Saturday, 22 April 2017

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Team Wellington 7 AS Magenta 1
Oceania Champions League, Semi-Final, 2nd Leg
Sunday 16th April
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Attendance : 950 (according to Oceania)

Champions League Football in Wellington!!!! The last time I saw a Champions League game was a UEFA one when Chelsea drew 0-0 with the Spanish side Valencia. But this was the Oceania Champions League and it was probably the biggest competitive club game ever played in Wellington.

AS Magenta Fans The JourneyFan
New Caledonia champions AS Magenta were the visitors. AS Magenta were originally formed as Nickel Noumea Sports Association before changing their name to AS Magenta. They are the most successful club in New Caledonia winning the Super Ligue 10 times and the New Caledonian Cup 15 times. This was their sixth appearance in the Oceania Champions League, their best performance coming in 2005 when they lost 2-0 to Sydney FC in the final.


This season they had the advantage of playing all their games at home, as they hosted a group. They beat Samoa's Lupe o le Soaga 2-1, Central Sport of Tahiti 4-2 and the magnificently named Papua New Guinean team Madang Fox 5-0.  They then hosted the first leg of the semi final where they drew 2-2 with Team Wellington.

Team Wellington are in their third OCL campaign, they have made the final in the previous two years but lost both times to Auckland City. This season they traveled to Kone in New Caledonia where they beat hosts Hienghene Sport 3-1, Fiji's Ba 8-0 and the Kevin Fallon coached Cook Islanders, Puaikura 4-1.

This was the third meeting between Team Wellington and AS Magenta, Team Wellington with the one win (2-0) and the other game being a draw (2-2). In fact this was the 12th time AS Magenta had met Kiwi opposition and they had yet to record a win.

It was a frantic start to the game, In the first 10 minutes, Ben Harris went down in the box and claimed a penalty, (but the ref correctly ruled play on). AS Magenta collected 3 yellow cards and Joel Stevens put Team Wellington 1-0 up.

Ben Harris goes down in the box The JourneyFan

AS Magenta were playing quite aggressively and made some shocking tackles. Referee Norbert Hauata could have dished out several more cards but he did well, diffused a couple of potentially explosive situations and kept control of the game. Team Wellington were dominating possession so it was a surprise when AS Magenta's Joerisse Cexome broke through the middle and slotted the ball past Scott Basalaj in the 34th minute. While Team Wellington were dominating, AS Magenta were looking good and making a game of it, that is until the 43rd minute when Jean Brive Wadriako inexplicably raised his hands to stop the ball going over him when he was on the halfway line, already having a yellow card the ref had no option but to send him off. Two minutes later Team Wellington captain Bill Robertson headed in a goal to make it 2-1 and 4-3 on aggregate going into half time.

Bill Robertson celebrates his goal The JourneyFan

Five minutes into the second half Team Wellington leading scorer, Tom Jackson cut in from the right flank and left the AS Magenta defence as bewildered as a colour blind snooker player, as he made it 3-1 and effectively ended any slim chance AS Magenta may have had of victory.

If there is one thing this Team Wellington team like to do it's score goals, before today they had scored 76 goals in 24 games this season (and amazingly in two of those games they failed to score!), their last three home games have seen scores of 6-6, 5-1 & 7-2! and today was going to be no different. Andy Bevin netted in the 64th minute, a couple of minutes later sub, Nicholas Zambrano, got one, before Joel Stevens got a 2nd and then with almost the last kick of they game Josh Margetts curled a beautiful shot into the top corner to make it 7-1.

AS Magenta were effectively reduced to spectators, they had been a lot more defensive in the 2nd half being down to 10 men, but they still made a couple of bad challenges, especially sub Jelewed Pierrot whose late tackle on Joel Stevens was more akin to assault and earned him an early shower.

