Far from a Shore thing

Playing at Allen Hill is always a bit strange – I wouldn’t say cursed although results there have been a little tough to get against Shore recently, but mostly that’s just because they have had some good players more than anything else.

On Saturday we had a classic Allen Hill moment, players were late, lost and no showed – mostly for the reserves which was a shame as a win against a tough Shore team would have put some real pressure on Fencibles, instead it looks tough to catch them now.  During the week I tried to prepare the players for the travel component of the North Shore challenge, I warned them about allowing extra travel time and I posted up both names, being Allen Hill Stadium and Dacre Park for the millennial’s to use for their google search (actually I’m pretty sure once they do a google search it tells them the travel time as well – maybe that’s not that useful once you have already left late…)

Still I’m confident my instructions stopped one player from heading to QBE stadium by mistake……

On a more serious note we did have players unavailable for a genuine and scary reason as Reserves player John Murphy who was a key part of the club last season and had just returned from a 6 month sabbatical and was preparing to don his Ellerslie colours for the first time this season was hit by a taxi on Friday night and was probably lucky to only suffer a badly broken leg – A bitter blow for John but he had the support of some of his teammates in Adam Barkley and Joe Junge who recused themselves of playing duties to be with their teammate and friend through his Hospital and Surgery experience, John’s family are still overseas so it was very important for Adam and Joe to be there!  We didn’t announce this news to the teams before their games as we didn’t want to distract them too much – some people knew and I’m sure we all wish John all the best with his recovery.

So to the Reserves game – a tough challenge against a Shore team who beat us in the end quite convincingly in the first round and on what was a very tricky pitch as well – it had drained well but was still soft on top and hard underneath which made footing a bit of an issue at times – some of the younger guys with only the one pair of boots struggled even more!!  In team news there was a welcome back to the squad for Rowan Corbett who had been on holiday and Alex Arnold who made his first start in Reserves, a well-deserved start.

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The game started well with Ellerslie doing well with the ball and creating a few opportunities across the front three of Rowan, Karar and Leon with Monju in behind them in the 10 role.  To be fair we probably wasted a couple of chances but also should have ended up with a man advantage when the Shore GK raced out to challenge Monju outside the box – was it not for the foul Monju would have had the ball on the edge of the box with only a defender who had retreated into the goal to beat – the definition of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.  (for those who are yelling at your screen now that the GK wasn’t the last man, stop reading now as you need to go pick up a copy of the laws of the game and catch up).   The referee however either didn’t want to effect the game so early or is still operating on the now defunct laws – either way the end result was only a yellow for the GK .  That didn’t slow us down initially as we kept pushing for a goal and a nice ball forward that was flicked on by Monju to Rowan who sprinted clear and finished well past the GK to open the scoring.

That was the extent of the scoring in the first half – as Rowan took his leave to sit on the bench for the First Team and U17’s player Andre Fruh took a spot in midfield and we shuffled the team around to suit.  Shore did come out better in the second half, and as the game wore on we weakened, something that is systematic of not having a full bench and also there has been a noticeable drop in training attendance from a few players in the reserves so conditioning is not maybe where it should be.  When Shore equalised we did stage a mini revival but not long after that Luke MacKay got hit by the cramp demon and had to be replaced, Nick Shaw came in for him into a midfield role and Karar I think dropped to fullback.  Our last sub saw Marshy enter the game for Karar who was required for First Team duties, a well deserved call up again for Karar who has made massive leaps with his game this season.

Shore grabbed another two goals in the second half to win the game – I don’t have the times or scorers as the Referee didn’t have access to comet so has not filled in the info on the match report.

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The result makes it tricky for us to hunt down Fencibles at the top of table and also means staying in second may be a challenge with third place Waiheke coming to Michaels Ave this weekend – a crucial fortnight for the Reserves so seeing good numbers at training would be a good start!

For the First Team we faced a bit of a challenge – with Dan McLean away we called up Seb who has been immense for the Reserves this season and has performed well for the First Team whenever called upon so it was great to see him pick up his 46th First Team appearance – Adam Scott kept his place in the side and Conrad returned in midfield as did Jordan Bresler.

Early on in the game we looked ok and moved the ball around reasonably well on the tricky pitch and Shore pressed us high to find an early error, which was not forth coming.  However in the 20th minute a couple of defensive lapses combined with some good play from Shore cost us a goal.  Rahman Bashir started the attack on the left flank and was well tracked by Sam Twigg before he passed the ball inside to Sam St De Criox who had not been tracked by Dylan – Sam made an excellent 1st time pass to Sean Latimer who had dropped off our backline and turned and played a little dinked ball over the backline to Sam St de Croix who had made a run from deep and had enough space to control Sean Latimer’s excellent pass and finish inside the right hand post – a nice little goal  but one that could have and maybe should have been stopped at several points.

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At halftime we spoke about how we were going to get back into the game – we had looked decent in midfield in stages with Dylan getting the ball in some good areas and Sam proving a threat in behind his fullback – we just gave away a lot of ball in the final third which released the pressure on what was a solid but not spectacular backline for Shore.

