Wednesday, 11 January 2017

CHARITABLE OFFERINGS

Team Wellington 1 Auckland City 3
Stirling Sports Premiership \ Charity Cup
Dave Farrington Park, Wellington
Sunday 8th January 2017 
Att : 200 or so

Auckland City's Angel Berlanga with the Charity Cup The JourneyFan
The Charity Cup started life in 1978 as the Challenge Trophy. Played to signal the start of a new season, it was contested between the League Champions and the Chatham Cup Winners. Mt Wellington won it three times, Wellington United and Manurewa twice, while Gisborne City and North Shore United had one win apiece before it was discontinued in 1988. The NZ Soccer Annual of 1988 said "......(the Challenge Trophy) continues to fail to grasp the imagination of the soccer public"

There was also the odd aside of the confusingly named NZFA Challenge Trophy. In 1987 the NZFA proposed plans to change the Chatham Cup format from a knockout competition to a challenge format not dissimilar to rugby's Ranfurly Shield. Thankfully the proposal was voted down (almost unanimously) at the NZFA AGM. However the powers that be in the NZFA felt committed to the idea so they substituted the Chatham Cup with a new trophy which they came up with the unimaginative name of the NZFA Challenge Trophy.

North Shore United, as the Chatham Cup holders were given the trophy and each home game they played was a defence. If they won or drew they retained the trophy, if they lost then it was the challengers who would defend the next time they played at home. The winner of each match would also receive $1000, there would be a sponsor for the tournament, North Shore United as holders would also play challenge games against the 1986 winners of the regional leagues and the NZFA would ensure there was the necessary publicity to generate significant interest in the games.

The sponsorship, regional games and promised publicity didn't eventuate. North Shore United defended the trophy 5 times before Wellington United (twice), Manawatu United and Christchurch United held it and the NZFA were out of pocket by $9000. The NZ Soccer Annual said "One suspects that the NZFA would be happy for their brainchild to slip quickly into obscurity"
 
Team Wellington's Niko Kirwan beats ACFC's Harry Edge for a header The JourneyFan
In 2010 when NZF (as the NZFA were now known) secured sponsorship from ASB Bank. They reintroduced the original Challenge Trophy, but called it the Charity Cup and the contestants were to be the League Champions and the best placed New Zealand team in the Oceania Champions League (or 2nd best if the best placed were the league champions)
This year it wasn't played pre-season as usual, scheduling issues with the Club World Cup and the earlier start of the Oceania Champions League been given as reasons. So instead it was doubled up with today's #SSPremiership game.

Like the original Challenge Trophy it has been a competition that has failed to grasp the imagination of the football public. After all today's game was between last season's finalists, who were also currently 1st (Team Wellington) and 2nd (Auckland City) in the league. Team Wellington's coach, Jose Figuera, was Auckland City's youth team coach last season. Ex Auckland City players, Nicholas Zambrano and new signing Nathaniel Haliemarian were in the Team Wellington squad. While Auckland City's Emilano Tade started his kiwi career at Team Wellington. It was not a game that needed the addition of an unloved cup to appeal to the masses (well OK the 200 that turned up).

As it was Team Wellington took the charity bit of the cup name to heart and were very charitable gifting the first goal to Auckland City when captain Bill Robertson hit a wayward back pass that eluded keeper Scott Basalaj and rebounded off the post into the path of Ryan De Vries for a simple tap in.

Ryan De Vries makes it 1-0 to Auckland City The JourneyFan
Four minutes later it looked as if we could have a game on our hands when Auckland City's Fabrizo Tavano, stopped Team Wellington's Andy Bevin from shooting by pulling his shirt and earning himself a red card. But all that happened was that Auckland City reverted to one up front and relied on their miserly defence, which had only conceded two goals in nine games so far this season, and the counter attacking speed of Ryan De Vries and Micah Lea'Alafa.

Team Wellington, who were badly missing Tom Jackson and Ben Harris up front, had more of the ball and territorial possession but were unable to break down Auckland City's solid defence and keeper Enaut Zubikarai was rarely troubled.