Tom Jackson makes it 3-1 (5-3 on agg) to Team Wellington The JourneyFan

So Team Wellington won 7-1 on the day and 9-3 on aggregate, while Auckland City completed a 4-0 aggregate win over Tahitian side Tefana to set up an all Kiwi OCL final for the third year in a row. This year the final will be played over two legs. So if you are in Auckland or Wellington get along to see Champions League Football at it's best

Auckland City v Team Wellington
1st Leg
Sunday 30th April
Kiwitea Street, Auckland
Kick Off 2pm

2nd Leg
Sunday 7th May
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Kick Off 1pm


FOR PHOTOS FROM THE GAME CLICK HERE



 


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A GOOD FRIDAY

Men's Capital Premier 
Lower Hutt City 0 North Wellington 0
&
  Men's Central League
Lower Hutt City 2 Stop Out 3
Fraser Park
Friday 16th April
Attendance :120

Lower Hutt City defend an indirect free kick against Stop Out The JourneyFan

A long long time ago, the Roman's got scared of a bloke born in a stable who wandered around doing things like turning water into wine and claiming he was the son of god, so they crucified him! 2000 or so years later we commemorate this by getting bunny rabbits to deliver chocolate eggs!!! Oh and all the shops are closed.......thankfully we have football!

After missing the first 2 weeks of the season due to being in Australia, I saw the chance to make up with it by attending a double header at the sports hub of Fraser Park. Before the start of the season I had made picks that both Lower Hutt City teams would be relegated from their division's. So I was somewhat surprised to see they were both at the top of their league's, albeit only 2 weeks into the season.

The first game was a Capital Premier game between Lower Hutt City who had yet to concede a goal and North Wellington whose 2 games so far had produced 16 goals! Add to this North Wellington's new coach was ex Lower Hutt City coach, Lloyd O'Keefe, and ex Phoenix defender, Ben Sigmund has signed for them this season, it looked as if it could be a tasty encounter.

Well Sigmund wasn't there, and while North Wellington physically were, mentally they were at home munching Easter Eggs. Lower Hutt City were better organised at the back but didn't really create much up front but probably can be forgiven a bit given that the majority of the squad are under 17. The most exciting thing to happen was after 18 minutes they had to change one of the balls as it had deflated, much like my pre-match optimism! It ended 0-0 and neither team really deserved a win.

Despite that I managed to get some photos

The 2nd game was another one that promised to be a tasty encounter, Lower Hutt City, 2nd in the league against Hutt Valley Rivals, Stop Out, 1st in the table and thankfully it turned out that way.

Abba about to make it 1-1 The JourneyFan
After a lot of to and froing in the first 10 minutes, just as Stop Out were starting to look like the dominant team, Lower Hutt opened the scoring through Sekou Diane in the 16th minute. Stop Out's tactic then seemed to be get the ball to Andrew Abba and in the 33rd minute it worked when he cut inside the penalty area and fired in a shot to make it 1 all.

10 minutes into the 2nd half Stop Out had the ball in Lower Hutt's net but Micky Malivuk was ruled to be offside. A couple of minutes later, Lower Hutt's keeper Marcel Kampman, who bizarrely had the number 91 on his back, slipped when tracking a back pass across the goal, with both Malivuk and Andrew Abba in front of him he quickly threw himself on the ball. This led to an indirect free kick in the penalty area and a yellow card.

Lower Hutt saw off the danger of the indirect free kick, but 2 minutes later found themselves 2-1 down when the on fire Andrew Abba easily rounded an advancing Kampman to tap it into the net. It looked as if Stop Out were starting to dominate the game, but Lower Hutt weren't having any of that and Jarred Cunniff evened up the scores 2 minutes later.

Last season I covered this fixture and it was a similar story, Stop Out dominating, but Lower Hutt fighting back. That game ended 2-2 and the dropped points for Stop Out cost them contributed to a disappointing 5th place finish. They must have learned from this as they laid siege to the Lower Hutt goal and were rewarded in the 75th minute, when after a free kick Malivuk made it 3-2. Kampman, in the Lower Hutt goal, wasn't too happy about this and after tugging at the shirt of Steven Gulley, ran at the referee to discuss his view of things. Of course under the new rules any player running at a referee to do this receives an automatic yellow card and as it was his 2nd he got to take an early shower.