The second half however was not kind to us and we regressed and as the game wore on we struggled more and more – of course it could have been worse as only 3 minutes into the second half the referee awarded (harshly in my view) a penalty to North Shore after Rahman Bashir got inbehind us and chopped the ball back in the box and lost his footing as Jordan came in to shut him down – was there a little bit of contact, I didn’t see much but the referee was certain.  However the footy gods were smiling on us a little and Conor Tracey with all his experience made what we thought was a crucial save to deny Sam St de Criox a second goal.

Sam St de Criox didn’t wait long to make up for his effort from the spot as he slammed home a nice outside of the foot shot after a patient buildup that saw our midfield pulled to one side of the field and an intelligent ball to a late run from Sam saw him with the chance to bury his shot which he did well – this goal triggered a few changes as we brought on Ben Shaw and Rowan Corbett to try and shake a goal loose from the tree and mount an unlikely comeback

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Unfortunately all that happened is that Shore grabbed a third goal to kill off the game – this one was a little unlucky as a deflected pass wrongfooted Seb and then Sean Latimer who had two assists at this point managed to beat our last defender and beat Conor in goal with a nice angled strike.

Not an ideal game for us but Shore are a very decent side and with Sam St de Criox they have a gem of a player – Shore certainly belong in the argument for second place with Waiheke and MAP the other serious contenders in my mind.

This weekend we get to see promotion hopefuls Waiheke up close and personal in what will be a tricky set of games for us – check it out at 12:30pm for Reserves and 3pm for First Team at Michaels Ave Reserve.

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Round 15 – How the West was won!

Ellerslie AFC vs Oratia Utd
Parrs Park

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!

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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.

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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.

Reserves Table

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!!

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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!

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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.

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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.

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS
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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.

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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.

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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.

League Table FT

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!

TIAvELL FT

Round 12 – Bend it like… Clark?

Is the curse of the coast finally broken? Two back to back wins over Hibiscus at Stanmore Bay seems to indicate that this once impossible venue has become, well, possible.

Round 12 signified the start of the second round for the Northern Region Football League Division 1 and for us that meant a trip to Stanmore Bay, a location that despite it’s obvious attractions has never been a place we have looked forward to visiting. A First Team record (excluding today’s result) of something like 4 or 5 losses and 1 win.

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That solitary win came in the opening round of the 2017 NRFL Div 1 season when Ellerslie romped to a 4-1 win – you can read more about that here – thanks largely to a goal and top performance from Adam Barkley.

It’s not just the First Team who have experienced issues on the coast, the Reserves have had some rough results here as well – but in recent times the Reserves have gained the upper hand and that was no different today as the Ian Davidson and Grant Marshall led reserves (who were a little light on numbers again) got home comfortably.

Monju opened the scoring, playing in a higher midfield role than he normally does as he got on the end of a nice ball over the top – before swiveling and looping a nice volley over the stranded keeper.

We did have the ball in the back of the net a second time in the first half – however a late offside call meant the impressive Josh Lai was not able to cap his excellent game off with a goal.

So halftime saw us head into the sheds with a narrow 1 goal lead despite our dominance in large periods of the first 45 we just couldn’t find the elusive second goal – but mercurial skipper Michael Glenny went about changing all that late in the second period – more on that later.

A debut in the reserves came for Alex Arnold who skippered our U17’s team at the Auckland City Youth Development Trust tournament – he replaced Josh Lai who had first team bench duties to attend to and immediately impressed the senior players in the reserves with his tough-nosed approach and his tight marking – certainly a player for the future!

Aaron entered the game in the 69′ min as he replaced Adam Scott who through a series of solid performances had earned a bench spot and then Marshy replaced Seb with 9 minutes of regulation time to go.

That’s when Mike struck with his first goal for several seasons – up in the box for a corner that was not cleared properly from Coast and Mike’s “ex midget goal scoring sensation” instincts took over as he calmly toe poked the ball home to double the lead, much to his delight.

Sadly for Mike a youngster was about to steal his limelight, Will Sargent who reluctantly plays fullback (very well I might add) and in this game had also played on the wing showed absolute disrespect for his captain as he scored a worldie in the 2nd minute of added time with a thumping shot from at least halfway, over the Coast keeper and into the back of the net, a quality strike!

All in all a efficient performance against a tricky Coast side, with the coaches glad to take 3 points and focus on a key game this coming weekend against a MAP team we were lucky to take a point from last time.

More Photo’s here

MATCH DETAILS:HBCvELL Res


The First Team game was up next and there were a couple of changes in the team due to injury and suspension – Tariro took a knock to his knee against Melville on Monday so Aalok grabbed his first start in Ellerslie colours and Jordan Bresler made his full return from injury replacing Ben Shaw who picked up his 5th yellow card in Monday’s cup game.

The start of this game was very cagey with both teams feeling each other out – Hibiscus intent on building up from the back and pulling us over to one side of the field so they could expose the other side, with pace on both flanks. We had some good moments going forward which also exposed Fletcher in goal who did not look comfortable right from the get go – in one particular play he scuffed out a backpass which went straight to an Ellerslie player who tried their luck on goal but put it over. Fletcher started giving his team a serve before a member of the Coast deck started calling him out on his mistake – quite comical all round.

It wasn’t until the 39th minute (which is a period of the game when we normally would concede) that we took the lead with Alex Clarke making his first league start in 2018 smashed a free kick over (or around) a very short wall and into the goal – I can’t remember the last time we scored a direct free kick* so this was very surprising and of course very welcome.

