Ellerslie AFC vs Oratia Utd
30th June 2018
NRFL Div 1 Reserves @ 12:30pm
NRFL Div 1 @ 3pm
A season defining set of fixtures for both Ellerslie First Team and Reserves for completely different reasons, but a trip to Parrs is always a challenge no matter what the scenario – see last years game for a prime example of that.
Reserves kicked off our away day with their fixture on the turf at Parrs Park on a crisp sunny winters day – perfect conditions for football! A few changes in the team as well with GK being the problem position of the day as Lloyd was away on work, Jason was injured and all of our young keepers either injured or at a school game. So we had to ask the team for someone to put their hand up, and it was no surprise that Grant Marshall took the challenge on board – more on that later…
Back into the starting team for this game were Victor, Luke MacKay, and Adam Barkley after a long injury layoff. We also continued our youth development policy with Nick Shaw, Alex Arnold and Taylor Smith all coming into the team from the u17’s.
We also saw the return to the team for Joe Junge who played an impressive second half cameo!
The game started well for us and very early on we were 2-0 up thanks to a great third man run from Adam Barkley who finished off his 1v1 easily and then a very technical goal to Josh Lai as he hit a side volley that dipped under the cross bar after a very good cross from Leon.
There were a few dicey moments at the back as Marshy settled into his role – a couple of dodgy moments when playing out had Ian the coach and Marshy the assistant coach with some tactical problems to resolve!
At the other end though things were pretty rosy as Karar grabbed a poachers goal after being the first one to a loose ball in the 20th min and then slammed a very nice low hard shot on the break past the Tia GK only 5 minutes later to increase the score to 4-0.
Tia took advantage of a bit of miscommunication at the back just prior to halftime to score their goal and ruin Marshy’s clean sheet!
At halftime we took off Adam Barkley who in his first game back was very sharp but feeling a little sore so no risks were taken there and Josh Lai who had first team duties was given a break. In their places we brought on Joe and Connor Lewis into our forward line!
Because of all the changes the second half got a bit scrappy and while we had some chances we just couldn’t put them away until Joe got his first in the 73rd min and not wanting to miss a beat in his comeback game grabbed a second in the 95th min of the game.
Second half appearances from Alex Arnold (a semi-seasoned Reserves player now) and debuts for Nick Shaw and Taylor Smith was pleasing to see and all three players handled themselves well – a testament to their work with the U17’s and Seb this season.
That win puts some pressure on Fencibles who still lead the league on goal difference (and a game in hand) from Ellerslie and Waiheke sit in 3rd just 4 points back. A big game this weekend as we take on middle of the table Forrest Hill Milford who have proved tricky and Fencibles face up against a MAP side who are good enough to beat anyone on their day, good luck to MAP!!
For the first team game there were also a bunch of changes as Rowan and Denish were unavailable and Fred and Terry shuffled the lineup a little as well. We welcomed back Denny Twigg to the starting lineup and Lex to the bench both after long injury breaks.
The surface at Parrs Park on their #1 was in great condition, clearly the club takes great pride in looking after the surface and they have done a stellar job – easily one of the best pitches, probably only behind Gower Park. It’s great to see so many superb fields, credit to council and their team for sand-basing these grounds!
The game itself was a curious mix of cagey and open – with both teams preferring to spend little time with the ball in their backline or deep in midfield – the preferred option was to get the ball forward as quickly as possible, Oratia preferring to play a little more on the counter and Ellerslie a little more front foot.
The end result was a bunch of chances, or almost chances throughout the game – Ellerslie with a couple in the first half, most notably to Art who ended up with a 1v1 with the keeper early in the first half but the ball wouldn’t sit for him so he tried a lob over the keeper which went just over the bar – Alex Clark with our other chance from a free kick that the Tia keeper saved well.
The home side were not without chances as well – a couple of very good close range blocks Ellerslie defenders stopped them from scoring, the second ball from set piece play looking particularly strong for the Green Machine.
Halftime the focus was very much on reacting to second phase play, as the game was being well contested for any partially secured ball and Oratia def were getting the better of that kind of play.
Second half was more of the same, I think from my position behind the goal Ellerslie were attacking it looked like we were more dominant in the second half, but for large periods we didn’t have the right key to unlock the Oratia’s door of defence.
A couple of subs entered the game in the shape of Lex and Josh Lai (for Denny and Dylan respectively) and it was Lex who all of a sudden made us look more dangerous and it came as no surprise when he opened the scoring with deft flick header after some good work by Art in the box and a dinked ball towards the back post.
That goal spurred Oratia into action and the tempo of the game went up several notches, Mr Black the referee however did a good job throughout the game and while he had to dish out a few cards as the game came to it’s conclusion he was always in control of the fixture.
Josh Lai created the second goal after he was released down the left and chopped back onto his right foot and slid a ball across the box to Sam who slammed a low shot into the back of the net, the keeper got a good chunk of the shot but the power of the shot was enough that he couldn’t keep it out.
At 2-0 Ellerslie felt comfortable we could see it out and despite a few anxious moments we were able to defend the onslaught from a desperate Oratia side who to be fair to them played pretty well, defended with heart and attacked with a clear game plan in mind – sometimes things just don’t fall for you.
The three points however was valuable for Ellerslie as it takes off a bit of pressure for the next couple of games which are almost exclusively against teams chasing promotion spots, starting with FHM who have had a bit of a rough patch of form by their standards this weekend at 5pm at Michaels Ave!