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Marauders win not enough to secure the title

Marauders FC – 4, Zazaspor – 3
Wellington College, September 9 2018

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Marauders FC held its composure against strong opposition from Zazaspor, winning 4-3 in a match filled with exciting chances and near-misses.

The match began with a flurry of opportunities from both sides. Every shot was placed just over the crossbar and every attack defused by scrambling defence. Pressure was building on both teams, but it wasn’t until the 20th minute that Marauders was able to capitalise.

Marauders’ strikers pushed forward, forcing Zazaspor’s left wing-back into the corner of the pitch. An underwhelming clearance went only as far as Marauders’ midfielder Tim Dalman at the edge of the 18-yard box. Dalman had time to aim his shot low and left, giving Zazaspor keeper Martin Oraha no chance of a save and bringing the score to 1-0.

In reply, Zazaspor fired up short passing sequences with Ali Jamel achieving a frenetic pace on attack and making Marauders’ defenders work hard. Simon Ross defended well in turn, launching booming clearances nearly the full length of the field. The match was played from end-to-end, with Zazaspor playing for possession and Marauders for field position.

It continued this way until a free kick was awarded 10 metres past halfway on the edge of the centre circle. The resulting kick was struck with power, made all the more lethal by a sublime header from Will “Fold” Matthews, who finished off the long-range goal. This put Marauders ahead 2-0. A third goal followed shortly after as Dalman slotted a penalty goal into the bottom right hand corner following a handball in the Zazaspor penalty area.

Zazaspor wasn’t finished though, and the team’s short passes and powerful running plays drew them ever nearer to the Marauders goal. Sham Suarez shot just inches above the crossbar three times in a row, while Muhand Towbiya played with pace and commitment, chasing down every loose ball with great intensity.

Ross was caught back alone. Suarez and Towbiya pounced, claiming the ball and overwhelming the keeper with quick one-two passes across the goal. Towbiya delivered the finishing touch to bring the score to 3-1.

The opportunities continued as the half wound to a close with several close calls. With just seconds left on the clock, Zazaspor’s Uruguayan import Germán Gutiérrez delivered the perfect cross from the left wing which was flicked into the top right corner of the goal by a well-placed header from Suarez, bringing the half-time score to 3-2.

Marauders started strongly in the second half but couldn’t seem to get any power into a series of shots which rolled slowly along the turf to Oraha. Zazaspor put the pressure on with fast and physical play, but Marauders held composure.

The game continued in this stalemate for 20 minutes, until Zazaspor’s defenders were caught napping following a substitution. Just seconds after taking the field, Oliver Christie-Limbrick sped past the unprepared defenders and raised the score to 4-2 with a shot that ricocheted off the keeper and into the goal.

Zazaspor answered immediately when Suarez spotted the Marauders keeper pushing forward, allowing him to chip a precision ball over the keeper’s head to bring the score to 4-3. Gutiérrez and Towbiya threatened on several occasions, while Suarez unleashed a rain of powerful long shots. But even fiery upfield play from Zazaspor couldn’t get past Jake Pearson and the Marauders defenders who held out to win the game 4-3.

Zazaspor team manager Zaza said it had been an exciting match but his players were frustrated they hadn’t been able to capitalise on a string of opportunities.

“It was a good match. Exciting, but we had a few opportunities that could have gone much better, and a few mistakes early on that cost us the game.”

Marauders FC was the only team still in contention for the Division Two title, albeit with an outside chance that would have required Valley FC Trust to lose its match against Inter Galactic FC later that evening.

While Inter Galactic lagged eight places behind on the points table, anything seemed possible as they had knocked Valley FC out of contention in the Wellington Sunday Football League Plate quarterfinals four weeks prior. The matchup was more revenge match than repeat though, and Valley FC took the match 9-0 to become this year’s Wellington Sunday Football League Division Two champions.

Marauders held second place in the division, with Zazaspor coming in third. V-Well dropped to fifth after a 6-2 loss to Battlers FC, while Fireraiders claimed fourth spot after a 6-2 victory over Four Four Two FC. HHH and Los Blazeros drew 2-2.

Thirty-six teams are competing across four divisions 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.

CUP FINALS ARE HERE
Sunday Blazers take on North Wellington in the Wellington Sunday Football League Cup final at Wellington College next week. North Wellington steamrolled Lazy 11 with a 6-1 victory in the semi-finals, while Sunday Blazers won its semi-final 5-2 over Division One winners Sudakas FC, who had otherwise gone unbeaten all season.

HHH and Fireraiders will go head-to-head in the Plate, and next week’s competition also features a promotion match for Expected Toulouse, which has gone unbeaten since promotion to Division Three earlier in the season and has high hopes of breaking through into the higher divisions.

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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