Elite 1 - 0 Olympic
The first home game of the season and and a return to Newtown Park #1 for the Elite.
Following a tough mid-week fixture and a dominant away leg to the Hutt, the lads were fired up for a another strong performance against a team showing some early form in the grade.
Newtown Park hasn't started the season in the best of nick to start the season despite (apparently) much work from the council on the turf during the off-season but the Elite were lucky enough to have had a good storm bring much rain and regrowth ahead of their first run out on it. No one was enjoying that rain quite so much only a week before during our match however.
Despite a few notables absences we had a starting eleven and even a few subs on deck and were lucky enough to have the youthful trio of Tim, Gus and Issac all on deck to help out - despite clearly having all made a trip to the barber this week. CJ returned from a golfing hiatus to take up a spot in goal on the hallowed turf and only time would time if his legs could hold out for the full 90 before he needed a lie down between the sticks.
The first half was a cagey affair with both teams having patches of possession and some go forward, but neither team managing to get quite the foothold in the game they wanted. Gav was providing a solid outlet up front (even if straying offside on a few too many occasions), while a makeshift defensive three were doing and admirable job of cleaning things up at the back screened by some excellent midfield work in front of them - all of which was under the constant advisement of the little general in goal.
Everyone on the pitch was digging deep. The constant battle for meaningful possession combined with a large, wide pitch meant some tired legs out there for both sides but Olympic seemed to feel the worst of it making subs every three minutes for most of the half.
Half time came and the message was simple in that we just needed to keep playing our game and the chances would come.
The second half saw a few changes in personel for both sides but this fixture seemed set to remain a tight affair and you'd have been forgiven for thinking the deadlock would never be broken. However a whipped in cross scarmbled into the back of the net proved otherwise. Some might suggest there was a hint of own goal but the prevailing opinion was that one of the youth trio got a toe on it - who could tell who though given their bold new looks.
Olympic knew there was still much to play for and took of defenders to bring on an extra striker. Super defender Niall was brought in to counteract the change and brought his new striking form found with the Tuatara to a defensive role. You might be able to take the man out of striker but you couldn't take the striking instinct out of the man as he put on a master class of backheels and cruyff turns as defensive moves.
CJ remained calm despite the shenanagins and even took a brief nap during the second half only to discover a shot bearing down on him. Luckily he scrambled back to his feet just in time to watch it sail high and wide.
Olympics best efforts didn't prove enough to overcome the staunch defending of the last 15 minutes and a one nil victory was secured, alongside the first clean sheet of the season.
A hard earned three points today but a well deserved spot at second on the table.
Stu - 2 points - was the key to breaking up play and winning ball in the first half and put in a big shift to still be out there every it everything in the second
Gav - 2 points - Was very unlucky not to score during the first 45 but provided a constant threat up front before shifting deeper to help out some tired legs.
Shane - 1 point - As he does every week he ran his ass off and constantly gave the midfielders an outlet
Jase - 1 point -Playing in his least favourite spot but lead the denfence well and was key to ensuring we came away with all three points in this one.