Auckland City were missing Joao Moriera, Daewoo Kim, Takuya Iwata & Clayton Lewis for various reasons but it never showed as they put in a very professional, if unspectacular, performance. They soaked up the Team Wellington pressure and relied on the counter attack, which paid off for them in the 67th minute when Tade made it 2-0.

Shortly after this Team Wellington introduced Ben Harris to the game and in his short time on the field he shouted at Haleimarian (amongst others) a lot, talked himself into a yellow card (and was almost a red), and scored a goal to bring the score back to 2-1 with a couple of minutes left. It was a significant contribution and one that left you questioning why Team Wellington didn't bring him on earlier. But it was Auckland City's day and from the restart they launched an attack which resulted in Darren White being fouled in the penalty area and Tade had no problem converting from the spot, to make the final score 3-1.

Emilano Tade's penalty sends Team Wellington's Scott Basalaj the wrong way The JourneyFan

So Auckland City win the Charity Cup for the 2nd time in a row (the first club to do this) and the 4th time overall, but more importantly for them the result takes them back to the top of the table, 2 points ahead of Team Wellington with a game in hand.
 

FOR PHOTOS FROM THE GAME CLICK HERE


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Mid season report & Round 10 preview


Happy New Year!

The biggest football news over the Christmas break was the appointment of a solicitors firm, Buckingham & Greenacre, as coaches of the Wellington Phoenix in the A-League.

But never mind that, the #SSPremiership is back! I'm excited, and so is Tasman United's Paul Ifill – he was so keen to get back to training that he turned up at Wellington airport for his flight to Nelson a day early!

This week's preview is slightly different with a brief look back at how each teams season has gone so far as well

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SOUTHERN UNITED v HAMILTON WANDERERS
Saturday 7th January, Peter Johnstone Park, Mosgiel, Dunedin, 2pm

Southern United (10th, 4pts) C+, improving but could do better

In their 12 years in the league, Southern United (previously Otago United), have only finished outside the bottom 2 on 3 occasions and they quickly assumed their traditional position at the foot of the table. However Irish coach Paul O'Reilly has called on 6 of his countrymen and reports have been of improved performances. They even managed their first win in 374 days when they beat Tasman United 3-1 in Invercargill in the last round before the break.

Best Game : The 3-1 win over Tasman United
The Big Question : Why are they still in the league?
Prediction for rest of season : Might manage a couple of draws and maybe another win but that's about it


Hamilton Wanderers (8th, 12pts) B-, need more consistency 

One of the league newbie's, made up of mainly Northern League players from Wanderers & Chatham Cup winners Birkenhead United. Have had a couple of big wins, including 4-0 over Eastern Suburbs, but have struggled for consistency. Bright spot was their youth side winning the National Youth League at the first time of asking.

Best Game : The epic 6-4 victory over Hawke's Bay United
The Big Question : Will they manage to get 2 wins in a row
Prediction for rest of season : Will get a couple more surprise results but their inconsistency will see them finish around 8th

Match Pick : Southern United 1 Hamilton Wanderers 3

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TEAM WELLINGTON v AUCKLAND CITY
Sunday 8th January, Dave Farrington Park, Wellington, 2pm
 
The "grandstand" at Dave Farrington Park The JourneyFan
 Team Wellington (1st, 17pts) A, title defence going to plan

With no pre season games, the defending champions were slow out of the starting gate and found themselves last after 2 rounds, but since then they have been unbeaten and are the league's top scorers with 21 goals.

Best Game : The 5-2 demolition of Wanderers at Newtown Park, Wanderers were lucky they stopped at 5!
The Big Question : Will Ben Harris manage to get through the season without picking up a red card?
Prediction for rest of season : Will definitely be in a top 4 spot and in the finals come the end of the season


Auckland City (2nd, 16pts) B, need to concentrate more

For most teams being 2nd at the halfway point of the league, 1 point behind the leader, with 1 game in hand and having only conceded 2 goals would be an A+ performance. But Auckland City aren't most teams, distracted by the Club World Cup in Japan (where they lost 2-1 to Japanese Champions and eventual runners up Kashima Antlers) they slipped up and lost 2 games for the first time since the 2014-15 season.