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ALL THREE ELLERSLIE GOALS

*Its probably not that long ago, I just have a poor memory for these kind of things.

Apart from the goal the only other action of note was when Fletcher collided with Rowan “The Beast” Corbett just prior to halftime and the former came off much the worse with pretty bad ankle injury – To be fair he battled on for the remainder of the half and all of the second half but I can’t help but think it was hindering him somewhat.

Coast did make a change at halftime as they brought on Dan Cyra for Dan Fennell in presumably an attacking move to kick start a comeback but that work was all undone by a combination of back luck and calm finishing. Rowan grabbed a real poachers goal as he raced onto a flicked on clearance and showed plenty of composure to slide his shot past Fletcher in goal to double the lead.

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Coast responded to that 2nd goal by bringing on more pace in Trent Mayes – who some consider the quickest player going around in NRFL – however it just wasn’t the home teams game and courtesy of another free kick masterclass from Alex we sealed the points in the 78th minute with a beauty of a free kick (which you can see in the video above).

Some of the social media reaction to Alex’s double

So that was this game all done and dusted – well almost – a trip to the Coast is never complete without a trip to the curry house – this time a new venue (Big Tikka) which was very well enjoyed by all involved.

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More Photo’s here

Some big games coming up, this weekend both teams host MAP in games that are very important for very different reasons for the First Team and Reserves – come on down and check them out:

Saturday
Michaels Ave Reserve
Reserves @ 2:30pm, First Team @ 5pm

MATCH DETAILS:HBCvELL First.JPG

Chatty Cup R2 – A work of Art

The magic of the cup was alive and well in this second round clash between these two Lotto NRFL Div 1 clubs as they dueled in this 7 goal thriller over 120+ minutes at Michaels Ave Reserve on Queen’s Birthday.

One of the irony’s of the Chatham Cup draw is how often we draw the same team in back to back years:

2017 and 2018 Melville United (both home)
2011 and 2012 Birkenhead United (both home)
2009 and 2010 Ngongotaha AFC (both away)

You might think this would happen once – maybe twice, but to happen three times in the space of under 10 years is mind boggling.  There doesn’t seem to be any conspiracy – in all cases the draw we got was not by any means the hardest one we could have faced, and equally not the easiest either with only the Ngongotaha series as wins from those 6 cup ties.

The beauty of the cup of course is you are always going to have to beat some good teams to get anywhere so there is no point complaining – just get on upsetting instead.

For this game the weather had really packed it in early, and we went down and did an preliminary pitch inspection as we were concerned about the pitch flooding (which it had done the previous day) – luckily the drainage is quite good and the water level had dropped overnight despite the rain continuing.  We did have to clear a few drains around the field to make sure water wasn’t running onto the field from surrounding elevation.

Melville seemed to field a much changed team from when we played them several weeks ago at Gower Park – no Aaron Scott, no Mark Jones were obvious stand out absentees – Jama Boss was there still though!

For Ellerslie consistent team selection has been a hallmark of the de Jong and Torrens regime and other than a forced change due to injury with Alex Clark coming in for Denny Twigg there were no other lineup changes from our disappointing loss to Tauranga on Saturday

 

The weather seemed to play nice for kickoff which left the pitch in the best playing condition we could have hoped for and the game roared into action straight away.  We have been good value for early goals this season and this game was no different as Art struck in the 12th minute as he intercepted a errant pass backwards from Jama Boss and drove at the last defender, turning him inside and outside before driving a strong low shot past Max Tommy in goal.

That was the extent of the scoring action for the first half as we entered the sheds just before the heavens exploded and the precipitation rapidly increased on the poor spectators and substitutes.

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The start of the second period was very similar to the first period with Ellerslie scoring early in the half when Art planted a strong header past Max Tommy in goal after some great work by Rowan and a good cross.

That made it 2-0 with 34 minutes of regulation time to play – and despite being saturated the fans on the sideline (well the Ellerslie ones) dared to dream of a cup upset, however that sadly was premature.

The 71st minute was when the dream took it’s first setback as substitute Federico Marquez scored Melville’s first goal and then in the 86th Stafford Dowling drew Melville level – however we replied instantly as Art got on the end of a nice through ball from Dylan and despite his slip he was able to bundle the ball home to grab his hatty.

So 3-2 with only 3 minutes left you would have thought we could have held on for the win but defending a lead is apparently not a strength of ours and in the 92nd minute we gave away another late penalty and Melville took the gift and equalised the game – the goal scorer Melville’s number 9, Josh Davies.

So off to extra time we went, a little deflated that we had let two leads slip but still well in this contest – unfortunately as sometimes happens in football we couldn’t find that extra gear we needed in the additional 30mins and Melville grabbed what turned out to be the winning goal in the 116th minute off the boot of Josh Davies who had toiled hard all day for his 2 goals.

A bit of a fracar at halfway following the goal was the only blight really on a game played in excellent spirit by both teams and quite well controlled by a referee who had stepped up in the absence of the appointed match official – congrats to him for his performance.

That result left us out of the cup and with the league to focus on we looked forward to Hibiscus Coast away at Stanmore Bay Reserve – for more information about the rest of the results in the ISPS Handa Chatham Cup and to see who drew who in round 3 see below:

http://www.nzfootball.co.nz/newsarticle/63524

http://www.nzfootball.co.nz/newsarticle/63668

More photos available on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/EllerslieAFC/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1927666703921087

 

Round 11 – Home Town Blues

COVER IMAGE: The Tauranga Reserves keeper goes full ninja clearing this through ball ahead of Karar.

