2011 Premier League
Executive Plate Semi Final
Lower Hutt v Stop Out
7 August, 0-6 loss
Another crack at a CL opponent - and again it's local rivals Lower Hutt. Bell Park & the weather turn it on for a good sized crowd and we're keen to get into the match - again some late withdrawals mean a little juggling of the starting line up.
We start brightly enough - a decent contest unfolding with Mel in the middle working well, aided by an energetic Laura. LH are though showing their experience at this higher level - they never shirk a challenge & their touch and movement of the ball is keeping us on our toes at the back. There's some room and pace on their flanks at times and as the game settles it's the team in yellow that starts to control play. At this level the slightest hesitancy is punished - and we're guilty of that in our defensive third - two quickfire goals encourages the LH team - on the front foot they take control of the rest of the half. Under pressure we are guilty of not holding possession for any length of time. Just when we thought we might get to the half & turn with the wind and sun on our backs two late goals seal our fate and it's a grim bunch who catch their breath at the half time break. Cathy and Steph' make way for Danielle and Mel' O - like everyone they've toiled well and we're keen to get as many players some decent game time & exposure to this standard of football.
The second half starts brighter for us - we're still up against a team with their tails up - but we have character as a group and refuse to go down without a bit of a battle. Laura and Gabby have their moments in the attacking half - and over the course of the next 45 minutes we have opportunities to attack & pressure the LH defence. We have a few corners in our favour - but unfortunately can't get on the end of them. At the back despite the toil of Kath, Kels' and Kathryn we can't quite contain the LH attacks - they sneak one, they sneak another and the scoring is complete for the day. Talented Phoebe takes a well earned break to allow Amalia a bit of the action - and it's great to have some of our younger set on the pitch at this level. Mel' O sneaks a few good runs into the LH box - but her afternoon goes a little sour when injury sees her off the park for the last 15 minutes. On the left side of defence 'Tash is strong, showing her understanding of what's required at this level while player of the day Tara never stops hassling and harrying the LH midfield.
In the end a disappointing scoreboard - but in terms of a valuable exercise it's been a good day out - more game time at this level for players and the management crew worth so much more in terms of 2012 than playing in the divisional cup. As to points on the day - Tara 3, Laura 2 - and 1 a piece for Gabby & Mel M.
Kelly Cup, Marist v Stop Out
31 July, Kilbirnie Park, 0-5 loss
It's a chance to really test our development & where we need to be to play competitive CL football in 2012. We're welcomed to Kilbirnie Park on a very fine afternoon, our hosts are engaging but the pitch is a minefield underfoot.
Our opponents are from the top end of the CL but in the opening exchanges we're keen not to be overawed - they do score early from a very well taken freekick but apart from that we do try to contribute more to the game than simply containing them. There's lessons at times for our players - giving players at this level an inch often turns into conceding a yard, and our organisation is now and then found wanting - but these are the lessons we came to learn and from the sidelines no one can fault the application of the girls in red led by GI. Unfortunately at the half hour mark we concede two quick goals - one a delightful header, one a bit soft and the result is at this stage probably secured for Marist. The team's character shows it's true colours -Kelsey in the thick of it on the left where the slope seems to invariably take play - and when perhaps the floodgates might have opened the girls dig deep - unlucky to concede just before the half, 0-4.
We now have a light breeze and the sun on our backs - and we have the slope so the ball might run our way down the corrugated surface of the pitch! The next 45 does see us with more play - but it still takes superb defensive application to subdue the Marist attacks. In goal Kath makes half a dozen full length saves - but we note the positive in that we're restricting Marist to shots from outside the box rather than any closer thanks to the sterling work of the defense with non stop support from 'Tash and Mel in the middle of the park. Marist do get one more - we can't grizzle too much, but while we're grateful when a rough bounce from a divot slows them we're cursing when our own attempts to play football are foiled by the surface. At the back there's strong performances from Cathy & Danielle on the flanks in the second half - and they link well with the players in front - Laura, Phoebe and Tara full of industry & intent. Upfront the pace of Gabby & the injection of Mel' O keeps Marist honest - and we do have some periods of play when a goal looks on the cards - but the team in green have a mortgage on the luck of the Irish, none comes our way today.
At the end of the day we've got a good look at what needs to be done for 2012 & we savour a cold drink with our hosts after a hot afternoon of toil and endeavour.
Player of the Day, 3pts each for Soph' and Kathryn - tireless & handled the physicality very well, 2pts each for Kath (they could've had a few more but for some gutsy work and a superb 2nd spell) & Laura (very busy, probably got her footprint on every square metre of the pitch) - 1pt for Danielle & Phoebe.
Stop Out v University
Round 14 - 17 July, Hutt Park
Celebrations the night before - possibly in the wee morning hours too for some? With the title in the bag we host a tenacious University in the last game of the league. Despite the "dead rubber" nature of the game it's a good start by the team - playing into the southerly, playing into the swamp at the southern end. With a couple of sick notes impacting selection we have Mel' O on from the word go - & Kels' into sweeper. After a rousing start to the game we enjoy a period of dominance - on the left Steph' B is sharp and set on her way thanks to Danielle, with 'Tash part of the play that tees up some decent balls into the box and attacking third. On the right hand side, the footwork of Phoebe is a delight, & she has the Mels & Tara to link with - GI in support from RB. Kathryn and Kels' are again in the thick of it, coping well though - but we can't get any reward up front & University start to get back into the game. A brighter spell tests our defensive work - Kath' for the most part in command - and there are a couple of Uni' corners that sail across the goalmouth...but stay out of the net. We head to the shed, 0-0, at the half. Fair reflection of the first 45.
