We travelled to Karori Park to face the runaway league leaders, in a game where we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. We had formulated a game plan we believed would stifle their attacking threats while enabling our own flair players the freedom to cause Karori’s back four plenty of headaches.
The game quickly settled into a pattern, Karori comfortable in possession, without causing us too many problems and us counter attacking with promise and intent.
Karori opened the scoring in the 10th minute with a piece of genuine quality as the Karori player drove into the box, beating two defenders before executing a fine finish into the bottom corner. 1-0 Karori.
John O’Driscoll was a constant threat throughout the contest as he broke forward with speed and trickery. Both he and George Frost were starting to create opportunities, all we needed to do was capitalise.
Tom Graham had a fantastic opportunity to draw us level after we turned the ball over on halfway, George Frost sped away from two defenders and played an inch perfect cross onto the left foot of Graham who was well placed but could only side foot his shot into the side netting. Tim Hall, playing his final game for the season, before he heads back to Christchurch to finish his studies, fashioned a wonderful opportunity for himself as he swivelled and shot. The shot flying just over the crossbar. We were certainly creating enough clear cut opportunities to remain in the contest.
Karori’s 1st goal was of real quality, their 2nd goal was the complete opposite after we failed to clear our own lines and the ball was bundled over the goal line. 2-0 Karori after 25 minutes and again we were chasing the game.
The 2nd goal really sparked us into life. We pressed higher up the pitch, there was greater energy in the middle of the park as Matt Balmforth took control and squeezed every Karori touch.
We were shifting momentum in the last 15 minutes and enjoyed a lengthy, quality spell of possession. Graham again finding space in behind Karori’s back four, only for his right footed shot flying agonisingly wide.
As we approached halftime we earned a succession of corners. The first saw Balmforth head just over, while only seconds later, the ball broke for Terry O’Donnell on the edge of the area, only for his shot to swerve away from goal. 2-0 down at halftime and we had fashioned more opportunities in one half of football than we had in our previous two fixtures combined. The problem was we were on the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline and would need to demonstrate the energy, desire and attacking intent that we had before the break.
We introduced Andy Cochrane, who was making his first 1st team appearance of the season, after a lengthy injury break, for Ben Purser who succumbed to a lower back complaint.
Cochrane quickly forged a formidable partnership with Balmforth in the middle of the park and it was both players who were at the heart of all things positive we produced during the 2nd half.
The ball was getting wider earlier, giving Frost and O’Driscoll the time and space to engage Karori’s fullbacks. We were getting into dangerous areas, but still couldn’t find the goal we needed to get back in the contest.
Heartbreakingly, it was Karori who scored next after 49 minutes, another goal where we didn’t clear our lines, bouncing off the head of two Brooklyn defenders before eventually falling at the feet of the Karori player, who made no mistake with a well-placed finish.
We weren’t going to lie down and introduced the pacey Tom McCann and creative Elliot Riley as we continued to push for a way back into the game.
Balmforth found himself with the ball at his feet inside Karori’s six yard box, only to blaze over the crossbar. We were doing all we could, apart from putting the ball in the back of the net.
Tom McCann had an opportunity from the edge of the area, only to drag his shot wide of the left hand upright.
With the clock running down, Cochrane, O’Driscoll and Frost all came into their own with some wonderful combination play on both sides of the pitch. For all of our effort and fight, we just couldn’t find the back of the net.
The fulltime whistle sounded and we were left to reflect on a game where we had been outplayed by the league leaders, but we gave so much to the contest, and I think we can take many positives from our performance.
Strong performances from Matt Balmforth, Andy Cochrane, George Frost and man of the match John O’Driscoll who was a constant menace to Karori’s fullbacks all afternoon.
With Miramar upsetting Olympic, our job of staying in this league got a bit tougher, we are now six points from safety with five games remaining. We can’t hide from our current position but we are lucky at Brooklyn to have players who have the fight, desire and quality who will do all they can to remain in the premier division.
Brooklyn has been a huge part of Annie and my lives for the past five years and we aren’t ready to say goodbye to Premier football, we have come too far to only come this far. We will be doing all we possibly can to take this team forward.
Bring on Island Bay next week.