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WaiBOP 0, Auckland 4
Gower Park, Hamilton, September 15 2018

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Well that was a rather quiet, sombre, some might say sulky drive back along State Highway One from Hamilton for me. It’s silly really. Looking at these two sides on paper it was always going to be very, very difficult for WaiBOP to get anything out of their first game. But I wanted them to sooooo much and, just like the beginning of every other National Women’s League season since the Punic Wars, I had managed to talk myself into thinking that the three points were there for the taking.

In a sense, they had to be. Yes, the season has doubled in length and therefore teams can afford to have slow starts. But even still, after this WaiBOP are away to the Canterbury United Pride and then they have a bye before a tricky “home” game in Papakura (don’t get me started) against a Southern United side that just demolished Central 6-1 in Dunedin. My home province simply has to pick up some points of some description in this period or it’s going to be very difficult to haul themselves into a competitive position in this league.

Of course, you can’t write anyone off after one round. And for all intents and purposes, this was a pre-season game for a team that has only been together for a couple of weeks due to club commitments only finishing a week or two ago. Even if it was the same for both sides in that respect, this Auckland team is endowed with a fair bit more experience than their WaiBOP counterparts.

It’s not all doom and gloom from a WaiBOP perspective though. They kept their opponents scoreless in the first half with a solid defensive display, aided slightly by an Auckland attacking trident that struggled to calibrate their shooting radar in the early stages.

What a front three it is though with Paige Satchell and Jade Parris in particular storming around and through WaiBOP players almost at will. Chelsea Elliott and Kate Williams are a good experienced defensive pair and Georgia Candy was superb between the sticks as always but when the likes of those two young guns along with even younger gun Britney Cunningham Lee are running at you constantly there is only going to be one eventual outcome.

It was Parris who opened the scoring in the 52rd minute before Sam Muirhead doubled Auckland’s advantage sixteen minutes later. Just three minutes after that a penalty was awarded and coolly converted by Lucy Carter to make it 3-0. Parris grabbed her second to complete the scoring with 15 minutes of the match remaining.

WaiBOP had their moments, but the Auckland defence wasn’t tested to any great extent over the course of the 90 minutes and I’m not sure Corina Brown was seriously troubled at all.

While it was a disappointing result for the home side, credit must go to the visitors who look rather formidable. Sometimes you just have to accept that the opposition were better, and they were.

A bouquet also needs to go to Gower Park, which is a superb venue. Having said that however, while the pitch may have looked like a carpet it’s now getting dug up and resewn before the next ACTUAL WaiBOP home game against Mainland on November 3rd!

Perhaps it’s a metaphor?

At the start of the match a WaiBOP official told me that some of the team were a bit irritated by Ella and Helena’s predictions in our preview post. Next time I see them at Gower, when the season will be into its second half and the team well and truly no longer newly assembled, I remain hopeful that the football will match the facilities and I won’t be getting any more gloating full-time Facebook messages like this:

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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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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