There's not a lot to do differently really, and with the wind behind us we tend to have the upper hand again in what is still a fiercely contested encounter - but, we do everything but score - the keeper is good for a couple of cracking saves and on other occassions we simply fluff our lines. Our attacking zeal is exposed a little, but for the most part well covered by Kels' & Kathryn - but then Uni' get the lead with a very well taken strike from the top of the box on a break.
We have about 15 minutes to conjour up an equaliser - Alana & Laura play their part on attack as we throw the kitchen sink at Uni'. Brooke also on as the call goes up for "fresh legs". There's a side netting or two - there's headers that just float over - and last weeks dip into the good fortune cookie jar has left it empty this Sunday.
The last word from the football gods sees us hit (the inside) of the post with the last kick of the game and the ball come back out onto the field of play - and the ref's whistle blows for the last time. Our first defeat of the season - but for the most part we can say it wasn't for lack of desire and some very good football at times - but a very well organised and competitive Uni' team have their reward on the day.
Player of the Day - Kel's (3), stepped up another notch in the sweeper role - & her partner in crime Kathryn is a close second (2) on the day. A point for Phoebe - determination and skill, & a sharp mind for the game around her is a pleasure to watch from the sidelines.
Waikanae v Stop Out
Round 13 - 10 July, Jim Cooke Park
1-0 win : Gabby
The JC is in pretty good nick, we have 3 officials for the game & there's a decent breeze coming from the coast & whipping down the pitch. The team talk is about playing our football, on the deck will negate any impact from the wind & OK somewhere in there there's a little note about the maths at the top of the table for those without an abacus. Despite a limited warm up in our away strip we do settle well from the word go - the training session on crosses taken on board it seems - down the left with a couple of early attacks and within in a few minutes Gabby has the ball in the net when the defence misjudge their clearance under pressure from Tara. Over the next half an hour the contest is ripe - Waikanae keen for the contest and it's a good game of football, once or twice Waikanae fashion chances - but they can't convert & our back four with keeper Kath playing well grow in confidence. Always a pleasure to see Soph', Kathryn, Cathy, Dan' & Kels' looking to play the ball out - and they couldn't do it without the support of Steph' & Phoebe who are both having bright games on the flanks of the midfield. The engine room is purring now, 'Tash playing with great energy and the work in tandem with Mel' Mac is a pleasure to watch. We have a number of corners through the half - and again lessons of the past few weeks are taken on board even if the score does remain unchanged into the half time break. A good crowd has gathered, great to have so many Reds supporters make the trip up SH1 - though we're in Yellow, Russ catches himself shouting the wrong colour.
At the break we talk about closing down their shooters, knowing that 30-40 yards will be considered in range for some with a strong shot - and around the team there's encouragement for each other to support each other, up the talk, up the noise and hustle and harry them for "just" 45 more minutes.
The second half is in most part a repeat of the first, Mel' O back in the mix & she covers acres of space making sure Waikanae have no free ride up the pitch - Gabby torments as always up the right, and there's a handful of half chances we can't quite finish - a couple shot wide, a couple shot high and their defence is well organised. Waikanae do try and sneak a 12th player on the field - but since it has four legs and a collar but no numbered shirt on the ref' stops that lark after a couple of minutes of light humour. Humour or not I'm still biting nails, crossing fingers and where's my "nerve soothing" chewing gum? Into the last 15 minutes - and as much as we know a draw should suffice to wrap up the title we don't want to have to sweat it out - we get a little rub of the green that some could say was missing last week, a cracking shot of theirs hits the bar and their influential defender sadly limps off. That's not to say we clung on by any means - we're good for a series of corners in the last few minutes & there's some comfort knowing every minute down at the right end of the pitch is one minute closer to full time. And then it's all over - our win brings about all manner of celebrations on and off the pitch, I could swear I heard fireworks go off - & our gracious opponents congratulate us on our season.
The next couple of hours are spent in a silly grin funk - texts flying off to all and sundry up & down the country - and we savour the hospitality of Waikanae, & we're the last out the door for the crawl home down the coast road home.
Hard to separate players - on such an occassion so many did step up, but some special mention for the superb play of 'Tash (3pts) as the skilled accomplice of Mel' in the middle of the park, while Soph' (2 pts) was great not only in her cover but also in her distribution from the back - while Gabby collects 1pt for another 90 minutes as the smiling assassin!
Stop Out v North Wellington
Round 12 - 3 July, Hutt Park
3-3 draw : Nicola 2, Kelsey
The team talk is all about putting on a good performance, we feel we can play better than the previous outing at Alex Moore. Last word goes to Kelsey who reminds the team we don't lose at Hutt Park - it's a little over two years since we were bettered on home turf, "imbattuto in casa".
No faulting the girls start this week, for 15 minutes or so we are on our game, controlling the midfield & generally only stymied by the very wet southern end of the park in our attacks. NW start to find their feet (webbed) and we have a damn good contest on our hands. Over the next quarter of an hour they score twice - once with incisive play through the middle, once with a cracking free kick - not part of our match plan that, once again without playing badly we trail a team 0-2. Once again the girls knuckle down, working as a true team and refusing to panic - the trademark short passing game continues despite the conditions & our work on the left flank continues to cause NW a few headaches. With time nearly up we get one foot back into the game, Kelsey finds her radar from 30 yards out and steers the ball up and over the defence, & the keeper and into the net. 1-2 at the break, and to a player there's confidence the game can be won in the second half.
The game continues to be a tight conest, NW playing their part in a match played with passion & vigour across the park - both teams refusing to take a step back. On days like this it's always good to have the likes of Mel' Mac and Cheryl wearing red shirts, both a mix of skilful subtlety & hard nosed determination - at the back captain GI leads the team well, encouraging all with her voice and her example on the pitch.