2nd June 2018 – Links Ave

As our largest away trip of the season (unless we beat Melville in the cup and draw a middle North Island side) threw up some logistical challenges, picking up vans early in the morning, dealing with tardy players, Queen’s Birthday traffic and well to be blunt some good old home town refereeing.

To balance out that previous statement the young man who did the Reserves game was excellent, probably the best referee we have seen in this league this season.

Travel plans were always going to be a little tight and we made an early tactical error when picking up Reserves coach Ian Davidson from Bombay when we allowed the team to exit the vans to peruse the petrol stations offerings – this was a deviation from the plan and when we struggled to get players back into the vans our carefully planned timetable looked blown.

We did have a good run all the way to Matamata which meant we were back on track with our preferred ETA at Links Ave – however a traffic jam in Hobbiton of all places stopped our progress cold.  Perhaps our second error was choosing the kaimai’s over the gorge, although we reasoned that the gorge could have been really slow if traffic had built up.  Eventually we arrived at Links Ave, only 15mins behind schedule which all things considered wasn’t too bad – and the Reserves players jumped straight out of the van and into a warm up.

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The Kaimai’s

We were a bit skinny in numbers for the Reserves as a number of players had stayed in Auckland due to other commitments so Aaron Collin and Grant Marshall got their callups to the bench, which was deserved and a source of amusement for the First Team watching on (in Marshy’s case).

We did start a little slow – to be expected due to the travel, but it didn’t take too long for us to kick into gear and open the scoring books in the 15th minute when Adam Scott who was playing in a wide forward role today instead of fullback grabbed his first goal of the season.

Tauranga reacted well initally and held us out for the next 15 odd minutes, but in the 32nd Alex Clark who was moonlighting as a centre forward in this game grabbed his first goal to double our lead.

That ended up as our halftime score and to give credit to the Tauranga team they stayed with us for a large part of the second half and then fatigue set in I think and Ellerslie scored 3 goals in 9 minutes to blow the score out.  Our 3rd goal went to Alex Clark who grabbed his second and then Adam Scott not wanting to be outdone grabbed his second – Vic ventured from his position bossing the midfield to grab the 3rd goal of this scoring spree to make the score 5 against nil.

The final goal was the best goal of the game as Leon who had been unlucky to not grab 2 or 3 goals in this game smoked in a long range shot to cap off a pretty complete performance from the Reserves in what could only be described as a potential bananna skin game.

During the second half we saw the introduction of Aaron and Marshy into the game and the watching First Team gave Marshy a mighty cheer – and we managed to get a few snippets of the great man in action with Marshy Cam.

Marshy Cam 1


Marshy Cam 2

It seemed like Tauranga themselves were a bit short of players due to the long weekend maybe with both teams short of bench options!

MATCH DETAILS

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So up next was the First Team game – with Ellerslie looking to save some face after last seasons smashing at the hands of the local team – the general feeling is this years edition is much more resilent than last year so the aim was not to try and enter into damage reduction but rather we were on a mission for points.

We had some changes to the lineup with Lex out of the team due to injury and a couple of others not able to make the trip down – this meant a spot on the bench for the first time this season for Alex Clark and Tariro returned to the starting lineup.

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Not long after the game kicked off there was a red flag when Art in the 10th minute mark received a yellow card for persistent infringement of laws of the game – only this was the first such infringement he had committed – with the referee’s gestures suggesting Art was taking a “team foul”.  Now I’m no expert in the LOTG but I am not sure that’s a real thing – certainly something we will be speaking to AFF about.

That caution didn’t slow Art down as he opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a sharp finish after the keeper spilled a hard and bouncing but pretty regulation free kick from Dylan – Art made no mistake with the loose ball and lifted it over the out-rushing keeper and into the roof of the net.

From that period until Tauranga scored was our best period of the game – we dominated possession and looked like we could grab a second more than Tauranga looked like they would equalise – then we dropped our concentration.  We had spoken at length before the game about how dangerous Tauranga would be from corners and we had watched a bit of game footage to see what they would most likely do – unfortunately I don’t think we expected a near post miss-hit and we should have dealt with that better – also conceding within 7 minutes of halftime is never good – we have a bit of a habit of doing so between the 35th and 45th – so something for the players to be aware of.

So back into the sheds (nice sheds too) and a rethink about the first half – what we did well, what we need to work on – Terry and Fred seemed reasonably happy, the work rate was there, the hunger – we just needed to tweak a few things and work on cutting out mistakes.

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The second half started ok – Tauranga had also made some changes and immediately looked more dangerous – infact both teams looked more like scoring, the game had suddenly become more open.

The next incident wasn’t a great one and really this whine isn’t directed at the Tauranga player – tackles like this happen in tight games – however we felt the referee bottled this call by only showing a yellow for what in the end was a late and very careless/dangerous tackle.  It’s a bit of a joke that the referee deemed it unsporting behaviour (reckless foul) – again something we will be taking up with the federation about how players can be protected.

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Luckily for the Ellerslie player there is no break – but will be a couple of weeks out anyway due to this tackle which is not great news, but we will box on.

