Symmetries, irony's, coincidences, call them what you like, football is full of them. For example, Ricki Herbert's All White career began with an appearance in the famous 4-0 victory over Mexico in 1980, he finished it as the manager in 2013 with a 4-2 loss against...................., yep, Mexico!
There was some of that going on this weekend, thanks to having work shifts changed on me, the games that worked out best for me to get to both involved Upper Hutt City.
The W-League was into it's second round and Upper Hutt City had stunned everyone (well maybe except for themselves) by hammering last season's Central League champions Wellington United 7-0 away from home. It was a match that has been described as the Sarah Gregorius show, after she scored six of the seven goals. It left Upper Hutt five points clear and Capital Football saying in their weekly preview, that it didn't look as if anyone could catch them.
Palmerston North Marist, however, had different ideas and are not a team to be taken lightly. The last four league and cup games between these teams have been decided by a single goal (three wins to Upper Hutt, one for PN Marist). Simon Lee's team had come to Maidstone Park with a plan, which was to play a high line of defence, put Upper Hutt under pressure, not allowing them any time on the ball, forcing them into mistakes and to mark Sarah Gregorius out of the game. The last tactic was superbly performed by Amber Phillips.
|Sarah Gregorius (UHC) avoids Amber Phillips (PNM) The JourneyFan|
In the 38th minute, Tilly James got a shot across the goal which went in at the far post and gave Marist a deserved 1-0 lead going into halftime.
In the second half Upper Hutt eventually started to get back into the game, and in the 75th minute after a fine run down the left wing Gregorius's cross found Emma Main, who tapped in her 11th goal of the season and it was all square. Just as it was looking like this was going to be a hard fought draw for both teams, Marist's Aniela Jensen broke into the penalty area and was bought down. Michaela Boxall made no mistake with the penalty and secured a 2-1 win for Palmerston North Marist and brings them and Wellington United within 2 points of Upper Hutt City in the league.
|Caitlin Hendry The JourneyFan|
Not long into the second half we were treated to special throw-in from Upper Hutt's fabulously named Esprit Cecile Lee-Fairbrother. She had apparently been doing this in training and Katie Barrott jokingly offered her $10 to do it in the game, thinking her money would be safe. It wasn't and it's easier to show you in these photos from Rosa Stewart (Rosa Posa Photography) than describe it!
|The Esprit Cecile Lee-Fairbrother throw in Photos Rosa Stewart (Roas Posa Photos)|
It took Upper Hutt until the 10th minute of the second half to level up the scores, when Becky Stewart, a veteran in this team at the age of 17, hit a cracking shot from the edge of the area, which gave Petone's keeper no chance. 10 minutes later they were ahead when Dani Turton scored. The game started to open up as both teams chased a winner, chances were missed and it was Petone who eventually took one with about 3 minutes left. Upper Hutt City kept pushing and won a corner, in the melee that followed a Petone defender had put her hands up when the ball came towards her, giving the ref an easy decision to make. Substitute Katie Barrott, who admitted later that she was terrified, stepped up and slotted it coolly into the bottom left hand corner. It proved to be the last kick of the game, giving Upper Hutt City a 3-2 win and left Petone feeling as sick as if they'd eaten an unskinned hedgehog.
So both games I saw this weekend were away wins and both decided by last minute penalties. Symmetries, irony's, coincidences - it's the beauty of football.