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Last-minute goal gives Cardigans the win

Sunday Cardigans – 4, Unipods – 3
Wellington College, August 19, 2018

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Sunday Cardigans scored a last-minute goal to win 4-3 over Division Four rivals Unipods in their final Wellington Sunday Football League match for the season.

The early stages of the match saw a flurry of goals. Cardigans midfielder John Cunningham opened the scoring with a mazy run that saw him round three Unipods defenders inside the box before slotting the ball into the goal with a left-footed shot. Unipods answered with a goal of their own when striker Alex O’Malley intercepted an attempt to head the ball clear by a Cardigans defender at the edge of the penalty box, equalising with a powerful strike.

The score didn’t remain 1-1 for long as Cunningham received a layoff from his right winger at the top of the 18-yard box, shooting the ball past the keeper and putting Cardigans ahead 2-1. This was promptly followed by a sweetly struck curving corner from Griff Davidson that sailed into the goal, with just the slightest touch from the keeper, to bring the score to 3-1.

Cardigans continued to attack well into the half and Unipods may have gone another goal down when a well-placed through ball sat up for Guillermo Domber. Domber ran into the box at pace and would have had an easy chance if it wasn’t for a brilliant sliding tackle from left wing back Cody Scott of Unipods.

Cardigans switched to a 3-4-3 formation at the start of the second half – a move that cost them dearly when Matt Skene and O’Malley of Unipods linked up following a passing error from the defenders. With numbers upfield, Cardigans couldn’t scramble back in time and the two-on-one attack saw O’Malley walk the ball in to bring the score to 3-2.

Unipods had adjusted to Cardigans’ change of formation well, finding momentum and stringing together a series of attacks. O’Malley nearly repeated Davidson’s feat, curling a corner kick inches from the far post. Just minutes later a Unipods’ cross connected with a defender’s hand, resulting in a penalty.

While Cardigans keeper David de Orla saved both the initial shot and a follow-up shot from the deflection, the referee ruled he had left his line early. Another penalty was awarded, and de Orla was unable to prevent O’Malley from levelling the score 3-3 with his hat-trick goal.

The Cardigans players lifted their efforts and energy levels, but Unipods had switched goalkeepers at half-time. Substitute Adam van der Voorn was impressive, making diving saves at full stretch and batting away threatening high balls.

While Cardigans had the lion’s share of possession, van der Voorn held them scoreless for the majority of the half. But as the game neared its conclusion, a handball in the Unipods penalty area saw Mauricio Molina step up to the penalty spot, hammering an unsaveable shot far to the keeper’s right to bring the game to its final score of 4-3.

“It was a good, close game”, said O’Malley after the match. “It hurts a bit to have it taken away at the end like that – but it felt great to get the hat-trick.”

Cunningham said Cardigans were proud of the win and deserved to come out on top after holding the majority of possession and attacking opportunities.

“Justice was done with the penalty at the end.”

Davidson said Cardigans had been unlucky in many other close-fought matches throughout the season, and the team was elated to come out with a victory to end the season.

Sunday Cardigans are part of the Sunday Blazers Football and Culture Club, which has teams in Division One, Two, and Four of the Wellington Sunday Football League. The club is known for its Latin flair, with many team members originating from South America, and club members also formed a touring band ‘Cumbia Blazera’, a Colombian Cumbia music group.

Unipods is playing its first season in the Wellington Sunday Football League and formed when college friends with no football experience wanted to give it a go. The team has gained experience and new players over the course of the season and scored its first win three weeks ago.

In other Division Four action, Wellington Chinese United beat Porirua Club Battlers 2-1, while a high-scoring match between Pirates FC and The Dave Bakers ended 6-5 in favour of The Dave Bakers.

Sunday Cardigans’ Division One counterpart Sunday Blazers won its match against Lazy 11 3-2. Valley FC Trust has found late form to take the Division Two title, beating former leaders V-Well 4-1. Marauders held second place with a 4-1 victory over Four Four Two while both HHH United and Inter Galactic FC had solid victories in the leadup to their Plate semi-final clash, winning 2-0 and 5-2 respectively.

Expected Toulouse continued its winning streak in Division Three, demolishing division leaders Ball Tamperers 5-1. Shamrocks beat Rogue X1 5-3, while Sharks FC dealt Valley Soccer Friends a 6-2 drubbing.

Thirty-six teams are competing in this year’s Wellington Sunday Football League, a community based 11-a-side league that was founded over 40 years ago and is growing year-on-year. A full table of results and fixtures can be found at https://tinyurl.com/WSFL2018.

Next weekend’s action (August 26)
The final rounds of the Sunday Football League Cup and Plate competitions are yet to play out.

North Wellington will take on Lazy 11 in their Cup semifinal, while the other semi will be contested by Sunday Blazers and league winners Sudakas FC.

The first Plate semifinal will be played between HHH United and Inter Galactic FC, while the other Plate matchup will see Fireraiders take on Los Blazeros.

Categories: Wellington Sunday Football League

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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