Best Game : The 4-0 thrashing of Team Wellington in the re-match of last season's grand final
The Big Question : Had I written this last week it would have been how long will Ramon be staying as he had been linked with the Bignix job, but now that's sorted the question is -
Will they get their trophy back?
Prediction for rest of season : Without the distraction of the Club World Cup they will hit form and again be the team to beat

Match Fact : Auckland City haven't won at Team Wellington 
since November 2014

Match Pick : Team Wellington 1 Auckland City 4

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EASTERN SUBURBS v WELLINGTON PHOENIX U20
Sunday 8th January, Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland, 2pm

Eastern Suburbs Sam Burfoot makes a yellow card challenge The JourneyFan
Eastern Suburbs (3rd, 16pts) A-, room for improvement

The big spending newcomers, although this is their 2nd spell in the National League and they did win it in 1971, have had a solid if unspectacular 1st half of the season. They haven't been outside the top 4 all season, which in such a close league is impressive, especially when there is a feeling that they haven't quite hit their peak potential yet.

Best Game : Still to come
The Big Question : Will coach Malcolm McPherson be able to keep his big players ego's in check long enough to secure the title?
Prediction for rest of season : Will not drop outside the top 4, but will come up short in the finals


Wellington Phoenix U20 (4th, 14pts) A+, excellent

The kids are alright!!!
 At last, the Weenix are actually competitive, the kids are a year older, have all bulked up a bit, don't get pushed of the ball like they used to, the sports science work the Phoenix are doing seems to be paying off.
They have notched up wins over both of last seasons grand finalists and showed great character to snatch a 2-2 draw with Waitakere United, when they were 2-0 down in the 88th minute.

Best Game : The 2-1 derby win over Team Wellington
The Big Question : Can they maintain their progress?
Prediction for rest of season : Top 4 finish, although they can't qualify for the finals as they are the reserve team of A-League Wellington Phoenix

Match Pick : Eastern Suburbs 2 Wellington Phoenix 2

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WAITAKERE UNITED v HAWKE'S BAY UNITED
Sunday 8th January, Trusts Arena, Auckland, 2pm


Waitakere United (5th, 14pts) B, on the right track

The 5 times champions were not really rated at the beginning of the season, but after a mixed start, Chris Millich's team seem to be coming right. Could be a dark horse to make the finals.

Best Game : Their 1-0 win over Auckland City in the Super City Derby, their 1st win in the last 10 meetings of the clubs
The Big Question : Will the sleeping giant finally awake?
Prediction for rest of season : The results will still be mixed but potentially a 5th place finish, with the Weenix above them allowing them into the finals


Hawke's Bay United (7th, 13pts) C, disappointing so far

They have the 2nd most prolific strike force in the league with 18 goals but have struggled with consistency and a leaky defence. They have made the finals in the previous 2 season's but on this season's form will struggle to do so again this time

Best Game : From a neutral point of view it was the 6-4 loss to Wanderers, but for Hawke's Bay United it is probably their 3-1 win over Waitakere United
The Big Question : Will the forwards be able to score more goals than their defence will concede?
Prediction for rest of season : More of the same, high scoring games where they end up on the losing side and finish about where they are now

Match Fact : In their 15 previous visits to Waitakere, Hawke's Bay have recorded just the solitary win, 2-1 in 2010-11

Match Pick :Waitakere United 3 Hawke's Bay United 2


TASMAN UNITED v CANTERBURY UNITED
Sunday 8th January, Trafalgar Park, Nelson, 4.35pm on SKY TV


Tasman United (9th, 5pts) C, shows potential but failing to deliver

Tasman have played some nice football and apart from a 4-0 loss to Auckland, their losses have only been by 1 or 2 goals, although their 24 goals conceded are the most of any in the league. Paul Ifill has been moved to center back to try and stop this.

Best Game : 3-2 away to Wanderers. The only win they have recorded so far
The Big Question : Can they avoid the wooden spoon?
Prediction for rest of season : Could possibly pick up 1 or 2 wins but will be battling with Southern United to avoid the wooden spoon
 
Canterbury United (6th,13pts) B- not setting the world on fire

They were the last team to be beaten in the league, but despite this they only have 3 wins and lack consistency and that ability to kill games off.

