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Auckland 3, Canterbury 1
McLennan Park, Auckland, October 28 2018

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Today, McLennan Park in Papakura was the venue of the 50th football game I’ve photographed in 2018. What a year it has been so far! It started with the Virgili Cup final at 12:01am on January the 1st and since then I’ve seen Auckland City regain the men’s national league title, Birkenhead regain the Chatham Cup (with a team full of teenagers no less) and a Dunedin team win the Kate Sheppard Cup for the first time in history. I saw New Zealand Maori play Australian First Nations in Papakura, Melville return to the men’s Northern Premier League in Ellerslie, Claudelands get relegated from the women’s Northern Premier League in Hamilton and Kaitaia United draw 1-1 with Mangawhai at Taipa Area School.

I was prepared for all of those eventualities. What I wasn’t prepared for was seeing Auckland beat the Canterbury United Pride in the National Women’s League at McLennan Park today! Well… almost but not really…

I picked a draw in The Return Fixture tipping comp this week because I thought, over the last couple of weeks, that the Pride aren’t completely invincible. I also thought that Auckland would go into this game more desperate than a side with a seven point buffer at the top of the table. But even bearing all of that in mind, I still wasn’t quite prepared to predict a loss for them. Afterall, winning is just what they do.

Not today though.

Auckland were certainly capable. They have a team packed with Ferns, age group Ferns and talented young players who will be Ferns. They haven’t always been performing like it – especially backing up from a double-header weekend where they failed to get on the score sheet at all against Northern in 180 minutes of football – but they have been threatening. Their attack is too electric and their defence too solid not to put it all together at some point.

And what a time to do it!

This performance was a real statement to any and all observers, including this one, who might have been a teensy weensy bit guilty of writing them off too early.

They didn’t just win, they outplayed the Pride from start to finish and if anything the 3-1 scoreline flattered the Cantabrians – especially considering one second half shot from auckland cannoned off the crossbar and down into the goalmouth where some argued it had crossed the line. Not that it mattered particularly. For all intents and purposes the game was already over by then.

Auckland had dominated the opening exchanges and it was no surprise when Paige Satchell broke into space before presenting Grace Jale with the game’s opening goal in the 13th minute. Canterbury came into the match a bit more after that but still weren’t able to trouble Corina Brown too much before the whistle blew for half time.

Auckland doubled their advantage when Satchell got onto the scoresheet herself shortly after the break, but just four minutes after that Annalie Longo, who for the most part had been kept more quiet than usual by her markers up until this point, pulled one back for the Pride to give a brief glimmer of hope that both a comeback and my tipping comp prediction may still be on the cards.

It wasn’t to be though. While you can never rule out the Pride, Jade Parris’s 68th minute screamer from distance pretty much put the game beyond their reach.

Fifty games into a year, several hundreds of games into a decade and thousands of games into a lifetime, football is always going to surprise you from time to time.

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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