As the game grew older Tauranga seemed to be more and more likely to nick something – their midfield gaining ascendancy and combined with the loss of both our wide attackers (1 mentioned above and the other to a minor niggle) meant we played a lot narrower in the last 20 minutes of the second half.

We were still creating opportunity’s however and one of these saw Art get in behind Raymond How in the box, only for the wily veteran to lean all over the back of him and force him to ground – a smart play in the circumstances with the referee not keen to make any big calls, some clever playacting from the Tauranga skipper to act indignant that Art had dived was the icing on the cake.  Again it’s hard to blame the Tauranga players – they were simply playing the referee as experienced players do and we were perhaps a little naive in that aspect.

Straight after that penalty shout as happens in football Tauranga went up the other end and grabbed the winning goal courtesy of Jay Silcock – which was incredibly frustrating but a sign that we do drop concentration at times so again a learning mistake.

We tried to react to get an equaliser but Tauranga used their experience well and Sam O’Regan who had been a handful all game sat a bit deeper and broke up and lot of play and kept hitting his pin point long diagonal balls to pin us back.

At the end of the day we didn’t show enough on attack to claim the points, even if we had been awarded the pen (and scored it) we didn’t test Tom Pamment in goal enough – perhaps a physical game like this with a referee scared of making calls didn’t really suit us and that’s more of an indictment on us than anyone else.

So our curse in Tauranga continues and we turn our focus to Monday’s Chatham Cup game against league leaders Meville at Michaels Ave Reserve.

MATCH DETAILS

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Round 10 – Hard Luck Rewa

Cover Photo: Denish showing his relief that we grabbed maximum points.

Arguably the biggest clash of round 10 saw Marty Rodwell and his two Manurewa teams come to Michaels Ave Reserve in Ellerslie, with points on their mind as the home side only sat 3 points above Manurewa in the NRFL Div 1 table.

That story has it’s own complications however with Manurewa holding 2 games in hand over Ellerslie and both games are against fellow strugglers Oratia United and Waitemata FC.

First up though we had the reserves fixture to contend with – a fixture on paper that looked pretty cut and dry with Rewa sitting bottom and if we could ever get a correct league table it would show Ellerslie sitting in the top 3.

Team selection is always a funny beast and particularly in reserves – on Thursday we had an extremely strong squad to put out, with an amazing amount of depth on the bench and then we started getting pullouts – which happens and we adjusted but unfortunately all the people who withdrew were from similar positions so we ended up with way too many central midfielders in the squad – which didn’t help with team composition .

I know there were a few guys disappointed about their game time on Saturday so hopefully that explains a bit about what happened.

In the game itself we started like a house on fire and Leon and Karar in particular as they collectively won a high press (like really high) and Leon ended up with the ball on the edge of the box – played in Karar who went around the last defender and played an excellent square ball for Leon who tucked it home past the hapless keeper for 1-0 in the 2nd minute.

Normally the Reserves are quite clinical and an early goal like this would spell a tough period for the other team, however Manurewa belied their youth and bossed most of the rest of the first half and they grabbed an equaliser in the 33rd min

It looked like the young Rewa reserves after a tough season so far and started to find their feet in this division as their performance in this match did not reflect their league position (I note since this round that they have picked up a win).

However football can be cruel and Leon stepped up and curled in a left foot free kick(video above), with the aid of a deflection to seal our 2nd goal and the 3 points – not really fair on the Rewa team, but as the saying goes you make your own luck.

MATCH DETAILS
ELLvMAN Reserves

In the first team game both teams started cautiously – feeling each other out in a cagey affair.  It wasn’t until the 35th minute that we opened the scoring when Mr Impact – Lex scored his second goal of the season (in as many games I think).  However as has become a bit of a regular occurrence we gave up a goal just prior to halftime when Rewa’s number 11 (Troy Christophers) hit a low swerving shot that left Conor unsighted until too late to react.

Halftime was a case of talking about keeping the concentration high in key moments and one of those such moments came in the 55th minute as Rowan ended up nodding in the winning goal after the keeper punched the ball into his noggin with a bit of a goalmouth scramble preceding that event.

Rewa pushed hard but when they had their centre back sent off in the 77th minute for a DOGSO challenge it dampened their ability to push us as hard as they wanted and we were able to ride out the rest of the storm for a valuable 3 points.

Next up is Tauranga away in the great southern road trip – always a tricky place to go!

MATCH DETAILS:

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Story and Photo's by EAFC Media

 

Round 9 – Melville or bust

EAFC MEDIA
Pictures by M&M Photography and Ellerslie AFC Media

This fixture was circled on the calendar in the coaching office at Michaels Ave from the day the draw was confirmed – it wasn’t a fixture we targeted for points, but a fixture we targeted to measure the improvement in our performance, so far this season and from last season.

For the Reserves it was also a chance to test themselves against the 2nd best team in the league last season after two classic games on Gower Park #2 last season.

Gower Park #2 was in much better shape than last season and proved to be a decent surface to play on and the reserves quickly fell into a counter attack pattern against a Melville team who showed a panache for keeping the ball for long periods of the game.

Ellerslie opened the scoring via the penalty spot when Joe bravely didn’t pull his head out of a challenge which resulted in a kick to the head and the referee had no hesitation pointing to the spot – this did fire off a bit of discussion on the sidelines about the ruling, but eventually after working through the rules (and some help from twitter) we settled on the call being correct.