Upfront it's Nicola on to partner Gabby, we're looking to outstrip their defence with pace and skill at the drier northern end of the park. Our reward for attacking endeavour is two goals for Nicola, both well taken - and there were other chances on offer as well as we gain some ascendancy for an extended period of play. On the left side of the park we savour the linking play of Kelsey & 'Tash - our resident left footers playing well together, while on the right flank Gabby & Phoebe continue to impress. Tara rejoins the mix and her energy is impressive, and but for the width of the bar would have been rewarded with a fine solo goal from a dazzling run in the box.
That's not to say NW haven't had their chances - they are dangerous on attack, Kathryn and Sophie kept honest in their toil to keep things tight at the back, and the very wet & slick conditions underfoot makes their task that bit harder. Kath in goal is impressive - no moreso than when she dives full length to tip one goal bound shot around the post. It also should be noted that despite the vigour of the contest the sporting moment when NW turned down a drop ball in our goal box - an appreciated gesture. Not long from the end NW get their reward for chasing the result and refusing to let us play out the game. A fabulous contest ends all square, 3-3, and for both teams the contest to top the league is alive for at least one more weekend. While our girls are disappointed to have not secured the win - we'll savour the team spirit and style of play that saw us for the second match in a row come back from the hurdle of trailing 0-2. We remain "imbattuto in casa".
Player of the Day; GI 3pts, reward for another bustling display - and lasting 90 minutes despite all manner of knocks and bruises. Cheryl - 2pts for a display of both skill and aggression in the heart of the park - and 1pt for Nicola, who on her 50th appearance scored twice (to take her past 80 goals in senior football!). Bets on her cracking the ton before the end of the winter anyone?
Marist v Stop Out
Round 11 - 19th June, Te Whaea
3-2 win : Mel Mac (3)
A late kick off on a slick Te Whaea, there's a break in the weather - perfect football conditions.
Funny game football, dominate a match but don't score and chances are the opposition might make you pay. We started well enough - there's a good contest in the middle of the park and a few breaks and constructive play down flanks, - adjusting to the pace of the surface one of the factors affecting & curtailing our work in the front third. Marist have some ginger in their midfield and upfront - and exploit some hesitancy at the back - twice. Half an hour in we're murdering them but trail 0-2, well taken goals it has to said - and what's more we've lost Cathy to a knee injury. The tail end of the half playing out with only increased urgency on our part - pace in our play, the defence tidier now - and their keeper foils a few opportunities to keep the score unchanged after 45 minutes.
Changes at the half - 3 up front to chase a reply - a tight 3 in the midfield, and a few words to the wise on unwrapping Marist's offside trap. Pleasing is the chat from the team - confident that Marist are tiring and can be unpicked & exposed.
What follows is quite possibly the most pleasing 45 minutes of football I've watched since Barca' put 5 past Real at the Camp Nou. There's a similarity at Te Whaea as I don't recall one lofted or longballed clearance all night - rather it is the hum of a tight team working hard, ball on the deck, to control possession and wrest the initiative off the team in green. Aiding the cause is one goal back early on, Mel at her most imposing best and chasing down a ball that their defence is a little ponderous in dealing with.
Upfront Gabby and Tara learn their first half lessons - and challenge the referee to have eyes in the back of his head as they look to elude the offside trap - Alana out right completes our front three showing off her customary strong turns and crosses on her 50th appearance in senior football.
In the middle of the park there's only one team now - Marist now beaten to the loose ball & having to chase with tired legs the tyro's in red shiirts. The work & skill of Mel & Phoebe with GI alongside sees us always looking to attack. At the back there's composure & team work to enthuse over - Danielle tidying when needed, Kath calm & encouraging in goal, Soph' & Kathryn outlasting & outpacing their opponents - while Kels' gets herself more involved in supporting the attacking play of 'Tash & Gabby on the left. Great to see so many more comfortable heading the ball in open play - Kathryn & Phoebe especially - and a special mention for Kel's finally getting her noggin' on one!
The energy of Gabby & Tara finally gets rewarded, an equaliser for Mel' who again is all determination in front of goal given the slightest sniff of a chance. Fresh legs on for the final assault and an uncompromising Laura complements our attacking efforts - and we are into the last quarter of an hour when once again Mel' is at her best - a hat trick & the winner to round off an exceptional evening.
Before we're done there's time for their keeper to ensure a nail biting last few minutes as she foils both Gabby & Phoebe in one on ones. When the final whistle blows it concludes a fabulous team effort - one we'll remember for many years to come - the type of match and importantly the style of play we have for four years been instilling in our squad.
Quote from Marist player at the final whistle - "it's like trying to contain 10 strikers when you guys play!".
Quote from our coaching manual, "if God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there." (Thanks Mr Clough).
Player of the Day; 3 points each for Mel Mac and Gabby, relentless energy with the ball at feet, 2pts to Phoebe for such a skilled & mature perfomance in the engine room - and 1pt each for Laura, Alana, Tara, 'Tash, GI, Danielle, Soph', Kath, Kathryn, Cathy & Kels'.
Stop Out v Tawa
Round 10 - 12th June, Hutt Park
3-0 win : Mel Mac, Laura, Nicola
Not a lot of football being played this weekend, & while Hutt #2 is wet and a bit heavy it's a bright enough day. Great to finally host Tawa, another club that at a senior level is making it's first trip to Hutt Park for women's football.
There's a few changes since we played them back in round two, in fact we have 7 players on the card that for a variety of reasons were not part of that earlier fixture - is the squad system working?, we're about to find out.
