Tuesday, 23 May 2017

THE BEAUTIFUL SYMMETRY OF FOOTBALL


Upper Hutt City 1 Palmerston North Marist 2
W-League, Saturday 20 May 2017
Maidstone Park
ATT : 50-60

Petone 2 Upper Hutt City 2nds 3
Women's Capital Premier, Sunday 21 May 2017
Petone Memorial
ATT 33 when I counted

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
Sunday's game was the Capital Premier game between Petone and Upper Hutt City 2nd's. Both teams were sitting in the lower half of the table with 2 wins each. Upper Hutt City has a very young team this season with most players being 15 or 16. Petone have a new coach in Curtis Jones and a few new players recruited from their reserve team and Stop Out, as well as Libby Boobyer, who was playing for Northern in last season's National League. It took just 6 minutes for Petone's Caitlin Hendry to open the scoring. Petone went on to boss the first half and was winning the midfield battle thanks to Libby Boobyer, who was easily their best player, quite why she has opted to play in the premier league rather than the W-League is a mystery, but it is obviously a coup for Petone.

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.


FOR PHOTOS FROM UPPER HUTT v PN MARIST CLICK HERE


FOR PHOTOS FROM PETONE v UPPER HUTT CLICK HERE




 

Monday, 15 May 2017

UNI FAIL TO STOP OUT IN CHATHAM CUP


VICTORIA UNIVERSITY 1 STOP OUT 2
Chatham Cup Round 1
Boyd Wilson Field, Wellington
Saturday 13th May, 2017
Attendance 30 odd

In the 89 previous Chatham Cup competitions these two teams have met eight times, dating back to 1948 (when Uni won 3-1). Somewhat surprisingly given the history of the two clubs it is University that have the upper hand winning five of the encounters to Stop Out's three, before this game.

Victoria University AFC was founded in 1943. They have always been a large club in terns of playing numbers and teams, the majority have been social teams made up of students from the University. They did compete in the Central League in three periods (1974, 1981-85 & 1990-99) and they won division 2 in 1998. 

Stop Out were founded in 1919 by the Reverend Thomas Fielden-Taylor of the Wellington City Mission, who wanted to provide a club for the children of Te Aro Flat, who would stay out late kicking a ball about. A Stop Out in those days was slang for troubled youth. They relocated to the Hutt Valley in the 1930's. Playing in the top Wellington league they were inaugural members of the National League in 1970, finishing 2nd in 1977 before relegation in 1980.

The two clubs were both in the top Wellington tier in the 1955, when they met in the Wellington Final of the Chatham Cup. University won 3-1 and went on to beat Kiwi United of Palmerston North 4-1 in the regional final, before falling to a 4-1 loss against Eastern Suburbs of Auckland in the North Island Final. It was the best performance ever for the club in the Chatham Cup.
 
Stop Out 1956 Chatham Cup Winners Photo Stop Out
Stop Out got their revenge on University the next season beating them 5-4, then going on to win the Wellington Final (4-1 v Western Suburbs), the regional final (7-3 v Masterton Athletic) the North Island Final (7-3 v Eastern Suburbs) and the Final, 4-1 over Shamrock of Christchurch, for the clubs only Chatham Cup win.

Victoria University are sitting in 4th place in Capital 1 this season, two divisions below Stop Out who are currently on top of the Central League. So this game had the potential for lots of goals, not that University coach Juan De Las Casas thought so, saying before the game they would win 2-1.

Had Stop Out fielded their normal starting XI then there probably would have been lots of goals, but they fielded what was effectively a reserve team with a couple of 1st team regulars added. This approach nearly cost them, Victoria University more than matched them in the first half and while they did get the ball in the Stop Out net, it was ruled out for offside. Stop Out could probably consider themselves lucky they weren't 1-0 down at half time. 

Stop Out make it 1-0 The JourneyFan

University were playing well, holding their shape and cutting off Stop Out attacks, they didn't really look like scoring though. Stop Out bought Steve Gulley on in the 65th minute and the game started to turn their way, 11 minutes later Scott Henderson put the ball into the back off the net and it looked as if extra time was off the table. University, however, had other ideas and a couple of minutes later Patrick Waller broke down the right wing and got the ball to Tom Parker who made it all square and extra time was back on.