Marcel Kampman is sent off much to the shock of a spectator The JourneyFan

As often happens in these situations, the team with 10 men play better, although they were unable to break down a dogged Stop Out, who went on to record only their 2nd win over Lower Hutt City since 2006.

I do need to revise my predictions of Lower Hutt City being relegated in both divisions, last season the Central League side took crucial points off title contenders and are the sort of team that could do that again. The 2nd team looks a well organised unit and should do enough to stay up depending on the number of injuries and suspensions that they pick up during the season

For Stop Out, Andrew Abba was everywhere and terrorised the Lower Hutt defence, once he and new signing (last seasons league golden boot winner), Jerram Tuck, can form a better understanding, they will be a pretty devastating strike force.

So the shops may have been shut but we had football and that made for a Good Friday!




Tuesday, 4 April 2017

AWAY DAYS


Melbourne Victory 0 Wellington Phoenix 3
A-League
Sunday 2nd April 2017
AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia
Attendance : 17,011

It was a big weekend in New Zealand football, the Wellington winter season kicked off, including the Men's Central League and the new Women's W-League. The summer season was finishing with the Grand Final in Auckland between Team Wellington and Auckland City, a re-match of last season's final. So where do I choose to go, well it's obvious isn't it? Wellington Phoenix playing away at Melbourne Victory!

This was my first proper away game, I have traveled to see the Phoenix play in Nelson and New Plymouth, but they were "home" games, this was the first time I'd seen them play at an opposing teams ground. It was also the first time I'd had to take an International flight for a what was considered a domestic league game.

On the face of it, Melbourne Victory wasn't the best choice for my first Phoenix away game. In the last game in Melbourne between the teams Victory dealt out a 6-1 thrashing. Overall the Phoenix's record against the Victory in Melbourne is appalling - 1 win in 14 league games.

But for some reason I quite like Victory, maybe it's the navy blue (ala Scotland) colour of the strip, the club song "Victory the Brave" (a re-working of Scotland the Brave) or the postal address of GPO Box 1967. They do have downsides, such as Kevin Muscat and they way they always seem to beat the Phoenix.

Phoenix fans in the Cherry Tree Pub
I got in touch with the Phoenix Melbourne Supporters group, who said they'd be meeting up in the Cherry Tree Pub in Cremone. It was all organised rather late, partly due to the main organiser of the group now being in based in Sydney. Still 4 of us turned up to what was a great little pub with the oddest of things - some decent Australian beer!

Puskas Statue
AAMI park is a proper football stadium, rectangle (is was called the Rectangle Stadium before AAMI came along and sponsored it), stands close to the pitch, and the away fans shoved into a corner! They even had a statue of footballing great Ferenc Puskas outside. The connection being that Puskas had coached South Melbourne to the National League title in 1991.

The week before the Phoenix did nothing to advance their claim that the A-League's failure to recognise the FIFA international window was very damaging to them, as despite having 7 players away on international duty, they hammered Newcastle Jets 5-0. This left the management team of Buckingham & Greenacre with the best problem - who to leave out of the starting XI. They went with minimal changes but this is the Phoenix, so despite having a great win and being on a high, I was expecting the worst. I needn't have worried. 

The Phoenix were playing well and bossing the game, Roly Bonevacia was outstanding and got 2 goals. Then we got to the famous "shirts off" (when the Phoenix are winning with 10 minutes to go the fans take their tops off) and the Melbourne based fans (there were considerably more than the 3 I met in the pub earlier!) obviously aren't used to this so there were only a few of us that did this, (and one of these was reluctant as he had been evicted when he had done the same thing in Brisbane). Then after chance after chance went begging, Smeltz finally got the ball over the line for the 3rd and we got to sing "cherrio, cherrio" and "we can see you sneaking out" at the departing Victory fans.
 
