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A VARy strange ending

Forrest Hill Milford 1, Western Springs 0
Becroft Park, Auckland, August 12 2018

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Sunday was a gloriously sunny winter’s day that saw me finally get out and watch what was shamefully only the second full reserves game I have seen in my life.

Of course, my reason for attending this one was identical to my reason for the other one I covered back in April last year – to watch and support ITBOTN writer Helena Wiseman!

This was Helena’s first game back from grade 2 lateral sprains and a tear in the tibealis posterior tendon in her right ankle. The injury was sustained twenty loooong weeks ago in a pre-season hitout vs Glen Eden when she was clipped, landed awkwardly, and was trod and fallen on by the offending defender. Very ouch to say the least!

So it was great to see her back out there and enjoying her football once again after such a long enforced leave of absence from the game she loves.

And it was also great to take in two young sides that featured plenty of talented players to watch out for in the future. Of particular note were the FHM trio of Aoife King, Alaina Granger and Hannah Reddy who are all names to store away for future reference if you ask me!

It was a bit of a grudge match for FHM too. Even though they have already won the league by some distance, one of the few blots on their copybook was a 1-0 loss to Springs back in June and I am sure they will have been quite keen on a spot of utu.

They got it in the end, but not before a fair few hairy moments at both ends of the pitch and one of the more bizarre incidents I have ever witnessed to wrap things up at the end of the match!

After a hard fought 90 minutes where both sides traded plenty of blows that flashed wide, ricocheted off crossbars and got intercepted by tidy goalkeeping, FHM finally got what they and many if not most other observers seemed to assume was an uncontroversial match winner in the dying seconds of injury time. Except the referee wasn’t so sure!

Alex Ragg was the player who had put the ball in the back of the old onion bag after it had taken a deflection off a Springs defender. But was she offside? The referee took an eternity to bizarrely consult with a sideline spectator. It was like VAR except there was no footage!

Even when he had wrapped that conversation up and waved away the pleadings of FHM skipper Jess McKimm he STILL couldn’t seem to make up his mind. I know it probably meant a great deal to the players but the foremost question in my mind was “does it really matter?” There was precious little riding on the match. Just make a decision either way!

Eventually he did and it was to allow the goal to stand.

Almost as inexplicable as all that palaver was the game continuing for a few more minutes after it! But despite that nothing further was added to the scoring columns of the team sheets and FHM took all three points.

I have been a critic of compulsory reserves squads in the NRFL in the past, and although I maintain that dispensation should be granted to clubs who genuinely can’t sustain them, I can now see their value when used properly as a player development tool. And I know that one of my big concerns, that the smaller WaiBOP clubs struggle with them, is no-longer an issue to the point where some of them are now the reserve leagues’ biggest fans!

Ultimately, reserves football is growing on me to the point where I might just look for an excuse to go to two games next year!

Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier

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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/

2 replies

    1. And Mr Ragg with the Flag !

      Lots of Mt Albert Grammar girls in both sides (not all choosing to play for school though)

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