MPL – Round Nine v Western AFC
On Saturday we played against our local rivals at Home in the Mainalnd Premier league. Sitting just above us in third spot I felt not only a win would put us in the top 3 ahead of them but would also be one foot in the door to qualify for the South Island league.
Experience in the lineup
We were a much more experienced team today then the one that played against Western 7 or so weeks ago in a 2-1 loss. We started the game ever so brightly with two quick fire goals from two of the cities hot prospects. The first was a finesse top bins cracker from Jacob Richards. Jacob started on the left to take advantage of a weakness we could exploit and its paid off today. The goal started from Haris dribbling through 3 players before dishing it off to JJ to go inside his man to finish.
Our second goal started from some great combination play that seen Spain 1 on 1 with the Western keeper. It was a great save but the follow up had some confusion and Haris pounced on it. After 12 minutes we were 2-0 up and loving it.
Just 3 minutes later Western scored after our keeper has punched a corner which fell nicely to Thoms who volleyed it above a scramble of players to score. After this our reaction was class. Smiley was through own goal but taken down just outside the box. What could have been a red was a yellow in the end. It was that free kick that we took quickly and scored but for some reason the referee said it needed to be retaken. After hitting the bar and squandering more chances Western then scored of a free kick scramble. Bodies flying everywhere resulted in a tap in for Stanley.
2-2 at halftime and we are thinking surely if we just do what we have done the first 45 minutes we win the game 4-2. We started the 2nd half brightly as we continued to play out from the back pretty comfortably and dominate possession 65%. But we knew if we didnt score and we give away a silly foul in our own half Western were capable of scoring.
Late Goals to Win
It took us 86 minutes to finally score our 3rd goal. Spain has won a header and super sub Brett has raced onto it nodding it beyond the tiring Western defenders and striking it past a formidable Hinton in goal. After the goal Western come out of their shell a bit more in search of a goal and we managed to get another. This time Haris must have run past 5 players and squares it to JJ in an exhilarating counter. JJ finds Spain at far post for a tap in.
We won the game 4-2 and far out we had to work hard for it. Western played with their heart and soul to get a victory today and you need to commend their effort. In the end they were very close to earning themselves a point. I think the fact that they have scored 4 goals against us from set plays shows a real determination thats hard to match. Maybe if they hadnt got a player sin binned in the last 10 minutes things could have been different. I know we would have created chances in that time either way.
Stats and MOM
A big win for our boys and a real confidence boaster that we needed. 17 shots to their 6 and 64% possession tells me we played pretty good against a team that sat 3rd above us. Finally we converted some of our chances and hopefully we can continue to do so.
We had some great performers today. Connor Lidstone was winning nearly all of his defensive challenges. JJ was threatening as hell but you cant go past that performance from Haris Zeb. 18 dribbles today and over 60% successful. If he keeps developing on when to pass and when to take a player on he can go professional.
Our next two games are against Cashmere Tech and we are super keen to play the way we have been playing against the table leaders. Another opportunity to measure how where we are at. Hope to see you there.