Victory fans before they started sneaking out


It was a great day out with a great result, but typically for the Phoenix it looks as if it could be too little too late (again). The last 2 weeks have shown how well the team can play and you need to ask why they haven't been doing so throughout the rest of the season. The players have all stepped up a gear only when it seems that they have contracts to play for.

There has been a high turnover of backroom staff over the last 2 years which points to serious issues throughout the club and the owners really need to take control of this and change the attitude and culture of the club if they have any ambition to be successful in this league.




Friday, 31 March 2017

W-LEAGUE SEASON PREVIEW


The Women's Central League is no more. Last season a independent player focused review was held and one of the greatest concerns highlighted was the Central League. While the top 3 of Wellington United, Upper Hutt City & Palmerston North Marist fought a very close battle that saw the league title only decided on the last game of the season, the gap between them and the rest was huge. The bottom 3 teams only managed single figure points totals, Valeron Wanderers withdrew partway through the season, 43% of the games had a goal difference of 4 or more and there were some ridiculous scores such as 19-0, 16-2, 11-0 & 10-0.

So the 2nd edition of the Women's Central League, which has been around since 2005 (the first edition ran from 1994-98), has been discontinued and replaced by the Capital Football W-League. The league will have 6 teams, 5 from the Capital Federation and 1 from the Central Federation. They are
  • Palmerston North Marist
  • Seatoun
  • Stop Out 
  • Upper Hutt City
  • Wairarapa United 
  • Wellington United
The league will include the following
  • Games will be played on Saturday's
  • There will be 3 rounds
  • 5 Substitutions (These are NOT rolling subs as has been rumoured)
  • No relegation until a review in 2019
Having no relegation has been introduced to bring some stability to the league, but it does seem a bit harsh on clubs in the premier league like Petone, Western Suburbs, BNU, Kapiti Coast United etc who have been putting efforts into developing players and aiming for the top level. There should at least be a playoff between the Premier League winners and the bottom placed W-League team. The trade off for the Premier division clubs seems to be the possibility that the league could be increased to 8 teams in 2019, but this is all dependent on the review.

Here is a look at the teams in the league and my predictions, which given it's a 6 team league are quite difficult to make!

PALMERSTON NORTH MARIST


Coach : Simon Lees
IN - Leah Gallie (Massey), Tilly James (New Plymouth GHS), Erin Carpenter (Stop Out), Anna Hinton (Moturoa)
OUT - Ella James (overseas), Gorgi van Lienen (Three Kings United)

Finished 3rd in the Central League last season, only losing to Wellington United (twice) and Upper Hutt City. Could be strengthened by the fact they are the only Central Federation club in this league.

Prediction : 3rd  

 SEATOUN



Coach : Gary Jenkins
IN - Tessa McPherson (Dunedin Technical), Danielle Calautti (Overseas)
OUT - 
The 4 time Central League winners, had a season to forget last year and will be looking to return to the form that won them the Central League in 2015. As well as new signings they have Kelsi Rutene back in the squad. Will be competitive but may struggle to keep up with the more youthful Wellington United & Upper Hutt City.


Prediction : 4th 


STOP OUT


Coach : Dennis Tapp
IN - Olivia Browne (Roslyn-Wakari), Heather Williams (Petone)
OUT - Erin Carpenter (Palmerston North Marist), Kassandra Clendon (Upper Hutt City), Anja Madsen (Island Bay United)

Struggled last season, used 28 players and only managed 2 wins. Have a new coach this season but will need to shore up their defence. Will likely be battling it out with Wairarapa United to avoid the wooden spoon.