Best Game : 3-3 draw at Team Wellington, coming back to grab a draw with a late goal after being down to 10 men for the second half.
The Big Question : Will Aaron Clapham score more than 1 goal from open play?
The leagues joint top scorer has 8 goals, 6 from the penalty spot and 1 from a free kick!
Prediction for rest of season : More of the same, hard to beat but won't threaten a top 4 finish

Match Pick : Tasman United 2 Canterbury United 1

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Highlights from 2016

So this weeks post was going to be a write up on the Team Wellington v Canterbury United game which ended 3-3, but having to leave at half time when it was only 2-1 and production issues with the photos has changed that plan.So I thought I'd do a totally self indulgent look at my highlights of the year instead

Highlight Of The Year


Receiving my award from sponsor Kyocera & NZFMA's Simon Kay Photo Shane Wenzlick
Well I can't go past winning Website of The year at the NZ Football Media awards. I was and still am quite stunned by this. I only entered after some encouragement from Enzo Giordani from In the back of the net. When I did I joked that I was only doing it to give him some competition! But somehow I went and won it! I would feel bad, but then he is a Roma fan.........oh and he also deservedly won the Internet \ Community Writer of the Year award (which I was also a finalist in).

I was just thrilled to be nominated and that I got to attend the awards presentation at the glitzy NZ Football 125th anniversary dinner in Auckland, thanks to Simon Kay and the NZ Football Media Association. 

Bruce Holloway, who won publication of the year for his excellent National League Diaries did a good write up on the night, which included this pretty apt description of me -

"Website of the year went to Dangerous Dave Webster, who has metamorphosed from a one-time drunken traveling All White fan into a multi-media phenomenon with his JourneyFan website"

the judges said
 “......Dave Webster's JourneyFan site edged it with his well combined pictures and stories from a wide variety of men's and women's matches, plus his opinions on other aspects of the game, all the while displaying considerable knowledge and wit.”

I'd just like to say thanks to all those that have supported the site, whether retweeting, sharing or just reading it and that have given me feedback and encouragement. I recently hit 35 000 page views an average of around 330 per post which is fantastic. I never really expected much at all when I started. What really surprises me are how many likes different posts get.

My highest viewed post is Playoff Pandemonium the Capital 1 playoff between Wainuiomata and Naenae, which got a massive 1500 page views. 

Next highest are two of my favourites, both with around 600 page views,  Programmable a review of the Central Region programs I picked up over the year and A Capital Culture my interview with the co-coaches of the Capital Women's team.

ROAD TRIPS

North Wellington's Kieran Cripps scores a diving header in the Chatham Cup game against PN Marist

With a name like the JourneyFan (which has absolutely nothing to do with the 1980's band) I did a fair amount of Journeying around the country to watch football. In all I saw 65 games (well it was actually 1 more than that, but I only saw 1 half of 2 games and being Scottish I have a natural aversion to that number between 65 and 67 for some odd reason!) and covered enough distance that theoretically I could have driven from Wellington to Adelaide and back.

Yellow Fever in Sprig & Fern Nelson
It started with the ASB Premiership final games in Napier and Auckland and finished with a my 1st Yellow Fever tour to Nelson, which I didn't write about but can sum up like this, it rained, beer was good, drank lots, laughed a lot, oh and watched some football too.

The Chatham Cup accounted for the other road trips from the NZ Football alternative media meet up in the first round in Taupo to a Memorial weekend (Masterton & Palmerston North – both grounds are named Memorial Park) and then the final, which included the epic side trip to see Waiheke United 
 

PHOTOS

When I started the website I looked for pictures on the web, but soon realised that the best thing to do was take my own. So I have been and really been enjoying it.
Whether its the buzz of being pitch-side (as it's the closest I'll ever get to playing again) or when the actual players like or comment on the photos, or when clubs like your photos enough they ask if they can buy them I'm not really sure. But it's heaps of fun and another highlight has been the small photographic football community, from Michael Welsh (Dr Yomcat Shoots) gifting me a long lens he no longer used the first time I met him, to the likes of Grant Stantiall lending me his expensive equipment, Cam Macintosh (PhotoMac) and Enzo happily giving advice and encouragement it's been brilliant.

