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One out of two ain’t bad

Future Ferns Domestic Programme 4, Eastern Suburbs 3
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, July 8 2018

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Auckland’s lovers of good football were spoilt for choice once again on Sunday. NRFL Women’s Premier boasted four games, any one of which I could have made a compelling case for going to – especially the two featuring Claudelands and Eastern Suburbs, neither of which I have seen kick a ball in anger yet in 2018. But, kicking off at the same time as all of those, was another tasty looking option…

The Future Ferns Domestic Programme were playing a top of the table clash of their own against an Eastern Suburbs boys team that were boasting a perfect record before kick-off. The Ferns, having played one more game than the Lilywhites, had a draw and a loss to their names – the loss being a 6-1 hiding at the hands of yesterday’s opponents! So they needed a win if they wanted to have any chance of winning the Under 17 Conference.

I ran a Twitter poll to ask where followers thought I should head:

Confession time: if another fixture had won I probably would have ignored the result and come here anyway…

In all honesty the deciding factor was a vital piece of info I picked up from last week’s interview with Paige Satchell. She’s heading off to Germany to scout out pro contracts next week, so the chances are I won’t get to see her tearing off down the wing in person again until the next time the Ferns play in Auckland – and who knows how far away that will be? I was also half expecting to see Emma Rolston in action too, ahead of her move to German club Duisburg, but alas it looks like she was playing in Wellington instead.

But never mind! If Meatloaf had been there he might have said “one out of two ain’t bad”.

And as an added bonus I got to witness a cracking game of football!

It started with a touch of drama, when the team of match officials found themselves a man short. I ran very quickly in the opposite direction when my friend Roberto the Juventus supporting assistant ref asked me if I could fill in. Thankfully the guy who’s actual job it was turned up just in the nick of time before they could catch up with me.

The problem wasn’t confined to the officials either. Eastern Suburbs were also a player short, and had to play the entire match with ten and no subs! Luckily I was in no danger with this issue. Stuff journalist Andrew Voerman, who was in attendance, very charitably suggested that I could pass for 17 but I was feeling fairly safe in the knowledge that my hairline would be a bit of a dead giveaway, amongst other things no doubt.

Once proceedings commenced, it took about 15 minutes for the Ferns to capitalise on their numerical advantage, Grace Jale firing them into the lead before Michaela Robertson made it 2-0 shortly after. But then came Suburbs! They pulled a goal back just two minutes after Robertson’s and equalised right before half time to make it 2-2 at the break.

Suburbs picked up right where they left off as the second half got underway, making it 3-2 within a couple of minutes of the restart, but then the Future Ferns found their way again. Sam Tawharu got the equaliser about ten minutes into the half before Jacqui Hand retook the lead for her side with about ten minutes of the match still to play – which was navigated safely for a thrilling 4-3 win!

Looking at the AFF website, it seems the Future Ferns have one game left before their Conference season is over, although I’m sure they will have a few more fixtures of the friendly variety on home soil after that, before the vast bulk of the team head off for the Under 20 World Cup in France starting in just under a month’s time.

It will be fascinating to see how they do over there, and to maybe get a fix on whether playing boys regularly has stood them in good stead. I’m guessing yes, but let’s watch and find out for sure!

Categories: Football Ferns

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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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