Joe recovered from the kick to calmly convert the spot kick to give us the lead, a lead we held onto into the halftime break.  A change at the break saw Josh Lai make his first appearance of the season, having just returned from College Football over in the states.

Ross Borrill came into the game early in the second half to replace Jordan Bresler who had first team duties to attend to.  It was our third sub that kick started some scoring as Luke McKay scored in the 68th minute only 3 minutes after coming into the game.

I’m not 100% sure of the time Melville scored their goal to narrow our lead – It’s been entered into Comet as the 4th minute which is not correct, if memory serves it was in the later portion of the second half.

Melville did have a chance to level the game when the referee very harshly adjudged Tavis to have handballed in the box when it clearly came off his chest – however justice was served twice as Lloyd saved the spotkick and then the followup shot to keep our lead intact.

Rather than defend our slender lead the Reserves went on another attack and a square ball across the box evaded everyone but Luke who was more than happy to add his second goal of the game in injury time.

A happy Reserves team tucked into some pizza in the clubrooms with 3 points safely locked into the standings while the fans man of the match Lloyd Huysmans did his duties as backup GK to the first team game – such is the life of a man in his role.

Match Details:
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Attention then switched to the first team game on the immaculate #1 pitch at Gower Park – however natures patience which had shown signs of fading during the reserves game completely gave out and we were dosed in some heavy showers as the players kicked off.

Melville ended up attacking the clubrooms end of the pitch, I would have said we were attacking the road end of the pitch but I think to be completely fair not a lot of action ended up deep in that half of the pitch – well not in the first half anyway.

I don’t think it was any secret we setup to attack on the counter and we knew we were in for a bunch of defensive work in this game, and Melville provided no surprises there as they were straight into the attack and kept us busy early.

Aside from a goal ruled out due to offside and a sharp save from Div (which saw him collide with the post and pick up a knock) we managed to keep mighty Melville at jabbing length.

With Div shaking off his knock we tried to settle ourselves in the game however in the 19th minute Melville cut us open when Mark Jones playing on the left cut inside and delivered a fine ball to the back post where a Melville player had made a nice run in behind Denish – unluckily for us his mishit volley went straight across goal where the lethal Jama Boss pounced and tapped home for as easy a goal as you can get.

What was pleasing to see was that the Ellerslie heads didn’t drop and in the 22nd minute we brought ourselves level again when Conrad Benefield challenged a header from a Dylan Horgan free kick which left Josh Torrens with a free header at the back post, and his header proved good enough to beat Max Tommy in the Melville goal.

Melville did have several more chances to take the lead, however a combination of hard work, good scrambling defence and some solid goalkeeping meant we headed for Gatorade in the break still even with the home side.  The changing rooms were buzzing during the interval with the players having some real belief we could cause an upset and we came out in the 2nd half with a renewed purpose.

The second half stuck mainly to the script of the first with Melville enjoying the bulk of possession and territory, but as we repelled their attacks one by one a sense of frustration grew in the home team – and it was no more obvious than in the actions of keeper Max Tommy who appealed every free kick and pleaded with the referee to make us hurry up our restarts.

Match Highlights

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Our general feeling was the deeper we went into the second half the better we looked defensively – we still didn’t offer much to trouble Tommy in goal other than a couple of half chances – but I think there was a time when both teams seemed to think the scoring was over for the rest of this match.

Winners – true winners – find a way however and Melville steeled from the experience of missing out on promotion last year kept on pushing and were rewarded when in the 83rd min Jama Boss drew a foul from Dan McLean in the box which gave the referee no other option than to point to the spot.

Jama stepped up, dusted himself off and calmly planted the ball past Div in goal to give Melville a lead that we were unlikely to pull back this late in the game – however referee seemed to have other ideas and let us take the kickoff while several of the Melville players had not made their way back to their own half (in a bit of an ironic twist in the timewasting drama) and this opportunity almost led to Art Twigg getting a shot off, however Melville scrambled well and covered the shot and conceded a corner in the process.  This stoppage in play led to a rather humorous (despite the scenario) interchange between the Melville players, the Melville bench and the match officials about the “quick” kickoff.

The final whistle sounded and the Ellerslie players slumped to the ground, gutted after having nothing to show for the effort they displayed – but also with a bunch more belief after going 11 rounds with a league heavyweight before losing via a TKO.

Next up a massive clash against Manurewa AFC at home on the turf at 5pm while the Reserves host Manurewa at 2:30pm.

Congrats to Ben Shaw who picked up MAN of the MATCH honours after battling through 75 odd minutes with a shoulder injury.  He celebrated his prize in style in a nod to former teammate Jason Mann whose birthday it was that day with a swappa bottle of Waikato.

Ben Shaw

Match Details:

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More than a Game

OFFICIAL MATCH PREVIEW – ELLERSLIE AFC MEDIA

This Saturday evening the Ellerslie Men’s First Team host local rivals Fencibles United in Lotto NRFL Div 1 action, there is a lot at stake in this match as Ellerslie struggle for points and Fencibles who are newly promoted into this division and flying high and wanting to keep up their momentum – however all of that is secondary to the main theme of this match – the promotion of Awareness of Mental Health!

Mental Health NZ Foundation do a great job helping people with problems and getting people to be aware of how to spot people who are struggling – particularly in the category of young males where there is a frighteningly high suicide rate.