We start brightly enough, geting on the front foot thanks to the determination as always of 'Tash & Mel and Nicola who is keen for work in the early exchanges. The pond(s) at the southern end of the pitch foil some attacking play - but to their credit the team keep trying to play on the front foot - some webs between the studs might've helped. Out wide there's some breaks made on the left - Danielle showing her skill & experience as she steps into an unfamiliar role in left midfield. Danielle has an ally in Gabby now - with Steph' B another showing her resoursefulness at left back and coping well with the demands. Any Tawa attack is usually snuffed out - Kathryn continuing her winter of excellent form - and Kath is in command at the back, though she rattles a little from all the codeine tablets she's taken.
It's just on half an hour when we finally crack Tawa's defiance, there'd been a few balls skate across the goal mouth lake - and a few others well saved by their keeper - but a delightful pass across the ponds from Danielle is slammed home by Mel' from the edge of the area. Not long after, it's Laura who shows good strength on the ball to fashion a chance for herself - from 15 yards (no metres) on the angle her shot gives the keeper no chance and we're good for a 2-0 lead at the break.
The second half generally follows script, though it gets a bit ruddy colder on the sideline. Out in the heat of the battle though young Phoebe is enjoying the rigors of the middle of the park - and on the left Danielle D is getting opportunities to showcase her skills. The left side of the field with Cathy now at left back is a strength at times of our play - though it is from the right we break and fashion our third goal. Quick distribution from Kath' - complimented by Brooke M with a sharp ball up the flank sees Nicola in front of goal & from 8 yards she makes the game safe. Brooke M has a very good Prem's debut at right back - while behind her Kels' and Kathryn do their part to keep a lively Tawa attack scoreless - though it's a couple of superb saves by Kath' that ensure a clean sheet. She's a lark in the mud and bugger I'm on kit washing duty this week!
We roll some subs and see out a well contested game with the 3 points in the bag - and at the aftermatch compliment Tawa on a game played in great spirit despite the trying & at times frustrating conditions underfoot. Good news for the kit man, next week we're on the turf!
Player of the Day; Gabby the smiling assassin 3pts, Cathy maturing at this level and staunch all day in her play (2) with Kath in fine form and some superb work between the sticks - and in the puddles (1). A great team (squad) effort and result.
Stop Out v Miramar Rangers
Round 9 - 4th June, Hutt Park
2-1 win : Mel & Nicola
Hutt Park is a little damp, with a cool northerly blowing as we welcome Miramar to our patch - for the first time in recent memory for a game of women's football. It's been so long they're all a bit lost - looking for the race track and greyhound hutches.
Miramar take first use of the breeze (& tide), and we try a 4-3-3 formation - a favourite of the coaches, with Kelsey upfront on the left. We're quickly into our work - but this Miramar team are a tight well organised team and with the breeze do enjoy good periods of positional dominance. To our credit we restrict them though to just a few half chances and long shots - well organised as always by Kathryn and Sophie, who cope admirably with the very wet southern end of the pitch. We have some bright play down the left at times, Kels' in her new role well supported by Steph' B - while inside the pairing of Mel and Natasha is as combative as always. Gabby gets into her stride on the other wing - and in the middle period of the half we create some play on the right, with Cathy and Laura in support. Once again we strike at this level a strong defence, with a 'keeper in good form & after a few contested corners & fluffed half chances it takes one of Mel's special barnstorming runs to break the deadlock - her smashing finish from 12 yards a fitting reward for her endeavour & skill.
The second half begins with us in control of the game, the defensive work a little easier at the dry end of the park - and now it's the turn of our attack to battle the wet underfoot. Gabby continues to take the game to Miramar out wide and she has in support Amalia who has slid into the re-jigged 4-4-2 out on the right. Amalia stepping up her game another notch or two, a mixture of strength on the ball and sharp footwork impressing - she combines well with Gabby on the flank, as well as the roving Mel' and 'Tash playing inside her. Upfront we can't quite unlock the defence - Alana playing as the target, with some good ball also coming in from Steph' and Kels' out on the left. At the back the unflappable Steph' in goal is on occasion sharply off her line to snuff out attacks, and makes one superb save that ensures our slim advantage. A couple more pairs of fresh legs and not long after Dani' D and Nicola work well together, teeing up Nicola who makes no mistake & gives the keeper no chance with a well taken goal. With fifteen to go it seems two will be enough - & it only just is, Miramar keep at us and get some reward with a well taken goal with about 10 to go. We learn our lessons though from earlier in the season - tightening our central defence, & see out the game well - nearly sneaking another on a couple of breaks, sweating a direct free kick on defence, but we shouldn't have worried Steph' has it all under control - yet again.
Afterwards, it's great to reciprocate Miramar's recent hospitality - share a chat or two over a drink,celebrate the Div 2 win over the Zimmers - but best of all hear that our nearest rivals North Wgtn & Waikanae have played out a draw and allowed us a 5 point buffer at the top of the table.
Player of the Day; Amalaia Lipidis (3pts) - technique and tenacity, her best game at Prem's level - so far. Gabby (2) - once again a handful for an opposing defence, Kathryn (1) - another fine game of intent, strong defence & reading the play so well.
Petone v Stop Out
Round 8 - 29th May, Memorial Park
4-0 win: Gabby, Natasha, Tara & Kelsey
It's a great afternoon & Memorial #1 looks a picture. Our hosts have had a tough first round of competition but we expect some personal rivalries to ensure a good contest for local bragging rights.
Of great significance is that 16YO Steph' Bremner is making her 50th appearance for the team - as one of the 2008 originals Steph' has seen the women's team grow from the bare 11 to it's current status as just shy of 50 players, as well as be an integral part of our rise from the lower echelons of the leagues to today's Premier league status.
