The WaiBOP Youth team opened their 2015 season against the defending champions, Nelson Marlborough Falcons at Matamata Domain on Sunday afternoon. It was a very even and closely contested match with the result being determined in the 60th minute by a looping header into the top right hand corner of WaiBOP’s goal by the Falcons’ Joshua Lis.
The Falcons were a well drilled team with plenty of height at both ends of the pitch and they had the better of the opening exchanges, both in terms of possession and territory. After the first ten minutes WaiBOP recovered from their nervous start and the team began to show a lot more composure on the ball. WaiBOP’s midfield started utilising their wide players Jacob Mechell and Jonathan Viviani to great effect. Both Viviani and Mechell made some fine runs done the flanks resulting in several dangerous crosses being directed across the Falcon’s six yard box. It was unfortunate that their team mates were not able to successfully turn one or two of these into the goal. WaiBOP finished the first half on the front foot but the match remained without a goal at half time.
WaiBOP started the second half as they had finished the first. Blair Bates was having a good game in central midfield both on attack and in defence. The midfield and attacking players were working well together resulting in several potential scoring opportunities being created but unfortunately none of these were capitalised upon.
During the match WaiBOP’s back four had defended resolutely in difficult circumstances. Both Alfie Rogers and Casey Garner were calm and composed when under pressured while Nathan Kinney and Bailey Webster tackled strongly dispossessing the Falcon’s attackers on numerous occasions. So it was disappointing to concede a rather needless free kick 30 yards from goal 15 minutes into the second half. The ensuing free kick was to see Nelson Marlborough score the deciding and only goal of the match.
WaiBOP pushed players forward in search of an equalising goal but scoring chances were becoming difficult to create with the Falcons getting plenty of players back behind the ball. Deep into time added on WaiBOP had one final chance to score the equaliser when the ball was twice cleared off the Falcon’s goal line. With this last opportunity not being taken the game concluded with WaiBOP having to accept a narrow defeat to last year’s champions.
Head coach Michael Built said after the match that he thought his players put in a good performance and played some quality football but was disappointed that they could not capitalise on at least one of the chances created. He added that considering their limited preparation there was plenty that the team could build on as they prepared for the remaining fixtures.
WaiBOP line-up: Leader; Webster, Rogers, Kinney, Garner; Bates, Woodlock, Viviani (Kipara 58m), Hayes (McIsaac 69m), Mechell (Davies 81m, Searle 89m); Clout. Sub (not used): Watson (RGK).
Photo: Graeme Blake. Words: Steven Built.