Round 16 – VS Brooklyn Northern United Thirds, Newtown Park
Write-up by Rolf
Elite 2 – 1 Brooklyn Northern Utd
After a tough 1-2 mid-week loss against the Tawa ACU team, the Elite
are looking to face a relegation battle for their last 3 games. First
up are the Brooklyn Northern United Thirds who are on equal points as
the Elite coming to this game. The sky was blue and there was hardly
any breeze noticeable, glorious day for a game of football. The Elite,
once again struggling for numbers, were this time assisted by the
likes of Saji, Niall and Ozzy who were keen for some minutes.
While the boys in orange were enjoying a casual warm-up, the opponent
from Brooklyn came out storming, wearing matching warm-up gear while
they placed down some cones for a run of pre-game training. It didn’t
seem to have much of an influence at first as the Elite looked calm
and confident after their defensive performances against the top teams
in the league. The Elite were eager to get a result, but the confident
looks on their faces were deceiving of a good start.
Not even 5 minutes in, a ball curled in from the corner, met a
Brooklyn head at the back post, miraculously nutmegged both Tim and
Niall, and ended up over the line. Was this the result of the pre-game
work-out by Brooklyn or was it just bad luck? We’ll never know. But
the first goal was in, 0-1 lead for Brooklyn.
After that shocker of a first few minutes, the Elite seemed to
struggle even more. Brooklyn kept coming, outplaying the defensive wit
of the Elite and putting in shot after shot. Some unlucky attempts
from long range, some cat-like saves of Niall in goal, and the Elite’s
little angel on the crossbar prevented the score from getting worse.
All the Elite could do at this stage was hope for an opportunity on
the counter attack and pinch in a lucky goal.
While the Brooklyn team kept raging on the Elite’s defence, those
potential counter attacks seemed to be getting more and more likely.
The Brooklyn defenders started to get slowly less grip on the pace of
Turk, the movement of Levi, the ball control of Gav and the work rate
of Shane. Even the hardworking midfield and the overlapping full-backs
had the chance to occasionally join in.
Although it took a while for a real chance to be created, the first
one immediately counted. And what a goal! Great passing work on the
right side of the pitch allowed for a through ball for Turk to get in
behind the defence. He took a few touches and was looking to give it a
shot, but he kept his overview and squared the ball to Levi who was
given an unmissable one-on-one with the goalie. All that was left was
a coolly slotted finish in the bottom corner. The Elite were back on
level terms, 1-1.
The first half came to a close, some motivational speeches were
shared, and the second half was quickly underway again. The second
half was largely a tactical stalemate, although Brooklyn did come
dangerously into the box a few times on the one end, and some cheeky
passes of the Elite were able to create breakthrough opportunities on
the other side of the pitch. Gav tried to chip the Brooklyn goalie on
one occasion and Shane got tackled from behind while he was looking
for the one-on-one.
Bad luck for both sides, and a draw seemed to be the likely outcome as
energy was draining from both sides towards the end. The Thirds from
Brooklyn forgot one thing however. ‘Last-minute Turk’. For a few times
this season he has proven that defenders will need to stay
concentrated for at least 90+5 minutes, as his speed and dribble are
an eminent threat. And it proved yet again. Jason, who came back in as
a left-back, won the ball at the half-way line and didn’t hesitate for
one second when he heard Turk screaming for the ball. Jason played a
perfect 30 yard through ball and Turk was left one-on-one. You could
see doubt in the goalkeeper's eyes. Is he going left? Is he going
right? One dummy to the right, and a little flick to the left it is!
See ya, Mr. Goalkeeper!
With the tip of his boot Turk slotted the winning goal. What a win for
the Elite! Undeserved? Maybe. But the 3 points are staying at Newtown
Park. The lads had all reason to celebrate and holding a massive fine
session after the game to boost the piggy bank. The end-of-the-season
is coming near!
Next week the boys are playing at the Boyd Wilson Turf at Victoria
University against the Beavers. All, come and watch these boys fight
in their battle against relegation. Just a few more points will do the
a fantastic team performance above all!
