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The Mountain Road Shake

Central United 2, Ellerslie 2
St Peter’s College, Auckland, August 12 2018

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Google Maps says it takes 16 minutes to get from Becroft Park, Forrest Hill, to St Peter’s College in Newmarket – and that seemed optimistic to me, even though it’s motorway a lot of the way. I had precisely 15 minutes from the final whistle of FHM reserves v Western Springs until kick-off in Central United v Ellerslie – and I was in the ground with my camera out with time to spare.

Don’t ask me how I did it but if any cops are reading this – cross my heart and hope to die – I promise that I didn’t break any speed limits. A fair dollop of credit goes to the parking space I miraculously found right outside the gate!

Once inside, as always with my occasional dips into the Conference, it was great to see some familiar names and faces across the two sides that I recognise from NRFL days of yore. Evie Millynn and Gina Swanney lept out at me from the Central team sheet while Sarah Broadbent and someone else (whose name escapes me right now) were kitted out in the red, yellow and black of Ellerslie.

Any look at the Conference is also a good opportunity to scope out a team that we might see gracing Women’s Premier the following year!

And until this game, Ellerslie were in hot contention to be that team. Going into it, their last game of the league season, they needed the win to give themselves a hope.

As things got underway at St Peter’s it looked like this would be a mere formality. They dominated their opponents both before and after Leigh Aitken put them a goal to the good in just the 7th minute and it felt like more goals were just a matter of time. But Central had other ideas, and after Millynn converted a 25th minute penalty the home side lifted and the rest of the half was much more even.

The second half saw the two sides trade blows again within a minute of each other. First Ellerslie retook the lead with 17 minutes of regulation time remaining via Ella Wiebe, before former Papamoa player Gina Swanney hit straight back right from the restart.

Ellerslie piled on the pressure for the rest of the game, and if you go down to St Peter’s right now and check the left hand upright at the Mountain Road end I think you will find it’s still reverberating from one particular shot from Lyric Davison!

But when the final whistle blew, Ellerslie were left shattered – their promotion dreams over for another year at least. If Norwest can win their two games in hand they will play WaiBOP champions Tauranga City United home and away for a place in next year’s Northern League. If they can’t it will be Katie Duncan’s Onehungs Sports side that will enjoy that honour.

I have to say, before wrapping this up, that while Ellerslie’s men’s and women’s first teams may not have won any football competitions this year, after watching both sides this week I am left convinced they would definitely both win a fashion competition. Their Lotto kits, complete with numbers on the front that make my life a whole lot easier when identifying players, are in my opinion the best I have seen this year.

They certainly looked great compared to Central’s in this game – which looked the best part of 20 years old. I can’t say for sure but on the surface it certainly looks like a fairly solid indication of which club values their women’s team more.

Categories: NZ AFF/NFF Women's Conference

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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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