion. Second-placed Westwood United also had a blowout result, winning 8-0 over Sharks FC. Rogue XI and Shamrocks also had strong games, winning 6-3 and 5-3 respectively, while Terrace-Nadi drew 2-2 with recently promoted Expected Tolouse.

Wellington Chinese United won 2-7 over Trentham United in Division Four, while Pirates FC was victorious over Sunday Cardigans.

A record 37 teams are currently competing in Wellington’s Sunday Football League, a community based 11 aside league founded over 40 years ago. A full table of results and fixtures can be found at https://tinyurl.com/WSFL2018.

Next weekend’s action – the Cup is here (June 17)
The Wellington Sunday Football Cup kicks off next week, with four groups of three teams playing off for the Cup and six groups of four teams playing off for the Plate in a separate competition.

Normal league play will take a break for the first round of the cup and plate competitions, with the remaining rounds set to take place on pre-set weekends throughout the rest of the season.

The draw for the Cup and Plate competitions was made in a live draw at the Bunnings Warehouse Petone playground. The matchups can be found on the Wellington Sunday Football League Facebook page.

Categories: Wellington Sunday Football League

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Fraser May

I alternate between club, indoor and street football. I'm keen on the social game and have been known to bother urban Wellington by playing street football at night. I usually play keeper or wing back, and I'm enough of a geek to enjoy football manager games.

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