Double-header closes first round of senior football
The 2019 men’s first-round competition came to a close on Sunday with a double-header at Arthur Fong. With Westport cos already too far ahead to be caught at the top, there was little to play for other than the Sarah Clearwater trophy and some pride.
The early game saw Westland United play Grey United. Both teams sat on a singular point from three games prior to kick off. Grey United took the lead after a rare Aaron Williams goal, a fine finish after a well-weighted through ball. Will Pilcher took advantage of some unorganised defending at the other end to draw Westland level shortly after. Daniel Horridge put Grey United back in front, getting a foot to a chipped pass to roll the ball into the net. Pilcher kept the Grey United on their toes and capitalised twice more before half time after Westland attacks failed to be adequately cleared. Grey United came out stronger in the second half keen for a quick equaliser, but it was Sam Reeves in the Westland attack who turned inside his marker and fired in a shot that on other days the Grey United keeper would hope to save. As it was, this one sneaked in for a 4-2 lead. Neil Bolton, Westland’s second-half keeper, made numerous reflex saves but it was a long, high clearance from Carl Schroeder that got caught in the wind and looped over Bolton, into the net. Grey United saw their chance of an equaliser, but once more a misplaced pass was picked up by Pilcher who fired home from outside the box for his fourth of the game. Callum Martinus brought the score to 5-4, getting on the end of a long clearance over the top, but that was to be the last goal of the game. Westland United four games so far this season have seen a total of 34 goals, which is even more remarkable since one of those games was a 0-0 draw.
The late kick-off saw Marist, the current holders of the Sarah Clearwater trophy, defend it against Westport Cos. This trophy is defended in home games only, and Marist already had one successful defence this season against Grey United. The game started very competitively but Westport were getting the better of the chances. Ethan Kelleher made several saves, including three in a row during one Westport attack. It was two goals in two minutes that won this game for Westport. After a strong shot, Kelleher was able to get a hand to it and the ball looped into the air towards the back post, only for Dan Maloney to get to the ball first and head into the net for his seventh goal of the season. Shortly after kick-off, Josh Roche found some space in the Marist defence and coolly slotted past Kelleher after the keeper came out to the edge of the box to close him down. The majority of the rest of the game both sides compete well in midfield and take little chances in defence, however, there were few clear chances for either side. Michael Suleman scored Westport’s third late on, but the tie was already won. Westport now take the Sarah Clearwater trophy north for the third time, more than any other team on the Coast.
The women’s league had a start of sorts to its main competition. The Goblins took a 3-0 win after the Westland United team were forced to withdraw from the game.
There are no games next weekend due to Queen’s birthday weekend. The men’s knock-out cup starts the following weekend on the 9th of June with Paroa hosting Westport Cos. Both these teams have been drawn to play the only quarter-final of the competition, with the three other teams having a bye straight into the semi-finals. In the women’s league, Westland United face the Dragons.