We have been effected by this recently as one of the main characters of Ellerslie AFC took his own life after struggling with mental health issues, and I’m sure unfortunately that most people reading this have their own sad story or close call.

We want to make a difference in this space and we believe through the power of team sport we can make a positive difference about the awareness of young people’s mental health – Saturday night before, during and after the game we will be collecting gold coin donations for Mental Health NZ, so please come down and watch some footy and donate to what is an excellent cause and one that is close to our hearts.  If you can’t make it to the game but you still want to contribute you can, in one of two ways:

  1. you can make an online donation to Mental Health NZ by following this link:
    https://events.mentalhealth.org.nz/donate
  2. you can reach out and check on the welfare of your mates, ask them how they are – you never know who might need your help.

We also ask in the days leading up to the game you add the following hashtag to your social media posts – #checkonyourmates – let’s get it trending, you never know that alone might help save someone!

This will be our second Mental Health Awareness match – our last match against Tauranga City in our first game of the 2017 NRFL Div 1 season saw us raise just over $500 for the foundation and we want to better that this time!

Details:

Ellerslie AFC vs Fencibles Utd
Michaels Ave Reserve, Ellerslie
5th May 2018 @ 6pm

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Hutchy’s mates turned out in numbers for the first Mental Health Awareness Match

Match Day 4 – Featuring Oratia Utd

So the weekend saw Oratia visting Michaels Ave Reserve – a total of 224 days since they last visited which was the last game of the 2017 NRFL Div 1 season, a game that of course saw Ellerslie escape relegation by the skinniest of margins.

This fixture came early in the 2018 season and it came at what we thought was the wrong time for the home side with Futsal and unavailability robbing the First Team of 4 players for this fixture.  First up though we had a Reserves game that played out in an interesting way.

The Reserves came into this game off the back of a pretty clinical performance against Waitemata’s reserves as they notched 8 goals and a clean sheet, some good performances in that game meant it was tough for people to break into the starting lineup as Brennen and Luke held their starting spots after last weekend.  Seb Poelman came in for Adam Scott (who is away) for some minutes and Jordan Oosterhof grabbed a starting shirt.

This game started mostly in the same vein as last weeks game with the home side looking dangerous and threatening some early goals – Oratia however stuck to their guns and defended resolutely and with good shape.  It wasn’t until the second half that the breakdown came as Brennen made a trademark run forward after releasing the ball to his winger, as he released the ball you could hear him telling his teammate to play the ball back inside, which duly arrived and Brennen got to the ball first with a touch before being taken out by the Oratia defender – much to the delight of the home crowd the referee pointed to the spot.

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Ever reliable from the spot Alex Witteveen stepped up and smashed the ball low and to the right of the keeper to open the scoring in the 60th min – this could have been the catalyst for the scoring flood-gates to open, however again much to Oratia’s credit they re-grouped and pushed on in search of an equaliser and towards the end of the game, at the 80th min from a free kick the visitors grabbed the goal they were looking for.

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Stung by that the Ellerslie Reserves pushed on hunting a winner but they again found Oratia’s defence too hard to break down and when things did open up the Oratia keeper who I’m told was an outfield player made some excellent saves – it just wasn’t to be.

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*Joe Junge came on at halftime, not Karar Sohrabi

After taking the fastest of starts last weekend when Rowan opened the scoring inside 1 min against Waitemata the expectations were high for another early goal.  Before we get to the first half just a quick update on player in’s and out’s for this week – firstly the Futsal comp accounted for Dylan Horgan, Sam Twigg and Denny Twigg – while Rowan was away.  This meant Ross Borrill and Leon Kong made their first career starts and Alexei Davies-Campbell made his squad after recovering from injury.  Denish Chand also recovered from his injury to grab a starting spot, while Adam Barkley came back in after missing last week when he was away.

All those changes probably meant seeing the fast start from last week was unlikely and that played out in a first half that saw no scoring action and not much else either as no cards were shown.

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The first action of note was 54 minutes in when Denish playing in a left wing role was able to skip in-between two defenders and then cut inside a third, this opened up a pass across to the other winger Leon Kong who opened up and placed a pinpoint shot past the ‘Tia keeper to open the scoring and his goal career.

That goal spurred Oratia into action as they made a sub at the 60th min to try and get some fresh legs into the game, Ellerslie also made a change with Lex coming on for his Ellerslie debut (replacing Jordan) and it was the Ellerslie man who made the impact the respective benches were looking for.

After only being on for 3 mins Lex made an excellent third man run from midfield and Adam Barkley found him with a chipped ball that left Lex 1v1 with the Tia keeper who seemed to misread the bounce which left Lex with the ball behind him and with an easy square ball to Ross Borrill who opened his goal account on his debut start.

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That goal prompted Oratia to call on their big gun Mark Withers to wrestle a goal or two back and he immediately looked dangerous, with a sharp turn and finish ruled out to offside and a couple of aerial chances as well.  Ellerslie also turned to their bench as they called on Tariro Mashonganyika for his 2nd app as he replaced Leon.

They say 2-0 is the most dangerous score in football and to be fair Oratia did push on and could have pulled one back but we showed some resolve and we were lucky another chance fell to us late on in the game to secure the points.  While the chance may have been lucky there was nothing lucky about the finish as Lex capped off a pretty impressive debut by getting on the end of a mishit free kick that had been flicked on and left him 1v1 with the keeper, a calm side foot finish belied the importance of the goal as it made the points safe for our maiden win of the season.