We start with the foot on the pedal, pleasing to see for the coaches as slow starts have been an issue. Upfront there's a buzz from the partnrship of Tara and Gabby - and in the opening quarter of an hour we go very close with efforts from Steph', 'Tash and others - as well as a few nailbiting corners that tease & bounce awkwardly but just won't go in. At the back we welcome back the very cool Steph' McMillan in goal - not a lot to do in the first quarter, but comfortable with the action that comes her way. At the back it's very pleasing to see the calm play of the defense, Cathy settling into her best game at this level - plenty of toil and improved distribution of play down the right. Soph' and Kathryn are their typical gritty selves while given the chance Kelsey is also enjoying a fine start to the game with the ball at feet and some intelligent use of possession. Pleasing is the debut of Natasha, her partnership with Mel' is to prove telling on the outcome of the game - and her strength in the challenge & patience on the ball is a big gain for the team. GI leads the team well, enjoying a busy opening period where she mixes bustling forward play with timely cover on defence. After a few close calls we finally get our reward on the scoresheet, 2 quick goals - the first following brillant work from Tara is a tap in for Gabby, both players making intelligent, timely runs - the second a sorcher from 25+ yards from 'Tash that is top left hand corner and offers their keeper no chance. We see out the half with Alana on at right half, from where she fires over some teasing crosses, while Laura gives Steph' a breather.
The second half sees our dominance continue, Petone tight in their defensive work and as always well marshalled - but it's again the work of Tara, aided and abetted by Mel' & 'Tash that ensures we will extend our lead. Tara deservedly getting on the scoresheet to make it 3-0, unfortunately her afternoon is over not long after with an ankle injury - our lengthy injury list continues to grow. We see out the game with minimal threat at the back - the biggest challenge the setting sun in our eyes - Steph' B slips into left back and is tight in her work and linking well with a busy Laura and the inside midfield. Soph', Kathryn and Steph' keep things sorted at the back - and we conjure up a few more chances that won't quite go in the net. The last play of the game sees a lively Kelsey (in an attacking cameo) earn a penalty - which she calmly slots home to complete the scoring for the day & a match that was played in fabulous spirit.
Great to enjoy our hosts hospitality afterwards, their efforts making a mockery of the previous weekends pathetic performance by LH. We wish Tao and the team all the best over the rest of the winter. News of University tipping over Waikanae the icing on the cake of an enjoyable afternoon.
Player of the Day; Tara (closely followed by Natasha & Kelsey on the 3-2-1 system).
NZF ASB Women's Cup - Qualifying Round - Lower Hutt vs Stop Out, 0-3 loss.
For the first time we entered the women's football equivalent of the Chatham Cup - and were rapt to be drawn against CL opposition, Lower Hutt (at Bell Park). Illness and injury once again dictated squad make up on the day - but we welcomed the jetsetting Cheryl into the line up & a cameo from Alana juggling school commitments.
On a warm afternoon with the pitch in good nick the game was played at a decent clip fom the word go. The width of Bell Park encouraging both teams to play down the wings whenever possible. For the girls in red there was an obvious step up to take - the opposition tidy across the park & very keen to play at pace. To their credit our girls never take a step back, competing at all times and creating some opportunities with Gabby fizzing early on - keen for the contest against some familiar faces from school & rep football. There's width at times in our play from Alana on the right, while on the left Tara & Steph' toil hard. In the middle of the park Cheryl works overtime, while in goal Kath makes a number of excellent saves closing down the LH strikers - Soph' and Kathryn in central defence keep their much vaunted strikers at bay with some tireless work and well read interceptions. However, just before the half we are caught wrong footed and LH take their chance well, 0-1 at halftime.
The second half sees Nicola in the fray up front, and for the next 15 minutes or so we are still very much in the game. On the left Steph' works some good play with Nicola & Kelsey behind her in good support. Unfortunately we don't have the presence in front of goal to capitalise and are punished for this in a ten minute spell - two well taken goals seal the result for LH. In the middle of the park Mel' has battled on despite illness, and GI got to unleash a few barnstorming runs to unnerve the LH defence - while a battling Cathy replaces an unwell Tara on the right hand side of the field. Unfortunately Kath does herself a nasty injury trying to save the third goal, GI puts on the gloves and acquits herself with aplomb, and the last 10 players standing see out the game without any further concession.
We can't argue with the outcome, but the afternoon has definitely served our purpose to gain an insight into the standard of CL football. Armed with this coaches and players alike can tackle the second half of the Premier League programme knowing what awaits & what to expect in 2012.
We have time to briefly wish LH good luck in the next round, as their carpark emptys out quicker than a NJ beach after a "Jaws" sighting - & so we retire to a drink and a chat back at our own clubrooms, a chance to congratulate Jenny and the Div 4 team on their promotion.
Miramar vs Stop Out
Round 7 - 15th May, David Farrington Park
1-0 win: N Bowden
Thunder, lightening and a couple of torrential downpours while I read the paper over a lazy Sunday breakfast - but football is on - Russ texts and suggests flippers & water wings - Danielle promises to wear her life saving tee shirt. The "Play On" call is a good one - by the time we get to the park there's patches of blue sky. The pitch is like a bowling green though it is very wet, which will influence play through out the game.
