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Monday, December 14, 2009

Purgatory....and all stops North

A weekend review 12-13 December

Wellington Phoenix 0-Sydney FC 1
Capital Football 4-Waikato-Bay of Plenty 1 (National Women's League-Semifinal)
Auckland City 0- Atlante 3

Wellington Phoenix 0-Sydney FC 1

Head north from Wellington and the road signs are peppered with the names of small towns and so called 'cities' which begin with the letter P. There is a punctual glut of P-towns as you travel up the Kapiti Coast; a plethora which includes Porirua, Pauatahanui, Plimmerton, Paekakariki, Paraparaumu and so on until the plain-straddling university town of Palmerston North announces its arrival with yet another primary plosive. It was here that the Wellington Phoenix played Sydney FC in a crucial A-League match.

I went to a party once in Palmerston North. There was a pig on the spit and live music that sounded like the souls of the damned feasting on said dead beast. I had a great time, falling asleep in a car as the mist rolled in across the farmlands. Would I go back to Palmy for a party? Probably not. Will the Phoenix return? maybe, but they'll have to work harder if they want to bring home the bacon, having been bamboozled by the wind at the Serie B wannabe FMG stadium, probably the first A-League fixture to be played on a Stock Car track:
It's like Wellington Phoenix were banished to Palmerson North as punishment for picking up the tag of 'bad boys' of the A-League. And in Palmerston North they suffered the interminable winds of damnation. Unable to clear their lines they conceded an early penalty, expertly dispatched by the Dante-esque Steve Corica, all age and guile. It proved the difference, eventually scuttled 1-0 by a more aggressive and more creative Sydney FC. The 'Bling' must have been wondering where the hell they were, and what they had done to deserve such a rural exile. It's a far cry from the cosmoplitan cool of Sydney -the biting wind and fierce sun seemed to burn a red stamp on each Sydneysider's neck, as if to remind them of their time in footballing purgatory with those sinners from across the ditch. Alex Brosque, in particular, had a neck which shone as red as the Tararua Ranges at sundown.

Before this game Sydney had a fine disciplanary record but they seemed to let the wind and sun get to them. In a classic case of commentators curse Fred De Jong put the clappers on Sydney, noting their exemplary disciplinary record compared to the errant Phoenix- within a minute Colosimo was shown a red card for a reckless lunge, and the last ten minutes was littered with yellow cards for time wasting as Sydney looked to kill off the game.

So at least Sydney got the points from their weekend away in purgatoty, while a becalmed Nix keep hovering about in limbo.

Capital Football 4- Waikato -Bay of Plenty 1 (Women's National League Semifinal)

The following day I took a drive out to yet another P-Town to watch the local ladies representative side take on Waikato-Bay of Plenty in very gusty conditions at Memorial Park, Petone. Compared to the Nix game it was a much more entertaining spectacle, and a clinic in playing with the wind. Capital Football are flush with national team stars such as Aroon Clansey, Hannah Wall and Renee Leota, as well as up and coming youngsters like Sandy Cumpstone (from my own club Wgtn Utd) and Amanda Rasch. It was a nervy, and not very pretty, first half (much like the Nix v Sydney game) as both sides battled for territory and tried to read the wind. But the second half sprung to life as the Capital showed a smarter hand, stringing short passes together and running the ball upfield as a unit. The Waikato keeper's poor handling and judgement in the swirling wind was exposed as the yellow strikers followed up spilled shots to punish her with two quick second half goals. A 30 yard screamer with the wind at her back saw Sarah MacLauchlin put Waikato back in the frame, but substitute Hannah Wall's fresh legs created havoc for the Waikato defence and Capital Football put the game to bed with two late goals. The Capital women now face a rematch of last year's final against Auckland up in Pukekohe.

Funnily enough I saw Peter McDonald at a family cycling event that morning and told him the game was on, knowing he likes covering sports events in the Hutt Valley. I emailed him today and he sent me these pics for this blog. What a champ!

Auckland City 0- Atlante 3

Oh and Auckland City's fairytale run in the Club World Cup came to an abrupt halt at the feet of the mythical sounding Atlante from Mexico. It was always going to be a tough ask for the amateurs of 'Shop Assistants FC' to maintain their momentum, what with worrying how Granville was getting on back at shop. They still have a play off for 5/6 place against the incredibly named Tout-Puissant Mazembe Englebert from the Congo.

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