Prediction : 5th 


UPPER HUTT CITY


Coach : Wendi Henderson
IN - Sarah Gregorius (Saitima, Japan), CJ Bott (Forrest Hill Milford Utd), Bex Jeffries (Petone), Kassandra Clendon (Stop Out)
OUT - Mikela Hunt, Emily Morison (Both Dunedin Technical)

Runners up in last season's Central League with the best defensive record conceding only 7 goals, also made it to the semi final of the National Women's Knockout Cup and won the Kelly Cup. Will be looking to go one better in the league and the cup. Will be helped massively by ex Football Fern, Sarah Gregorius, who has returned to the club where she started. Also adding current Football Fern CJ Bott to the squad will make up for the loss of Mikela Hunt and Emily Morison

Prediction : 1st


WAIRARAPA UNITED



Coach : Kim Nye
IN - 
OUT - 

Have spent the last couple of seasons storming through the lower grades culminating in winning Capital Premier last season on goal difference from Wellington United reserves.
Last season's coach and club benefactor, Phil Kenziley, has decamped to coach the men's team. In comes former Football Fern Kim Nye. It's a big step up into this league and will be interesting to see how they cope with it

Prediction : 6th


WELLINGTON UNITED 


Coach : Guillermo Schiltenwolf
IN - Briar Palmer (Forrest Hill Milford), Maia Green (Massey), Maya Hahn (Western Suburbs), Topaz Lloyd-Saunders (Petone)
OUT - Hope Gilchrist, Maika Ruyter-Hooley

Last season's Central League champions scored an impressive 67 goals on their way to the title. They have kept the squad together and scored a coup in adding the exciting Briar Palmer, who was the star of the Capital National League team. With Saturday games, it will be interesting to see how coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf juggles his role with his other job as Wellington Olympic men's central league assistant coach and if this will have any effect on the team.

Prediction : 2nd


ROUND 1 GAMES - Saturday 1st April

Wellington United v Stop Out
Newtown Park
KO 12pm
#WUvSO

Palmerston North Marist v Upper Hutt City
Memorial Park, Palmerston North
KO 2:30pm
#PNMvUHC

Wairarapa United v Seatoun
Masterton Memorial Turf
KO 3:15pm
#WAIvSEA




Tuesday, 28 March 2017

JUST ANOTHER GAME.....

Team Wellington 6 Waitakere United 6
Team Wellington won 3-2 on pens
Stirling Sports Premiership Semi-Final
Dave Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 26th March 2017 
Attendance : 300

12 goals...........6 goals each..... YES that's what happened! An epic epic game!
This is quite a hard blog to write because I don't really think I can do justice to the incredible game I witnessed, but I'll try.

When Team Wellington beat Tasman United 5-1 last week to confirm 2nd place and a home semi-final, it was widely assumed that the game would be played at Westpac Stadium as a curtain raiser to the Phoenix v Newcastle Jets A-League game. NZ Football even put out an advert stating this. 

However Team Wellington, quite rightly, pointed out that they had worked hard to secure 2nd spot and a home ground advantage, and the stadium wasn't their home. Their home is the boutique David Farrington Park, where their blazer clad fans are so close to the action they can easily discuss the finer points of the game with the opposition players.

The "Boutique" David Farrington Park The JourneyFan

NZF, somewhat surprisingly given their track record with this sort of thing, agreed. This led to the next issue, TV Coverage. With David Farrington Park being set into a hillside, it's not the easiest ground for TV setup's. However Sky were willing to work around this, something they hadn't been before, but it was a resource consent issue that thwarted them this time. So up stepped the Yellow Fever, and in particular, Patrick Barnes, who organised to live stream the game on the internet and what a game it was!

It went like this -

35 minutes - Pascal Reinhardt shoot's across goal, at the far post Team Wellington's Guillermo Moretti jumps to stop it and may have got to it before it crossed the line, but it was going in anyway so Reinhardt can have the goal 1-0 Waitakere.

45+1 Gulley storms through the penalty area and beats Strasser to make it 1-1 on the stroke of half time.

