After a promising start to the season, the lads were looking forward to taking on the division favourites – Karori. We knew Karori would come out firing after a surprise loss last weekend but we were confident and believed if we played anywhere near our potential a result was there for the taking.
Despite the windy conditions both sides started the game brightly. The game was being played at a high tempo, with chances being created at both ends. It was Karori who took an early lead in the 6th minute after the ball was bundled into the net following a goal mouth scramble. The Karori celebrations showed just how much the go ahead goal meant to them.
The lads picked themselves up quickly and were playing their part in the contest. George Frost was full of energy as he and the attacking unit pressed with intensity and purpose. As a result of us executing our pressing triggers, we were often winning possession in the middle third of the pitch. Luciano Colucci and Tom McCann were causing the Karori back four problems with their pace and trickery.
As the half wore on, Karori had chances of their own but were thwarted by the excellent and acrobatic Sam Martin in goal. Two saves in particular were top class as the big man threw himself at the ball. Martin’s shot stopping ability is unparalleled in this division and he certainly prevented us from falling further behind.
As the half-time whistle sounded we were left to reflect on a half of football where we had maintained our shape and defensive discipline and had successfully dealt with Karori’s main attacking threats. Despite being behind on the score line we knew we had goals in us. Six of our ten goals so far this season have come during the second half, so we remained full of belief that a result was there for the taking.
We started the second half well and again quickly settled into a good rhythm. McCann was coming into his own, running at defenders with pace and purpose. Frost was continuing his fine display and captain Terry O’Donnell was full of creativity in the middle of the park.
We introduced the lively Ben Purser into the game with the hope his range of passing could unlock the Karori defence. With our back four continuing to repel any Karori attacks, the game remained on a knife’s edge as we entered the final 30 minutes.
Martin was called into action again with a wonderful double save. This got us going again and the resulting attack saw McCann go on a length of the field run, beating defenders with his blinding speed and quick feet. McCann delivered a quality ball into the area where Colucci’s stooping header went agonisingly wide of the far post.
With time running out, we kept our composure and were enjoying longer spells in possession but we still hadn’t found the goal we so desperately needed.
Karori were managing to hold on to their lead as we entered the last ten minutes of the match. With seven minutes remaining, Karori scored a second. We had a free kick and had committed numbers forward. We were caught in transition and were made to pay. 2-0 Karori and it looked like the result was slipping away.
Two minutes later and Karori rubbed salt into the wound with a third goal as the ball was bundled over the line. They then managed yet another goal in the 90th minute, as a deflected shot from outside of the area took the ball beyond the reach of the helpless Martin in the Brooklyn goal.
4-0 the final score and while Karori had earned the win, the score by no means reflected the closeness of this encounter. We had certainly played our part and were their match for 83 minutes.
It serves as a timely reminder of the quality of this league. We switched off only for a matter of minutes and were made to pay the price. We need to dust ourselves off and make sure we bounce back ahead of Tuesday’s training.
This result shouldn’t erode any of the belief we have built up over recent months. We believe we are better than a mid-table team. We have the perfect opportunity to start proving that next week when we take on Island Bay in what will be a keenly contested derby.
Strong performances from Tom McCann, fullbacks Steven Cromb and John O’Driscoll and man of the match George Frost. Frost, in his fourth season in the 1st team has developed into one of the most consistent performers in the league. His pace, energy and delivery were all excellent again today.
Congratulations to the Reserves who maintain their unbeaten start to the season beating University 4-1. Goals to Angus Rooney (2), Ben Goodwin and Steve Woods.
The Reserves fixture also saw Richard Bentley make his final appearance for the club before he and his young family head back to the UK. Rich has been a stalwart for this club over the last nine seasons having made over 100 appearances for the 1st team during this time. On behalf of the club we wish you all the best Rich, you will be missed.
Thanks to all those who came to support us on Saturday, it is always greatly appreciated. Look forward to seeing (and hearing) you again next week against Island Bay.