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Hurtling towards the abyss

Auckland 1, WaiBOP 1
McLennan Park, Auckland, December 2 2018

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Well, I’ll be gaddammed, it’s December again already! How did that happen? Let me tell you – getting old is how it happened. We all eventually come to the cold, hard, realisation that time speeds up exponentially the older we get, as we inevitably hurtle towards the abyss…

And you thought it would be yesterday’s late equaliser that would plunge this post into a melancholic crater? Don’t worry, I’ve got much bigger fish to fry.

I wasn’t the only one with problems yesterday either. Because while, obviously for me, December has rolled around just a tad quickly, I strongly suspect that for the young whipper snapper players in these two squads the end of the year can’t come soon enough. The seriously depleted line-ups the two coaches apparently had at their disposal for this clash led me to a theory that more than a few players are all footballed out.

Before the game Auckland coach Tracy Wrigley told me she had a sob-story battle with WaiBOP’s Michael Mayne to see who was more hard done by. I was told Auckland only had nine players at training mid-week but looking out of the club room window as I waited for my cheese and pineapple toasted sandwich to be grilled to perfection, I only counted 9 WaiBOP outfielders warming up! Advantage Mayney methinks.

The team from down the line did manage to field eleven warm bodies by the time kick-off rolled around, but they were seriously subtitutionally challenged to the point where I thought asking the reserve keeper to change into a red and blue kit might not have been a terrible move.

The other thing that enhanced my theory about everyone being ready for Christmas was the standard of the game. It wasn’t exactly Champagne football – to the point where mid-way through the second half I was struggling to think of a moment when either of the two goalkeepers had been seriously tested.

Both sides were creating more and more opportunities as things unfolded though, to the point where I will claim some credit for predicting the opening goal. As WaiBOP set up for a 73rd minute free kick I turned to fellow photographer David Joseph and said “a WaiBOP goal wouldn’t be entirely undeserved you know…” Seconds later Auckland goalkeeper Corina Brown fumbled into the path of Lilly Muspratt who was able to tap in.

And with that, Auckland’s season hung in the balance. A loss for them here and we would have had a guaranteed Pride v Lights final. But of course they were playing WaiBOP so… Yeah. Tessa Leong. Equaliser. You know when.

A kind soul on Twitter posed the question: Are you ok? My answer: Used to it.

If WaiBOP had won every game they should have won based on the first 89 minutes of play, they’d be on 15 points and ahead of Southern United on the table, which is quite frankly a fairer indication of their abilities – from the neck down at least.

But hey, I’m not a total misery guts (no, really) – this was a great point to get against the auld enemy. It means, with Central’s season done, WaiBOP can no longer finish bottom of the league and they can’t even finish level bottom only to be spared the wooden spoon by goal difference – as looked certain to be the case before yesterday. If you had offered me a draw against one of the best teams in the league before the game I would have ripped your arm off to take it!

And the result also means we all get virtual semi-final between Canterbury and Auckland at English Park next weekend. I was sad we wouldn’t get any semis this year and now we’ve got one.

So you see, there’s nothing to be sad about! Except the whole hurtling towards the abyss thing but at least there’s some football to watch along the way right?

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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