We take a little while to get going but after 15 or so have found our webbed feet, Tara strong in the middle of the park - while across the back the partnership of Soph' and Kathryn is particularly effective. On the left flank young Kelsey is assured and playing her best game of the winter - coming forward and linking with Steph' and Gabby trying to spark our attacking endeavour. We find a determined Miramar defence hard to unravel, once again we inspire a GK to play out of their skin - and a couple of times we find the conditions impede our control and final strike on goal. There's a couple of sharp blue and black raids, one fabulously dealt with by Kath in command of her area and a few extra yards outside it - but bar those brief forays we are dominant, some tidy interchange on the right between Laura, GI and Mel' a feature before the half time break. Despite the attempts to play some football we are still locked at 0-0 at the interval.
The second half is more dominance, with the sun and wind on our back - we roll subs, Amalia getting into the pace of the game outwide, calm on the ball and incisive with her passing. Tara and Mel' increasingly dominant in the middle of the park and GI adds some bite to our play going forward. We can't fault the toil of Nicola and Gabby upfront, but the conditions continue to hinder our final attack. It shouldn't be a surprise that when we do finally score it's something of a scramble - Nicola I'm assured (my eyesight poor from 50 yards) slamming home from 6 yards. There's a brief moment where our hearts are in our mouths - and a few Miramar corners to repel - but in the end we're a little unlucky not to put the result beyond any doubt. We have to settle for the 1-0 win and the grin grows a few more inches wider when we hear of a 0-0 outcome up the coast. We're back on top by the skinniest of margins.
We enjoy the hospitality of our hosts after a match that was played in the best of spirit - and wish them well for the coming weeks of the season.
Player of the Day: Kathryn Burt
Stop Out vs Waikanae
Round 6 - 8th May, Htt Park
2-2 draw: Bowden, Ranford
After a wet week and numerous cancellations across the weekend it's fine but breezy at Hutt Park by Sunday afternoon. There's a good crowd in to see the front runners in this years Premier League. As a team we're keen for the challenge of Waikanae and seeing what makes them tick.
We're into the strong wind in the first half - and immediately we are punished for a sluggish start, now that's not part of the script! To our credit the girls aren't flustered, and simply find their feet over the next quarter of an hour, settling into the pace of the game and the use of the wind by the opposition. They challenge us at a couple of set pieces and corners - but the defence is committed and Kath is out quickly at times to stifle a few over hit long balls. We start to create chances - Kelsey in very good nick, linking with a busy Steph' Bremner down the left flank. A few balls delivered into the box but we can't quite finish. On the rigt hand side it's great to see Cathy overlapping and getting forward enough to be in shooting positions - while Mel' and Tara sew up the midfield, Mel' keen to run at the Waikanae midfield - Tara tireless in her toil, ensuring we have shape in the middle of the park.
While the wind allows Waikanae to clear pressure our defensive work is first rate, Soph' assured in her play once more and Danielle getting on the front foot with some delightful play that shows her experience at this level. Their "star" player after her early success is so well contained by Kathryn that she retreats back up the field - Kathryn follows - when the star is subbed for a time she fully expects Kathryn to join her on the sideline for a drink! Unfront though we are foiled more than a few times by their 'keeper & we see out the half trailing by 0-1.
The second half sees us on the front foot, trying not to let the wind dictate the way we play - there's fresh legs in the battle - & bright debuts for Amalia & Nicola at this level. Gabby working with her usual guile causes havoc at times, while Tara and Mel' remain in command of the midfield and ensure our play has good width. After a few more close calls we're finally level when Nicola gets the better of their defence and volleys home with good control from 10 yards. Not long from the end we again see the defence play the ball out from the back, a smart flick of a pass from Laura and a turn of pace from Gabby sees her score - and the crowd goes wild!
Just when we think we've finished the job - we got caught at the back - and with time up on the clock Waikanae have snuck one back with a well taken strike. Bugger, that wasn't in the script either!
Frustration at the final whistle - so close - lessons to be taken onboard by both the players & coaches. On a positive note though we are pleased with the way we played football, keen for the return later in the winter and encouraged that our squad approach has again paid dividends as new faces step up and contribute at the higher level.
Player of the Day; Mel' Macdougall
North Wellington vs Stop Out
Round 5 - 1st May, Alex Moore
2-2 draw: McDiarmid, Macdougall
Up to the foothills of Alex Moore on a fine - rather warm afternoon - with barely a zephyr blowing. NW, like ourselves, up to Premiers and making a good fist of the higher level football - currently 3rd after a month of football. We know we're in for a tough afternoon - NW have a full sideline of support and congrats to them for producing a match programme for the day.
Looks like they have the same groundsman up here that we have at Hutt Park - he's got a little confused and put the kids sandpit in the middle of the football pitch - guess we should be grateful he wasn't in charge of where the swing and slide went for the other kids.
We start brightly enough, shading the early battles and possession stakes, but in what's going to be the story of the day we find their defence well organised and it would appear their keeper has found a posey of four leaf clover growing in the goalmouth. There's a couple of near misses and balls we don't quite get onto that should have seen us with a goal or two to our name, Steph' very busy on the left flank and covering a heap of ground up and down the line. In football when you don't take your chances - then invariably the opposition makes you pay - NW score a cracker from outside the box from a poorly cleared corner, and the 1-0 lead encourages their play for the remainder of the half. After a wobble or two we are fairly staunch though in our defensive work - Kels' busy & playing on the front foot - while in the middle Cathy gets stuck in, unfazed by the step up from Div 2 football. Behind her Soph' is at her most industrious, reading the NW attacks and organising her defenders. It's still 0-1 at the half - but the zephyr is no longer gentle - and the pitch does have a slope to our advantage.