Stop Out obviously weren't keen on extra time and pressed forward to find a winner. Jerram Tuck probably should have got it but was denied by an excellent save at his feet, from University keeper, Liam Playle. 

Stop Out's James Sharp Celebrates the winning goal The JourneyFan

Then in the 92nd minute, Stop Out's James Sharp rose to meet a cross and headed the ball into the net. It was a cruel blow for Victoria University who had done enough to at least warrant extra time. Although had it gone to that I think Stop Out's superior fitness would have won out.

So it wasn't a cup upset or classic game, photographer Michael Welsh (Dr Yomcat Shoots) summed it up best saying, "it wasn't a great game, but it wasn't bad either" and maybe Stop Out will think twice before fielding a weakened side in the next round.

FOR MY PHOTOS FROM THE GAME CLICK HERE

FOR DR YOMCAT'S PHOTOS CLICK HERE 





Thursday, 11 May 2017

OCEANIA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL

Auckland City 2 Team Wellington 0
(ACFC win 5-0 on aggregate) 
Oceania Champions League (2nd Leg)
David Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 7th May 2017
Attendance : 1000 

Auckland City OCL champions for the 7th time The JourneyFan
This game was probably the biggest ever competitive club game played in Wellington. Some may say the Phoenix in the A-League semi-final was bigger, but this game was the at federation level and the Champions League (the final no less). The winner of this game goes to the Club World Cup and as well as making a wad of cash for themselves, also partly fund New Zealand Football, Southern United & Canterbury United (.....oh and the other National League clubs) for the next season.

I did think about writing a report on the game, but as it was a "big" game the proper media were in attendance, and as they have deadlines and I don't (or they get paid and I don't) the reports were out there on the evening of the game and there is a good chance that if you are reading this you would have read at least one of those reports or had been at the game

So I was trying to think of a different angle. I started with the idea of talking to fans of both teams to find out what the game meant to them. As I was meeting my Auckland City pals in Wellington's premier rooftop bar, Dirty Little Secret, I put the idea to them and it was met with great enthusiasm, then one of them came back to the table with a couple of jugs of beer and several Singapore Slings and that was the end of that!

So instead here are some thoughts on the game and the teams involved

1. Ramon Tribulietx 

Ramon Tribulietx The JourneyFan
If Asterix creators Gonscinny and Uderzo had created a football coach, they probably wouldn't have called him Tribulitex, but they should have. Ramon has an outstanding knowledge of football, and an outstanding record, he has won 7 Oceania Champions Leagues, 4 premierships (IE the league for old school people), 2 grand finals and finished 3rd at the Club World Cup. He can adapt teams to suit the situation as he showed over the 2 legs of this game. He has essentially run a professional club in an amateur environment for the last 7 years. It would be great to see what he could do with players whose only job was to play football. He is without a doubt one of the best coaches we have ever had in New Zealand and it would be a real shame to lose him overseas.


2 The new format

This year saw a new format for the Champions League. The Group stage was split into 4 and each group was played in one location, unfortunately Oceania's contribution to the costs is nominal leaving the bulk of the costs to be carried by the host club (which is why we didn't get to see a group in Wellington). The 4 winners then play home and away in the Semi Finals and then the final. Oceania said this was to allow fans to get to see their teams and it works, 1000 turned up to this game, despite it being effectively over after Auckland City won 3-0 at home the week before.


3 Enaut Zubikarai


 Enaut Zubikarai with the OCL trophy and Golden Glove award The JourneyFan
Auckland City's outstanding goalkeeper, who has played over 100 games for Real Sociedad (A & B teams) conceded only one goal in the Oceania Champions League and deservedly won the Golden Glove award. In the Stirling Sports Premiership he conceded only 15 goals in 18 games (and four of those were in one match).

His shot stopping, positioning and distribution is excellent. Auckland City coaching staff love having him around as he is very professional and won't accept anything but the best, which has been rubbing off on his team mates.

With the Wellington Phoenix on the lookout for a keeper for next season they could do a lot worse than signing Zubikarai.

4 Team Wellington  

Team Wellington The JourneyFan
 Team Wellington have had a fantastic season under new coach, Jose Figuera, scoring an incredible 75 goals in 25 games in the Premiership and OCL. They defended their Grand Title and made it to their 3rd Oceania Champions League final in a row. Waitakere United used to be Auckland City's main rivals but have fallen away in recent years, Team Wellington have definitely stepped up and taken on the challenge and look to be setting themselves up to do it for many years to come.
 