Olympic players celebrating their Central League title with Apollon founding members (1953) Con & Cris Palamedis. Apollon became Christian Youth FC before renaming as Wellington Olympic in 1983

GAME OF THE YEAR


The games that stood out for me this year included

  • The best however was the Chatham Cup Final between Birkenhead United and Waitakere City. A decent crowd creating a great atmosphere, a good game that looked as if it was cruising for a Birkenhead win until Waitakere got back into it and forced extra time, before Birko managed to become the 42nd club to win the 93 year old trophy
The Birko "Massive" Awesome crowd at the Chatham Cup Final

TEAM OF THE YEAR


It could have been Wellington Olympic with their 3rd Central League title in a very close league, but it has to go to Capital Football Women's team. 2015 had seen the worst ever performance by a Wellington Women's team at the National Level. 2016 saw new co-coaches in Emma Evans and Sam Morrissey and the addition of Briar Palmer, back from spells in Auckland and Australia, but the rest of the squad essentially the same. 

They put in some terrific team performances, playing nice attractive football and made it to the final where they went down to a very good Canterbury United Pride team (who won their 3rd title in 4 years). While obviously losing the final is disappointing, Capital can be extremely proud about their season and how they performed and hopefully will go one better next season.

Capital celebrate as they win the penalty shootout that gets them into the final

So there you have my year in football, but it will only be a few days break before its back into it in January. With football trips to Nelson, Palmerston North & Australia already planned and Russia (Confederations Cup) and possibly Argentina to dream about (unless someone wants to sponsor me to go - go on you know you want to :-)) it should be another good year for watching football


Friday, 16 December 2016

Stirling Sport Premiership Round 9 Preview

Back to a full round this week and with only 6 points separating the top 8 it's tighter than an Italian tenor's trousers! 
It's also the last round of games this year as the teams break for Christmas and return on the 8th January

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Waitakere had last weekend off, while the Phoenix had a convincing 4-0 win over Hamilton Wanderers. The Phoenix will be bolstered by the senior players being in town for the A-League game against Western Sydney Wanderers at Mt Smart on Sunday

                              League Position        Waitakere United 5th Weenix 6th
                              Last season              Waitakere United 4 Weenix 1
                              Pick                           Waitakere United 2 Weenix 3                                 
Stat Chat
Waitakere United have scored 10 goals in their 2 home games against the Weenix
                             
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The bottom of the table clash, Southern still looking for their first win in over a year. Tasman United keep getting closer but not quite, losing most of their games by only 1 or 2 goals

                     League Position       Southern United 10th Tasman United 9th
                     Last season             1st game between these teams
                     Pick                          Southern 1 Tasman 3                               

Stat Chat 
Tasman United's top scorer, Alex Risdale, has scored 4 goals this season - the same number as the entire Southern United team!
                     
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TEAM WELLINGTON v CANTERBURY UNITED
Sunday 18th December, Dave Farrington Park, Wellington, 2pm
Andre De Jong (Canterbury Utd), The JourneyFan
This game last season was the first I took pictures at (with a decent camera) with no real idea what I was doing I got a couple of decent shots, like the one above of Andre De Jong just as he rolled his ankle. 
The game ended 2-2 with Team Wellington scoring a last minute penalty

                  League Position            Team Wellington 1st Canterbury United 7th
                  Last season                   Team Wellington 2 Canterbury United 2
                  Pick                               Team Wellington 2 Canterbury United 0

                                                        Stat Chat
Canterbury United have only won twice against Team Wellington in Wellington since 2005

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A better header than I had pinched from the Eastern Suburbs Facebook page
Sunday 18th December, Bill McKinlay Park, Auckland, 2pm

The other Auckland Derby - not sure what its nickname is yet
Should be a good one though. Auckland City are just back from the Club World Cup where the lost in the last minute to Kashima Antlers, who have gone on to the final and will play Real Madrid. Eastern Suburbs Tim Payne, Sam Burfoot & Mario Illich are all ex Auckland City players, both teams at the top of the table, it has the ingredients for a cracker