All in all an exciting contest if not a high quality one, but played and refereed well with only the one caution in the game.

Both teams have tough fixtures ahead of them and while it’s early days it’s possible to see a top and bottom half of the league developing early on so key points like this will be important this season if we are to stay away from the relegation fight.

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MATCH PHOTOS: https://www.facebook.com/pg/EllerslieAFC/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1869563739731384

HIGHLIGHTS:
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NEXT MATCH:

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Match Day 3 – Featuring Waitemata FC

Round 3 of 2018 NRFL Div 1 action saw Waitemata FC visit Michaels Ave, after proving to be quite the challenge in 2017 under the guidance of Bob Sova.
This season under new coaching staff Waitemata have had a slow start to the season, with their first game postponed due to pitch availability and a narrow loss to Hibiscus Coast last weekend.  However after seeing them in the flesh they will trouble a few teams and should comfortably finish in midtable.

30128072_1861500547204370_826839822002866027_nPrior to the main game the Reserves played and it turned out to not really be much of a contest – an excellent performance from a Reserves side who were missing Joe, Jordan, Ricky, Leon, and Sho.  This meant we had an opportunity to test our self vaunted depth within the Senior Men’s setup and I think we scored a pretty decent pass mark.

Those with excellent performances included Tariro who opened the scoring with an excellent finish at the near post and Alex who bagged four goals and rattled the crossbar with another very athletic volley that would have cost me a lot of money had it gone in and I hadn’t got the game filmed.  Luke who was on starting debut had an excellent 60min performance and his run and cross for Tariro’s goal was a highlight – Connor who started on the other flank also on starting debut grabbed a goal to cap off a brilliant showing from the young reserve squad members.

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Alex who had bagged his first three goals within 29 mins of each other in the first half was a constant threat to the Oratia backline – the onslaught of goals between our first on 13mins and our 5th at 33mins really took the game away from the visitors.

At halftime Tariro came off to fulfill his duties on the bench for the First Team, with Aalok who was away last week to come in on his place.  Oratia to their credit after conceding an early own goal in the second half re-gathered themselves and showed some battle.

Unfortunately for them we were able to go to some quality on the bench as we brought on Paul Benei for his debut (replacing Luke) and then Will Sargent who was making only his 2nd NRFL Reserves appearance.  The fresh legs sparked another flurry of goals as Alex bagged his 4th and then Paul was the recipient of a gift from the Waitemata goal keeper as he notched a goal on his debut.

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That action wrapped up the scoring for the day, with the Reserves bagging 3 points to keep their decent start to the season ticking along.

Match Details

Ellerslie 8, Waitemata 0 (HT Ellerslie 5, Waitemata 0)


Shortly after the Reserves the First Team flanked by Ellerslie 10th grade players as mascots and ball boys walked out to the turf for the main game – A couple of changes in this team as well with Adam Barkley away and Ernesto injured, this meant callups to the squad for Leon Kong and Tariro Mashonganyika for the first time.


The First Team seemed to take some motivation from the Reserves and quickly opened the scoring via the boot of Rowan Corbett who was making his first start of the season and made no mistake after being played in behind and grabbed his second career goal with a nice finish inside the far post.

Waitemata however didn’t wait to be invited back into the game and showed their determination as they grabbed an equaliser from a set piece using their height and strength to their advantage.

Ellerslie were not done though and retook the lead on the 30th minute when Art Twigg grabbed his second of the season with a nice turn and shot.  The Ponies held the lead until halftime when we had a chance to look at our first 45mins and see what we could improve on in the second half.

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Waitemata used halftime to make their second substitution (their first was just before halftime) as they replaced Jason Beetson with Emiel Burrow.  One other incident of note was a yellow card issued to Tom van Leeuwen on 37mins, that card became part of a bigger piece of this match in the second half.

During the 51st minute Ben Shaw recieved a yellow card for what we thought was a solid but fair aerial challenge, again an incident that became something bigger a little later on.  Not long after Ben’s yellow card we lost the ball in what we thought was a pretty standard foul, however the man with the whistle disagreed and we paid the full price as Waitemata got down our left side and worked the ball for a shooting chance, which was converted for the games final equaliser.

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That setback spurred us on, as we tried to push on as the home side and get a winning goal, a task that was made easier in the 72nd minute when Tom van Leeuwen was given his second yellow for a very similar challenge to the one Ben was carded for – at the time of Ben’s card we felt the call was pretty harsh, so to be fair while the referee was consistent in his issuing of cards this penalty did feel a bit harsh on the visiting team.

Looking to gain the upper hand Ellerslie made a sub and brought Leon into the game for his First Team debut, fresh legs on the large Michaels Ave pitch – and the gamble almost paid off as Leon was able to break free and end up with a 1v1 with the ‘Mata goalkeeper, with the latter doing well by staying big and blocking Leon’s left footed attempt to save his team 1 point.

A tight game, but both sides had to settle for the draw with either side bossing periods of the game without enough end product to effect the destination of the rest of the points on offer.

Match Details

Ellerslie 2, Waitemata 2 (HT Ellerslie 2, Waitemata 1)