5 Emilano Tade's goal

Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Argentinian Emilano Tade is a fantastic player. He was getting a lot of stick form the Yellow Fever Team Wellington fans, maybe because he used to play for Team Wellington or maybe because like Team Wellington's Ben Harris he tends to go to ground rather easily, whatever he answered the cat calls perfectly with a beautifully placed curling shot into the top corner.

6 The Fans - Team Wellington's Yellow Fever v Auckland City's 248 crew

Team Wellington's Yellow Fever fans The JourneyFan

The Yellow Fever are Wellington Phoenix fans, but several of them get themselves along to Team Wellington games which is great to see, especially when they turn up with flags and drums (although they really needed to hit it more than once during the game!) as they did on Sunday. However it was Auckland City's 248 crew that won the day on this one (OK it was helped by their team winning) but when they start singing they don't stop. Although a shout out needs to go to the 2 young girls in the front of the stand who tried to get some Team Wellington chants going in the 1st half.


So that's the Stirling Sports Premiership and Oceania Champions League over for another season, some players are transferring to winter clubs, some are going home to see families. Ramon Tribulietx is off contract at Auckland City and could be looking for a new job (hint hint Wellington Phoenix). It's been a great season and I'm already looking forward to the next one.  


FOR PHOTOS FROM THE GAME CLICK HERE


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

NORTHERN HILLS DERBY?


North Wellington 1 Tawa 1
Capital Premier Division
Alex Moore Park, Johnsonville
Saturday 6th May 2017
Attendance : about 100

At the end of this game I tweeted the score and called it the Northern Hills derby. Northern Hills is an initiative set up to provide a football pathway for players from the Northern Wellington area.It was set up by North Wellington Seniors & Juniors, Onslow Juniors, Onslow College FC & Newlands College FC and until now I was sure Tawa were part of it, as I thought I had seen their logo with the other clubs on some promotional material but when I went to look for it I couldn't find it or any reference to them in the Northern Hills setup, so maybe I was just imaging it. 

Whatever the case this game was between two senior neighbouring clubs. When I played for North Wellington, Tawa were always considered our main rivals (North Wellington had absorbed Newlands United by this stage). I have never been sure if the rivalry was fully reciprocated as Tawa are more likely to consider their biggest rivals the club that they broke away from, Western Suburbs (who had changed their name to Porirua United hence the breakaway). 

Karl Romijn The JourneyFan
There were the ingredients for a local derby, North Wellington captain Karl Romijn, comes from a family whose name is synonymous with Tawa AFC, and he had played for them in the Central League until switching to North Wellington last season. While Tawa's Jake Shugg & Ollie Story are from families with long associations with North Wellington (In fact Ollie Story's dad was playing in the game after for a North Wellington masters team!)

Both clubs are reasonably similar as well, both are connected to large junior clubs, and while both teams have spent time in the top division of the Central League, neither have really set the football world alight. Tawa has the edge in terms of honours with five league titles to North Wellington's two. Both clubs are of a similar age, despite Tawa claiming in their program last year to be one of the oldest clubs in Wellington, they are in fact the 8th youngest (there are 14 existing clubs older than them), being formed in 1971, while North Wellington were formed a year later in 1972.

In terms of head to head record, this was the 47th meeting between the clubs first teams in the league and Chatham Cup. Tawa have won 19, North Wellington 14 and 13 had ended in a draw. 

Last season the two clubs found themselves in the same division for the first time in 10 years. Tawa who had been relegated from Central League the season before struggled and only survived being relegated thanks to having a goal difference of 4 less than Miramar Rangers Reserves. North Wellington meanwhile had stormed through Capital 1 in 2015 scoring 70 goals and for a while looked as if they would do the same in Capital Premier last season, but a horror spell where they conceded 20 goals in just 4 games saw them finish in 4th place. This season with the addition of ex Wellington Phoenix and All White defender, Ben Sigmund and new coach Lloyd O'Keefe, they were being picked as a contender for the league title this season. As it was Ben Sigmund was out of action with a groin strain and both teams have had mixed results to start the season and sat mid table.