The second half hasn't been going long before the dynamic Cheryl gets some reward for yet another uncompromising display in the middle of the park - sheer grit seeing her slam the ball home in the melee after a corner. We're good value for the next 10 minutes - and just when we think some of our RH side play (via Gabby, GI & Danielle) might gift us the lead - NW strike back with a fast break that catches us out. Once again we are forced to chase the game - Mel Mcd, Cheryl and Tara toil and dominate the midfield but their keeper now decides to play the game of her life and saves well on a couple of occassions from Laura & Mel O. Fortunately Kath in our goal is also in good touch - commanding her area & clearing the ball well all day. Just when we're thinking it might not be our day Mel Mcd bangs over our 20th corner of the day - and it evades everyone on its way into the net, 2-2 - good shot Mel !!!
Over the last 20 minutes we have a couple of nervous moments - at both ends, almost stealing it - almost coughing it up - but despite the huge number of corners and the possession percentages we settle for a share of the spoils.
Terrific hospitality from the NW crew back at their clubrooms - a tough game of football and a sporting chat afterwards, that's what Sundays should be about.
Player of the match: Sophie Burley
University vs Stop Out
Round 4 - 24th April, Hutt Park
4-2 win: Connell 2, Adams 2
The vagaries of ground transfers and our away game is now at Hutt Park - a cool northerly blowing but the surface is mint. We start brightly, and some sharp play down the right sees Gabby beat their defence and whip the ball across to Tara who from in front makes no mistake (Justin texts Chris - big mistake).
University are a well organised team with strength across the park, their right flank a source for some of their better play during what is an even opening half hour or so. We make some lively forays, Steph' B working hard down the left but we can't add to our tally and the midfield is a real tug of war. University tie the scores up with a well taken free kick midway through the half and we're still licking our wounds when they pounce and take the lead shortly afterwards. A new experience for the team - trailing at the half - (told you not to text Chris!).
We sort a few matters at the half - and it's not only the wind that will assist us, the collective team catch a breath and decide as a group to concentrate on the football and only the football for the next 45.
We camp ourselves in the Uni' half - the play is on the deck and all our players movement is excellent as we look to break down the yellow defensive screen. A terrific corner - one of many - bounces dangerously in the six yard box and it's the youthful Tara who reacts quickest to stab home the equaliser.
The work at the back is very tidy now, marshalled by Kath in goal and directed by the combatative Soph' - GI gets herself on the front foot and plays the captain's knock inspiring those around her. Out on the flanks Kel's is her old self in the second half and the support play on the right flank from Danielle is a joy to watch.
It's again on the right that Alana and Gabby are hurting University - Gabby teasing with her sharp pace and changes of direction. Twice she bursts into life, accelerating into the penalty box and teeing up Mel' O who needs no second invite - two chances, two goals - and the game is safe at 4-2. University lose some of their fire, and it's again the midfield pairing of Mel' and Cheryl who come out on top of the day's proceedings - at 4-2 we finally dare to text Chris one last time.
Player of the Match; Lisa (GI) Carter
Stop Out vs Marist
Round 3 - 17th April, R Prouse Park
3-0 Win: Ranford, Connell, Adams
After so much rain the weather clears, and we head over the hill on a muggy afternoon to host Marist. Marist look the most complete team we've played, no obvious weaknesses and across the park there are players who could grace CL level football.
We are however up for the game, early play seeing us attack with speed and guile through Steph' on the left flank with great support from Kels' at times. Gabby and Tara get themselves free of the green defence on occassion but we can't quite tee up clear chances despite a handful of corners.
At the other end of the park there's toil from Soph' and GI, with Kath in commanding form in goal as Marist mount regular forays into our half. Despite the even nature of the game there's a feeling we deserve the opening goal - Gabby poking home from close range just before the half. Our play on the flanks continues to offer our best opportunities, Laura with Danielle in support feeding to Mel O and Gabby who have the legs on their opponents.
The second half is defined by the midfield gaining some ascendancy on their very good opponents, Tara relishing the battle and there's never a backward step taken by Mel Mcd and Cheryl. Upfront Alana makes her debut at this level and offers a foil and some judicious touches as we spend more time on the front foot.
Tara gets on the end of some delightful passing in and around the box to double our lead, and Mel O finishes off a move that saw Mel Mcd take on Marist up the left flank and tee up a tap in after a swashbuckling run of 50+ metres.
Our three goal cushion is at risk on a couple of occassion as Marist refuse to give up, a little fortune and a lot of smart play by Kath ensuring a clean sheet for the third match in a row. At the end of the game it was great to be able to host our very sporting opposition back at Hutt Park and reflect on another good afternoon at the office.
Player of the Day: Steph' Bremner
Tawa vs Stop Out
Round 2 - 10th April, Redwood Park
5-0 WIN: Macdougall 3, Adams, Connell
On the road and away to Tawa who last winter were near the top of the table. There's some reminicsing about a trip to Redwood four years ago with a very young team when we were well beaten on the day, but fabulously hosted and encouraged in our endeavour by the Tawa club.
The fashion freeks of the team like the all black kit, apparently the socks are a big winner - but we have just 12 as illness robs us of Soph' before the kick off. Nerves are quickly settled when in the first attacking play of the match Mel M finishes well from the edge of the box, 1-0! shall we text Chris - no that might be tempting fate.
The northerly is a bit brisk and in general forces play for the most part to be down the right flank, hopes of a gentle start to the game for birthday girl Laura are dashed as she's busy providing the link between a lively Gabby and free running Danielle as we continue to dominate the early play. In the middle there's a power of work being handled by Cheryl and Mel' - both relishing the physical nature of the contest. At the back Kels' is very cool in the role of sweeper, keen to play on the front foot and attack space - the same can be said for GI who comes looking for work and embarks on some very strong runs. For the next 20 minutes or so though we can't find a way to goal despite some sharp play opening up the Tawa defence and getting us to the by-line. After a period of "beautiful" play with the ball on the deck it's through some aerial ping pong and a few ricochets that we score a second, Tara getting the bouncing ball on target in a swirling breeze.
