Central 0, WaiBOP 3
Massey University, Palmerston North, October 22 2018
Ok, I admit it. My reaction to WaiBOP’s loss on Saturday was a quintessential sulky teenage tantrum that is unbecoming of a 42 year-old. At full time I packed up my camera gear, flounced off to the car without saying goodbye to anyone, went back to the hotel and wrote a petulant blog post. So mature.
They say it’s not how you carry yourself in victory that shows your class, it’s how you behave in defeat. In this test, I failed.
As I unceremoniously hurled my gear back into the boot of my car, one of the slightly irrational (in hindsight) things that was swirling around my mind was the thought that this was ALL somehow Palmerston North’s fault. The wind had been howling an absolute gale, the pitch was a bit weird – and this was supposed to be a home game. I felt that if they had played on a less exposed and more familiar pitch in Tauranga, Rotorua or Taupo my team would have won. And maybe they would have – surely at least one or two of those 9,786 shots they took might well have found the back of the net.
But as it turned out, if Palmerston North was in any way to blame for that result then it also deserves a fair chunk of credit for the turnaround two days later.
In normal circumstances, after a loss like that, the players would head home shortly after full time without much opportunity for collective reflection until they meet again for training on Tuesday – by which time emotions have dulled over the intervening days. Not this week though. This week they were stuck with each other for much longer than that!
And a couple of sources have said that the chance to nut out their problems as a team wasn’t wasted. It sounds like Saturday was a night of recriminations, then Sunday was an opportunity to relax, heal and bond together before regrouping on Monday to have another bite at the cherry.
Whether or not that is a fair summation of what happened, whatever it was they did worked because watching them in their team huddle before Monday’s game – they looked relaxed, united and determined when I wouldn’t have been shocked to see them still broken after two successive injury time defeats.
“Don’t get frustrated!” was the call from Michael Mayne around twenty minutes in when, much like two days prior, somehow the shots didn’t seem to be going in – until one did very shortly after Mayney’s pleadings. Kelli Brown pounced on a rebound from the crossbar and found the roof of the net.
Brown went on to double her side’s lead in first half injury time, curling a lovely shot in from the edge of the D after cutting in from near the left hand side line.
On another note, one of the absolute pleasures of the weekend was watching Central coach Don Piper work. His persistent positivity is infectious. One of the little things I noticed on Saturday was how buoyant Central looked at half time – obviously excited by their first half showing and the 0-0 score line they were out on the pitch long before their opponents doing sprints as they waited for WaiBOP to saunter out for the second half.
On Monday they were out there early once more but, with the score sitting at 2-0 against them, they looked rather mopey by comparison – until Don picked up on the vibe and, instead of thinking his job was done having delivered the team talk in the proverbial sheds, he ran over and pulled them into another quick huddle. Moments later they were bouncing around doing their sprints again.
And following that the home side’s second half performance was much improved as they not only showed their characteristic grit on defence but also created some great opportunities for themselves to get back into the game.
They didn’t even drop their heads when, twelve minutes from time, Kelli Brown went on a bit of a rampage, running through a crowd of four defenders before laying off to Shae Brady who’s shot was tipped back into Brown’s path to enable her to complete her hat-trick.
Big chances followed at both ends in a whirlwind last ten minutes or so, but I was in a bit of an uncomfortable position – I had picked 3-0 in The Return Fixture tipping competition so was sitting there just praying that nobody would score! Luckily, after many a near heart attack, I got my wish and my first five points of the season.
Football, you’re not so bad after all.
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.