The game then was unsurprisingly tight as both teams sussed each other out and while Tawa dominated the territory in the first half hour, they didn't do too much with it. North Wellington did get the ball in the net after 30 minutes but it was ruled offside. North Wellington perked up after this and were starting to look the slightly stronger team going into half time. 

Tawa's Nick Johnston makes it 1-0 The JourneyFan
It was 11 minutes into the 2nd half when against the run of play, Tawa's Nick Johnston rose to meet a cross and headed Tawa in front. They held that lead for the next 20 minutes but North Wellington's pressure eventually took its toll and paid off when Sam Gillespie rounded Tawa's player-coach, goalkeeper Lance Ramaekers,  to slot home the equaliser for North Wellington. Both teams had chances to win it but some great saves from both Ramaekers and North Wellington's Stuart Dixon kept the scores even so the game end 1-1 which was a fair result. 

Sam Gillespie (NW) takes the ball around Tawa's Lance Ramaekers for the equaliser The JourneyFan
This was the second time I have seen both these teams this season, I have been disappointed with North Wellington, as after last season I was expecting more from them. Losing Japanese striker Shohei Wantanbe obviously hasn't helped, but that's really no excuse for some poor quality passing and balls being played to no one in particular. Maybe when Siggy returns in the next couple of weeks it may change as I can't see him standing for that sort of play. 

I had picked Tawa as favourities to be relegated this season but they seem to be a decent enough team and as long as they avoid many injuries and suspensions they should be a solid mid-table team.




Thursday, 27 April 2017

DERBY CLASH


Island Bay United 2 Brooklyn Northern United 4
Women's Capital Premier Division
Wakefield Park, Wellington
Sunday 23rd April, 2017
Attendance : 30ish

It was a stunningly beautiful sunny day and I'm at a park where despite this it's still windy and a bit chilly - yes I was at Wakefield Park! I was there for a derby game between two clubs that once were so close in proximity they shared the same club rooms. They no longer share the Island Bay club rooms but they are still pretty close, as the BNU official twitter account noted on the morning of the game, that they would be seeing many familiar faces at the game today.

Lou Newman (IBU) & Tessa Finnigan (BNU) The JourneyFan

The Island Bay United "Sharkettes" are newcomers in the Capital Premier division, winning promotion after an unbeaten season last year. They have new coaches this season and also several new players and so far have managed one win in their first three games.

BNU finished sixth in the table last season, but have had a great start to the season and sat top of the table with three wins from three games, scoring 13 and conceding only one going into this game.

I arrived just after kick off and just at the time Island Bay United's Sarah Cook put the ball in the net to make it 1-0. 4 minutes later BNU's Sophie Wilkinson evened up the scores when she lobbed the ball over the keeper into the goal.

The game was closely contested and settled in the middle of the park with both teams playing well but neither really creating many chances and there wasn't much of note to write about in the first half until just before half time. 

Charlotte Wood (IBU) takes out Bianca Heffernan (BNU) The JourneyFan
BNU's Bianca Heffernan broke through towards goal, seeing the keeper, Charlotte Wood, advancing she pushed the ball wide to go around her, and then got clattered by Wood who ran straight into her. The ref blew for a penalty, and after the injuries were attended to (and Heffernan left the field), amazingly only showed a yellow card to the keeper. He later explained that  as the ball was going away from goal it wasn't a direct goal scoring opportunity, so under the new rules only a yellow card was shown. He had obviously forgotten about the dangerous play rule that should have applied as Wood was nowhere near the ball when she took out Heffernan and should have been shown a straight red.

BNU scored the resulting penalty and went into the break 2-1 up. Whether it was the reaction to the penalty incident or just a good talk from coaches Brian Blellock & Sandy Aitchison at half time, BNU came out looking the better team and took only 2 minutes to increase their lead when Sophie Wilkinson sent a chip into the top of the goal. 10 minutes later she had her hat-trick and the game looked sewn up. 

Sophie Wilkinson (BNU) makes it 3-1 The JourneyFan
 
Island Bay United did well in the middle of the park but weren't able to create anything much up front, missing the attacking prowess of last season's top scorer Carena Oosterbann.They did get another goal with 8 minutes left on the clock, Anja Madsen, who was playing Central League with Stop Out last season, scored direct from a corner.