We're just making use of our one sub, when Kel's collects a whack to the ankle - and we're set to play out the last hour as just the bare 11. Kathryn takes ownership of the defensive lines, GI slips into centre back with Mel A now on up front to partner Gabby. We get to the break to the good by two.
We want and need to score first in the second half, and a sublime ball from Cheryl splits their defence, Mel O on the end of it and her finish is a killer from 15 yards out to the right. Play though is now generally all down the left, the northerly stronger and Laura and Gabby swap sides of the park and now have an industrious Steph' behind them - well most of the time she is, expcept for the superb overlapping play she engages in. Tawa are struggling to contain our energy and have their keeper to thank on a few occassions.
Just after an hour Mel M adds her second and the game is in the bank, (we text Chris!) At the back on the rare opportunities Tawa create an attack the girls are well organised, Danielle across to clear at one stage, Kath McG off her line for a superb stop to ensure a clean sheet while GI and Kathryn go about their work with minimal fuss. Tara joining the midifeld battle with Mel M and Cheryl means we dominate across the park and a lively Laura has the space to showcase some lovely dribbling and skills.
We earn a penalty for a handball - and the player's committee call up keeper Kath to complete the formalities - or not! Sight of the day is Kath backpedalling at a sprint the 100m to her own goal after seeing their keeper save her penalty attempt!
The last act of the day is a fitting third for Mel M - again her strength and refusal to give up the cause see her finish from close range. The hat trick reward for her overall play but also recognises the freedom she has with Cheryl and Tara as her midfield colleagues and at this early stage of the season forming an excellent partnership.
We retire to the Tawa clubrooms for once again some terrific hospitality, with smiles aplenty amongst some very tired players. Cheers again to the excellent parental support, and Ron who all braved the chill and were rewarded with a fine performance to savour.
Player of the Day; Tara Connell
Stop Out vs Petone Pure
Round 1 -3rd April 2011, Hutt Park 1
8- 0 WIN: O'Connor, Adams, Connell, MacDougall, Duggan, Burley (2 PEN), Carter.
The season opening game always brings much anticipation. This game though had a slight twist as we prepared for our first ever in Capital Premier.
A fantastic pre-season saw us compete favourably against top Central League pposition and helped build a confidence and steely determination within the group.
Our opponents Petone Pure had a surprising elevation into Capital Premier two eeks before the season opener as other clubs didn't feel they had the player trength to compete in this division. Petone inflicted defeat on us in our first ame of 2010 so we were determined to start 2011 on a winning note.
We started with our defensive rocks of 2010 - Kels, Kathryn, Soph, GI with Kath etween the sticks. Rocks? - more like boulders... This back 4 are so miserly they'd struggle to give to charity!
We welcomed Stop Out "Junior Old Girl" Cheryl back to the club - for her senior debut. Cheryl had an oustanding debut mixing the hard physical work in he engine room with some moments of class! This allowed play maker Mel MacD a lot more time and space to express herself and control the game from the opening
Steph B and Danielle T (on debut - but seeing the light and moving across town from the canary yellow club) both played the wide roles and it worked perfectly as we continually used the flanks with our pace and short passing game to create scoring opportunities. And both players commented later they really didn't know how to play those roles. Priceless!
Up front Tara and Laura (on debut as well) caused havoc. Tara was a constant threat to the opposition defence all day long and Laura with an ounce of luck could have scored the goal she richly deserved.
Mel "O" had her customary rest from the touchline for the first 20 and young Danny D made up the squad as she waited for her Stop out debut.
We didn't have to wait long for the first goal of the season. Kels got high (no not that... It's a technical term for getting forward) and hit a 30yd cross or was it a shot...? Anyhow - it had goal written on it the
instant it left her foot. 1 nil Stop Out. And for all supporters please note -Greg and Niru the game starts at 1.00pm so please turn up on time so you can see your daughter score!
We continued to dominate the game into a strong Northerly. The only threat was the up and under long ball... but Kathryn and Sophie snuffed out any attacks with ease. Kath however got bored and intentionally gave a way a corner so she could have something to do!
Mel "O' finished her 300 texts, 50 emails,150 tweets, then jumped off Facebook and entered the game. And her strikers instinct had her on the score sheet immediately as she met a fine Mel MacD corner to head home from 6 yards.
And just before half time the whizz Tara drove forward into the box, got bundled over and Soph stepped up to place the penalty past the hapless keeper. Half Time 3-0
Danni D didn't have to wait long for her first Stop Out goal. Some wonderful llead up work saw us get in behind the defence, and a good squared pass left Danielle to calmly slot home from close range with her left foot.
Mel "O" was then fouled by the keeper after beating the offside trap and storming through the tiring defence.Another Sophie penalty 5 NIL.
We then pushed players forward and a delightful Mel MacD corner was fumbled by the keeper and we had a half dozen. Pleasing was that even with the score mounting the team shape and structure remained solid. No one went goal poaching and even with the whole side being rotated on and off there was no apparent change to the team pattern and shape.
The goal of the day saw captain GI after a series of incisive runs up field inally get her reward. A powerful drive from the edge of the box was hit like an Exocet missile. It had goal written on it before it left the laces and all of a sudden the score was Defenders 4, Attackers 3!
Player of the day Tara had the last say though. Her endeavour, energy and enthusiasm (that's an alliteration) was rewarded with a stunning left foot strike to make the final score 8 NIL.
The expected clean sheet eventuated and almost made the defensive coach smile!
What a start to the season... but an understanding from the team that tougher
challenges lie ahead in 2011.