                League Position              Eastern Suburbs 2nd Auckland City 3rd 
                Last Season                    First ever game between these 2 teams
                Pick                                 Eastern Suburbs 0 Auckland City 3 

Stat Chat
This is a hard one, the teams were suppose to play pre-season but it got called off due to the rain and I can't remember if they ended up playing or not.
Scraping the bottom of the Stats barrel I could say the last time Eastern Suburbs played a team called Auckland City in the National League at home they won 5-2. 
That Auckland City of course has nothing whatsoever to do with the current Auckland City so really has no relevance, 
               
               
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   Wanderers are 4 points and 4 places behind Hawke's Bay United. They are playing a home game on the ground they played an away game last week!
Hawke's Bay United have only lost 1 of their last 5 games

           League Position           Hamilton Wanderers 8th, Hawke's Bay United 4th
           Last Season                 First ever game between these 2 teams
           Pick                              Hamilton Wanderers 2 Hawke's Bay United 2

 Stat Chat 
Well I was scraping the barrel for the Stat chat in the above game and for this one I find the barrel pretty much empty...........yeah I got nothing

                      
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Friday, 9 December 2016

Stirling Sports Premiership Round 8 preview


OK so I didn't do a preview last week, well actually I did, but I never posted it, meaning I can't brag about correctly picking the exact correct score of 4-1 for Team Wellington v Southern United!

This week sees another round of 4 games only, as Auckland City are away in Japan for the FIFA Club World Cup, where they came agonisingly close to getting another famous result but fell to a late goal from Japan's Kashima Antlers and lost 2-1

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The home team is away from home, playing the away team who are playing at home but its an away game for them, makes sense!
Wellington Phoenix are taking on the Central Coast Mariners in the A-League at 7:35pm and this game is the curtain raiser which will also be on Sky TV

                      League Position       Weenix 6th Hamilton Wanderers 8th
                      Last season             1st ever game between these 2 teams

Stat Chat 
FMG (or Waikato) Stadium will be the 8th “home” ground used by the Weenix, the others being David Farrington Park, Newtown Park, Westpac Stadium, Petone Memorial and Hutt Rec in Wellington and Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium & Eden Park

                      Pick                          Weenix 1 Hamilton Wanderers 1

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When this game kicks off it will be 377 days since Southern United have recorded a win, while new coach Paul O'Reilly and his Irish imports have given reason for optimism they have yet to convert improved performances into results on the field

             League Position             Southern United 10th Hawke's Bay United 5th
             Last season                   Southern United 1 Hawke's Bay United 2

Stat Chat 
Its been 5 years since Southern United (then Otago United) have beaten 
Hawke's Bay United (it was 2-0).

             Pick                             Southern United 1 Hawke's Bay United 3

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Another Stirling Sports Premiership game that's a curtain raiser this weekend, this one to the National Women's League Final of Canterbury United Pride v Capital, which kicks off at 4pm - it should be a great day of football at English Park

             League Position             Canterbury United 7th Eastern Suburbs 1st
             Last season                    1st ever game between these 2 teams

Stat Chat 
Christchurch has not been a particular happy hunting ground for Eastern Suburbs, of their 19 visits to the garden city they have played Christchurch United, New Brighton, Woolston Working Men's Club and Cashmere Technical and only won 4 times, drawn 4 and lost 13

             Pick                                Canterbury United 2 Eastern Suburbs 3

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The Craft Beer Derby – Nelson claim they are the Craft Brewing Capital of NZ, while Wellington claim they are the Craft Beer Capital. Nelson has the hops and 12 breweries, Wellington has 10 breweries and many bars in which to taste the amber nectar revolution
  
             League Position              Tasman United 9th Team Wellington 3rd
             Last Season                    1st ever game between these 2 teams

Stat Chat 
Team Wellington have played in Nelson once before in 2010 when they beat Canterbury United 2-1 in front of a crowd of 2500. 
 
             Pick                                 Tasman United 1 Team Wellington 2

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