49 Pascal Reinhardt restores Waitakere's lead. Waitakere 2-1

65 Dan Morgan makes a solo run, the Team Wellington defence stands off him, so he thinks why not have a shot, he does and scores. Waitakere 3-1

Auckland City fan Nick Brown tweets that it's game over for Team Wellington and they'll be seeing Waitakere United in the final next weekend.

66 Team Wellington's Nicholas Zambrano breaks through, from possibly an offside position, but it isn't called and with the ball on the edge of the penalty area, Waitakere keeper Pirmin Strasser fails to deal with it, Zambrano rounds him and pulls one back for Team Wellington. Waitakere 3-2

75 From a corner, Team Wellington's Bill Robertson, under close attention from Julyan Collett, uses his experience well and wins a penalty. League golden boot Tom Jackson has no problem making it 3-3 from the spot.

78 Dan Morgan gets a second goal Waitakere 4-3

Dan Morgan celebrates his second goal, the Ball boy despairs The JourneyFan

80 A rash challenge from Guillermo Morretti earns a yellow card, it's his second so his season's over, whatever the result.
 
Morretti sees red, Butler shows him the way The JourneyFan

87 A long ball into the Waitakere United box sees a Team Wellington player end on the ground. The ref points to the spot, Waitakere players and bench are up in arms. Team Wellington players and fans look at the ground, realising it probably wasn't a penalty but they'll take it. Well, Tom Jackson does and it's now 4-4

Collett & Thelen question the ref's penalty call The JourneyFan

Full time 4-4

91 Dylan Stansfield makes a statement for Waitakere United with a goal straight away. Waitakere 5-4. 

Waikato football aficionado, The kiwicanary, watching via the live stream, tweets that he is half expecting an alien spaceship to pull up and watch!

111 It's back to all square as Team Wellington's Joel Steven's make's it 5-5

119 Joel Steven's shot sails over Strasser's head and Team Wellington have the lead for the first time in the game with only a minute to go. Team Wellington 6-5


120+1 We couldn't have a game like this not go to penalties, and Pascal Reinhardt makes sure it does completing his hat-trick in the last minute of added on time in extra time.

Final Score 6-6 aet
The highest ever scoring draw in the NZ National League

PENALTIES

Waitakere's Jake Butler takes the first, Scott Basalaj saves it with his legs

Scott Basalaj saves the 1st penalty The JourneyFan

Joel Stevens makes it 1-0 for Team Wellington
Scott Basalaj does it again this time saving with his chest from Dylan Stansfield
 
Scott Basalaj saves the 2nd penalty The JourneyFan


Now it's Pirmin Strasser's turn to save a shot from Andy Bevin, but he is adjudged to have moved off his line. Andy Bevin goes the other way with the re-take but so does Strasser who saves it! 

Pirmin Strasser saves the initial penalty from Andy Bevin The JourneyFan

Hat-trick hero Pascal Reinhardt makes no mistake with his to make it 1-1
Team Wellington's Leo Villa send's his penalty over the bar

Scott Basalaj has made 2 great saves already, law of averages says he can't make another can he? Law of averages is stupid! Basalaj saves again, this time from Waitakere's Stefan Thelen.

Basalaj dives to make his 3rd save of the shootout The JourneyFan
 Tom Jackson completes a personal hat-trick of penalties for the day - he was never going to miss 2-1 Team Wellington

Juylan Collett has to score to keep Waitakere United in it and he does 
 It's now into sudden death after Strasser saves Justin Gulley's effort

Scott Hillar puts the ball not only over the bar, but over the (2-storey) clubrooms and on to Darlington road
Niko Kirwan, who has been one of the best players on the park all day, steps up and cooly slots the winner for Team Wellington.
 
Team Wellington and fans celebrate The JourneyFan

So that was it, one of the most incredible games I have ever seen. Both teams would have been worthy winners, on the day the rub of the green went Team Wellington's way and they get to defend the National League trophy against the team they beat in the final last season, Auckland City. Which is on at QBE stadium on Sunday 2nd April kick off 4:35pm