We travelled to David Farrington Park to take on a strong Miramar side, who finished third in the league last season. We were full of confidence after recent performances, but needed to start turning 1 point into 3.
We started well enough with Nick Grice commanding the back four and Elliot Riley settling into his work in the middle of the park. We were failing to maintain possession for long periods and were forcing passes in the final third.
Miramar took the lead in the 15th minute through CJ Atkinson. We had strong claims for a penalty turned down by the referee after the Miramar player had handled in the area. Miramar took control of the ball and looked to counter attack at speed. Atkinson noticed Sam Martin off his line and lobbed the keeper from 30 yards into an empty net. 1-0 Miramar.
The goal didn’t spark us into life as it should have. We were becoming frustrated with some of our decision making, and as a result we were not settling into our usual tempo and aggressive pressing style.
Miramar extended their lead in the 37th minute, again we turned the ball over and again Atkinson noticed Martin off his line. The lob and end result were identical to the first goal. 2-0 Miramar and we had a big job on our hands.
As we approached half-time Steve Cromb, who was one of the few Brooklyn players enjoying a strong first half, made a crunching tackle just outside our own area to win the ball back. This tackle seemed to galvanise the lads, and there was a noticeable improvement in our intensity and execution following that challenge.
Luciano Colucci was another enjoying a strong game, and it was he who found us a way back into the match. Colucci looked dangerous with every touch as he weaved through defenders trying to create a shooting opportunity. He twisted and turned inside the Miramar area, beating the same player three times before slamming the ball into the top left hand corner. Emphatic finish, and we were back in the game. 2-1 to Miramar at the interval.
There was no need to panic at half-time, we had created the better chances but needed to stop shooting ourselves in the foot. The only time Sam Martin had touched the ball was to pick it out of his own net. We had limited Miramar to very few chances. If we relaxed on the ball and played anywhere near our potential we knew we could earn a result.
We came out firing in the second half, with some of the best football we have played over the last 18 months. We pressed Miramar high up the pitch and won every challenge. Steve Cromb seemed to be everywhere up and down the left hand side. His energy and work rate were inspiring his team mates. Terry O’Donnell and Elliot Riley took control of midfield and Paul Clune, Tom McCann and Colucci were all finding pockets of space, getting into dangerous areas and creating chances.
We drew level in the 56th minute after the referee finally awarded us a penalty. Colucci stepped up and made no mistake with a powerful strike, sending the Miramar keeper the wrong way. 2-2 and we had momentum.
We were almost unstoppable as we continued to push and press. Colucci, who looked like he would score with every touch completed his hat-trick in the 66th minute as he again weaved his way through the Miramar back four before producing another strong finish with his left foot, beating the keeper at his near post. 3-2 Brooklyn and we were firmly in control.
We injected the pace and guile of Ben Purser into midfield and he very nearly extended our lead with his first touch, only to have his shot tipped around the far post.
We had the 3 points firmly in our sights as we approached the final ten minutes. We sent on Tom Graham for Tom McCann (McCann making his 1st start in 9 months, having recovered from serious injury) and Steve Lyons whose instruction was to sit and shield the back four from his defensive midfield position.
Miramar had earned themselves a corner in the 81st minute and it was their main threat Atkinson who got in front of his marker to head home and pull the home side back to level terms. 3-3, an all too familiar score line. You could sense the disappointment amongst the lads.
To their credit, they picked themselves up and went in search of a winner. We had created so many chances throughout the match, surely we could fashion one more…surely.
As Colucci made another defence splitting run into the area, his shot was saved, the ball bounced out to Clune who surely must score but he too had his effort repelled by the keeper.
As the ball bounced around in the area it fell to the feet of Steve Lyons who needed no second invitation as he slammed the ball into the back of the net to score his first goal in three years. 4-3 Brooklyn and yet another dramatic game of football ending with delirious scenes of celebration.
As the final whistle sounded, you could sense the relief amongst the players. They had shown such character and belief to come back from 2-0 down. They produced a wonderful second half display and kept fighting to find a way to win the match.
As echoes of ‘Sweet Molly Malone’ rang out around the ground we were left to reflect on what was another wonderful game of football, full of drama, suspense and excitement, resulting in our first win of the campaign and maintaining our unbeaten start.
Strong performances from centre back Nick Grice who won every challenge and Rohan Boyle who excelled in the unfamiliar position of right back. It was impossible to choose between Steve Cromb and Luciano Colucci for man of the match.
Cromb had an inspired match, not only did his work rate and ball winning ability help get his team back into the contest, but his range of passing and timing of forward runs were a genuine threat.
Colucci, who was a constant menace throughout the match, tore the Miramar defence to shreds time and time again. His ability to beat players with ease and powerful finishing prowess will no doubt cause opposition teams real problems for the rest of the season.
We quite rightly celebrated what was a deserved victory. Now our attention turns to next week as we take on the highly fancied Karori at Wakefield Park.
Thanks to all who ventured out to watch us yesterday. We really appreciate your continued support. You were again rewarded with another entertaining game of football.
Congratulations to the Reserves who maintain their unbeaten start to the season, brushing aside Petone 3-2. An own goal, Benji Goodwin and Steve Woods the goal scorers.
Look forward to seeing you around the (new) clubrooms next weekend.