2 – Turk – Didn’t see much of the ball for most of the game, but made
it count when it mattered. One goal and one assist to be added to the
2 – Vaughan ‘Ozzy’ – Deserves a reward for making his comeback on the
big pitch after a long time, and putting in a great performance.
1 – Tim – Was working incredibly hard in the back, keeping it as tight
as possible for most of the game.
1 – Garrick – Working hard in the full-back position and even joining
the attack on a few occasions.
Write-up By Tim
After a few competitive losses on the trot the Elite headed to Wakefield Park on a weird 8pm Wednesday fixture to take on the second on the table Tawa Christians (or something like that) who had only lost one in the second half of the season. The first blessing of the evening was for both teams however. A nice evening at Wakefield Park?! No wind, rain, hail, snow?! It was actually a nice night to play football.
As had so often been the story of the Elite this season numbers were very slim. Even despite the uni break being over and having a few lads back in Welly we only managed 6 confirmed players by monday and as usual asked a big favour of champion Dave to scramble an eleven together. As usual, Dave pulled through, we had 13 and were ready to rumble.
The Elite started a bit scrappy as was so often the case a few names in the makeshift eleven to learn. We fielded an extremely defensive lineup, with sole attacker Clem coming out of retirement just for this huge fixture. Perhaps he had renewed confidence with Le Bleu winning the World Cup, or maybe he just wanted to tell us all about it? Clem remained humble however and put in a massive shift up top and eventually we worked our way back into the football match.
Our gameplan was to park the bus and frustrate the opposition (play the devil, if you will) and it worked very well once we managed to shake off the trademark first ten minutes rust. We worked the short goal kicks well, and Dan and Damo were communicating well at the back to keep the Christians shooting from distance.
And out of nowhere we had a goal! The short goal kick worked again to our advantage. The ball was distributed to Gaz who played an excellent through ball into the French Menace up top Clem. Despite my yelling at Clem to pass it back to Gaz, Clem went for a (cross) shot instead. The ball sailed helplessly over the keeper and into the net. 1-0 Elite.
This seemed to inspire the Christians holy battle however, and a few marginal calls from a very apologetic and chivalrous referee saw the Christians manufacture a few chances. Most notable was a free kick at the edge of the box after some holy spirit tripped their attacker (it definitely wasnt one of us?) However the free kick sailed haplessly over.
The Christians were looking to suck our defenders out to the flanks and playing through balls through the middle (some could say, part the Orange Sea). Before the Elite could switch onto this game plan, they worked the move again with a vengeance. The ball ended up around the 6 yard box for a free shot. Despite CJ being a brick wall up until this point, there was nothing he could do here. 1-1.
The Elite came back out of the sheds at half time feeling confident of keeping the score 1-1 and maybe even sneaking in a goal to win. Some of our best football was played in these opening ten or fifteen. The Christians were only shooting from distance, and the Elite actually looked at times like snaking a goal, although these efforts were not fruitful (garden of eden joke).
Eventually however, the Christians made this work for them, their winger bolted down the line as the defence stood him up. His shot from outside of the box was hardly what he was intending, something of a toe poke which somehow ended up being a curler; but the important thing for the Elite was that it somehow wriggled past CJ into the bottom corner, 2-1 Tawa.
As we started to push forward the quality of football dropped, and Tawa were quite happy to let us attack, take the ball and shoot forward on the counter. In truth, from this point on, we never really looked like scoring.
A valiant effort from the lads against classy opposition with a deity on their side. In truth, we weren't the better side on the day, but a performance like that with a makeshift side and a few players back from a few weeks out should give us confidence for saturday.
2 - Rolf. Work ethic was unbelievable, did the hard yards for the team even when being forced to switch positions a few times. One of his better performances this season
2 - Clem. His aggression was unrivalled, and managed to snag an important goal which put us in a good position to take something from the match
1 - CJ. Made some excellent saves when called upon, worked the short goal kicks well, was an outlet to pass back to.
1 - Stu. As always held up the ball excellently. We didnt have much possession, but when we did, it usually went through this man.
Honourable mention: Lewis. Came to help out, ran like anything, was a communicator on the pitch and was great on the ball. Thanks for helping out mate.
Elite Match Reports