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Smash and grab

Capital 2, WaiBOP 1
Memorial Park, Petone, Saturday 13 October 2018

First off, a quick run-down of things I thought during a close, occasionally quite tense, game. Time stamps are approximations.

39’ [WaiBOP score through Kelli Brown] – “Awww shite”

70’ [WaiBOP look strong] – “I’m going to mute my chat with Enzo”

89’ [Cap’s shots do not go in] – “Maybe I’ll block Enzo on Twitter too”

89’ [Cap score through Charlotte Wilford-Carroll] – “Oh HELLO maybe not”

90+2’–90+3.5’ [General in-game chaos as both teams chase the three points] – “A draw’s probably fair. Cap had the running in the first half, WaiBOP the second. Cap, please DO NOT CONCEDE. Do I want the final whistle to go? I dunno, yeah, get this over with.”

90+4 – [Cap score through Sarah Gregorius] “YESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESYESsorryenzoandwaibopYESYESYESYESYES

If I’m being totally honest, in my heart of hearts I’m not 100% sure Cap deserved that. Not all three points. WaiBOP ran them close the entire game and, while Cap had the stronger first half, WaiBOP grew in confidence and dominance in the second half.

Maybe a point apiece might have been fair.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly relieved Cap got them. Dropping any more points this week, ahead of the byes in the double header weekend, would probably count them out of any chance of making the top two. And there’s still a long way to go – we’re only reaching the halfway stage of the NWL season (and how good does it feel to say that!). So until you’re out of it mathematically, you’re still in it. Cap, as far as I’m concerned, are still in it.

From the slightly delayed kickoff due to Wellington’s inclement conditions delaying the ref’s arrival, Capital started the stronger of the two sides. Emma Main looked dangerous cutting in from the left wing with the ball at her feet, creating some of the home side’s best chances for herself. Asha Strom and Sarah Alder were comfortable in the heart of Cap’s defence, and captain Kennedy Bryant ran the midfield.

Yet they looked vulnerable to the counter down the flanks – particularly to WaiBOP’s quick transition. While Cap pressed on WaiBOP when in possession, they couldn’t pull back quickly enough when possession was lost.

Indeed this is how WaiBOP opened the scoring, as Ella Golding drove down the touchline and whipped a Beckham-esque cross in for Kelli Brown to emphatically finish five minutes before half time.

Two minutes later they were almost 2-0 to the good, with a shot rattled off a strategically placed crossbar, while Courtney Norman reacted well to save the rebound and keep Cap in it.

WaiBOP picked up in the second half more or less where they’d left off, flooding down the wings and, when Cap did break, the defence, well-anchored by Tiana Grey, were comfortable dealing with it.

Midway through the half, Cap almost hauled themselves back in it as Charlotte Wilford-Carroll unleashed what’s becoming a trademark shot from outside of the box, inspiring an outstanding save from WaiBOP’s Georgia Candy midway through the half.

JourneyFan Charlotte Wilford Carroll.jpg

Capital’s Charlotte Wilford-Carroll lets rip with a shot from outside the area. Photo: TheJourneyFan

At that point it started to feel like the side in red and blue would be boarding the plane with three points nestled in their carry-on luggage. The intensity and belief in WaiBOP’s game – spying the opportunity to pick up their first win of the season – spiked as Capital’s accuracy and composure began to waver, as passes were over-hit and shots wouldn’t connect.

But as the clock ran down, two talismans stepped up.

First, the young gun Charlotte Wilford-Carroll, who had threatened the WaiBOP goal all game, whose ability to pick out a goal and at the same pick Cap up is becoming more visible game by game. Her first two goals of the league, against Central and AFF, demonstrated her knack . But her third of the NWL campaign was more dogged determination to find something in the game for Cap – stabbing in a loose ball from close range in the 89th.

So at 1-all, with added time signalled on the clock, it was game on. WaiBOP surged forwards from the restart, but couldn’t find the decisive final ball.

And the winner, 20 seconds from full time? Had to be Sarah Gregorius. Subbed on at half time and playing in an advanced midfield role, who else would burst into the box after the WaiBOP defence failed to clear the ball; who else would place the ball in the bottom left-hand corner, break WaiBOP hearts and ruin Enzo’s golf day, but the Football Fern?

JourneyFan Greggo and Wilford-Carroll celebrate equaliser

The goalscorers celebrate. Photo: TheJourneyFan

Big thanks to ITBOTN’s friend Dave Webster for letting me pilfer the photos. For more from the match see here, and follow him on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Ella Reilly

Waiheke Islander currently in exile in Wellington. Supporter of Nottingham Forest and England, through thick and thin (there's been plenty of that). As a player is somewhat averse to the offside rule.

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