Anja Madsen (IBU) celebrates her goal The JourneyFan

This gave the Sharkette's a bit of a boost and they pushed forward more to try and get another but the miserly BNU defence dealt with the threats and saw out the game 4-2 and remain unbeaten on top of the table.



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

GOALS, GOALS, GOALS

Wellington United 8 Wairarapa United 0
Capital Football W-League
Saturday 22nd April, 2017
Newtown Park, Wellington
Attendance : around 50 or so

Micky Robertson scores past Wairarapa's Emma Kruzcona The JourneyFan
For my first Women's game of the season, I decided to check out the new W-League and the game between last season's Central League Champions, Wellington United "Diamonds" and the 2016 Capital Premier Champions, Wairarapa United.

Wellington United has a rich pedigree in NZ football tracing its origins back to the Diamond club formed in 1893 and winning the Men's National League 3 times. Until recent times they haven't been as strong on the Women's side. However one of their founder clubs, Hungaria, can lay claim to being one of the first Women's club in the country, when they set up a team in 1971. They encouraged other clubs to do the same and in 1972 Hungaria won a 5 team league that included teams from Naenae, Upper Hutt, Wainuiomata and the Palmerston North Saints. This league was unofficial as the Wellington FA seemed to be unsure what to do about the women's game, but with support from local football identity, Pat Kelly (whom the Kelly Cup is named after) and referee Derek Vosser, who volunteered his services, the Wellington FA set up an official women's league in 1973. In the last few seasons Wellington United have been concentrating on developing young talent and it is starting to pay off with their Central League title last season and 2 players selected for the NZ U17 squad that went to the World Cup in Jordan.

Chantel Leban (Rapa) and Asha Strom (WU)
The Wairarapa has always been a bit of a footballing backwater, in a region dominated by rugby, football let alone Women's football hasn't had much of a look in. Masterton United competed in the first few seasons of the Wellington league and the only other participation came from a social Carterton side in the mid 80's. That was until Wairarapa United came along and joined the Central League in 1996. Some shrewd recruiting, helped by luring Football Fern, Wendi Henderson over the hill as player-coach, created a competitive team, who reached it's peak in 2000-01 seasons when they won the Wellington competition and finished runners up twice in the National Knock Out Cup. 

The club then concentrated more on the men's side of the club but recently the women's team was revived and has spent the last couple of seasons rising through the grade's and are now in the W-League.

For Wairarapa it has been a baptism of fire, they started with a 3-1 loss to Seatoun, which would have given them hope, but then they were hammered 9-0 by Palmerston North Marist and had the ignominy of a 20-0 defeat to Upper Hutt City in the Kelly Cup (although I believe that this was mainly a second string side). Now they were up against Wellington United who had started the season with a 12-0 thumping of Stop Out and then a 2-0 win over Seatoun.

The TAB don't take odds on this league but if they did Wellington United would have been at $1.01. It took just 16 minutes for Briar Palmer to net the first and then a steady procession of goals from captain Micky Robertson, who completed her hat-trick before half time.

The second half was more of the same. The impressive youngster, Maya Hahn, signed in the summer from Western Suburbs, got one and also hit the post with a shot shortly after that. Wellington United then introduced Dani Ohlsson for her debut for the 1st team. Dani is a player that knows how to score goals, she scored 27 in 13 appearances (including six hat-tricks) for the Wellington United capital premier team last season and it didn't take her long to do the same here getting two in seven minutes. Micky Robertson finished of the game with another goal taking her personal tally for Wellington United Diamonds to an astounding 57 goals in 63 league appearances.
 
Annie Jones (Rapa) & Dani Ohlsson (WU) The JourneyFan

 Wairarapa United, who are coached by 15 cap Football Fern, Kim Nye, weren't a bad team, they just were nowhere near the standard of Wellington United and they will be in for a long season battling it out with Stop Out for the wooden spoon. Although as this league has no relegation, who finishes off the bottom is really just a matter of pride. It's hard to see how spending the next 2 seasons getting hammered by 8 or 9 goals a game will do much to develop players. 

I did take some photo's but not really enough to publish besides the ones above.  

So instead of mine here is a link to Dr Yomcat Shoot's photo's from the game





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