Three more points and an enterprising game on the new turf

Our Women’s Premier grade teams got a first look at the new artificial turf facility as their league game took place under test conditions to check for any potential hurdles for a launch of the facility in the next week or so.

Truth be told it was an interesting game which gave glimpses in to what might be expected from both sides now that training facilities have become available for the club.

The Premiers had a lot of the ball and moved it really well at times, all 10 outfielders were getting plenty of time and opportunities and the speed of the ball movement was really easy on the eye. Sights of the goal came in waves and there was quality in almost every piece of the lead-up play which led to a chance. Finishing can specifically be noted as a work in progress where it wasn’t necessarily the quality that needs to be worked on but more so the decisions made in that critical moment where an opportunity arises. Both goals that were scored came from well-worked movements where the difference was probably the speed of application in the final third. The defensive quartet looked confident and in particular, Megan Walker was influential with her powerhouse runs down the flank with new signing Lizzie Ellis oozing quality alongside Jaimee Paterson at the back.

For the Seconds under the watchful eye of new coach Arnon Tapp stuck to their task gainfully. Despite having less of the ball and not necessarily working any clear chances on goal they were resolute and even when tiredness started to creep in didn’t let their standards drop. The Centre Back combo of Tessa Dixon and Chelsea Empson did a sterling job and between block a countless number of goal-bound efforts, and if it wasn’t those two doing the blocking it was young goalkeeper Emma Andrew further enhancing her growing reputation as she confidentially stood up tall and denied strikes on goal.

Men’s Premiers hit the road for the first of their two weekends in a row down in Invercargill with a clear goal to keep the positive momentum in place gained from the comprehensive victory last weekend in the North Dunedin Derby. Invercargill and in particular the ILT Turf is always an interesting place for us to play as whilst we appreciate the opportunity that playing on a quality surface presents, teams who regularly train on these surfaces are at a distinct advantage.

Things couldn’t have started better with the Premier Leagues leading marksman Dom Scahill putting us up one nil within the first five minutes. The perfect start that hopefully meant we would go on from there and play a complete 90 minutes. As has been the case for the majority of our games we are a bit of a slow burner getting better as the games went on. Some good opportunities came and went but the biggest influences came via the disruption caused by the howling wind and the cynical fouling particular on our Vice Captain Tim O’Farrell who suffered half a dozen late challenges from the same player.

Southland got themselves level via a Free Kick which our boys felt they were hard done by to concede and then felt further injustice as a quality ball in the box met a quality run which planted the header past Stewart in goals. 1 all at that stage and plenty to play for in the second half.

As has been the case a number of times when we’ve needed to score most its Tom Durkin who seems to pop up and make the difference. Sometimes Tom can appear to be drifting in games but when we’ve needed something to turn a close game in our favour he’s been there and again it was the case this week as he put us ahead of 55 minutes. It was now on the boys to protect this lead and find a way to grind out the result in deteriorating conditions, that they did as they held firm and denied Southland any points from this match and in turn removing any chance of them qualifying for the South Island League.

A bit of grudge match out at Tahuna Park as Stu took his boys out to face his former side Dunedin Technical and based on their preview report calling him out for leaving don’t exactly seem to pleased about his departure.

Things started in close to the worst possible fashion and some sleepy defending left Captain Nick Kelly horribly exposed and a split second decision to try and deny the Dunedin Tech striker left goalkeeper Luke Schaffer-Swan facing a penalty with barely a minute gone. A confident young lad is Luke and if truth be told the penalty wasn’t particularly great but it still needs to be saved and that he did, an early confidence boost for the lads.

The rest of the half was a really decent watch from our boys, they moved the ball with purpose, the midfield was solid and inventive and the attacking three of Caleb Roberts, Harry Gaskin and YoungJae Lee put considerable pressure on the flailing Dunedin Tech backline. We were however our won best enemies with only a scuffed shot from Harry to show from our numerous efforts on goal, it really should have been 4-5 + at this stage and the game wrapped up but as it stop 1 nil was a vulnerable situation to be in at half time.

So it proved as the Dunedin Tech attacker weaved his way through some poor challenges and planted the equaliser into Luke’s net, a crushing blow after such a dominant first half. It gave Dunedin Tech renewed vigour and they started to develop some patterned play which created openings without every really threatening shots on goal, what this did do was make them more open at the back and the chances came with Caleb, in particular, getting a number of sights on goal which were well saved by the young man in goals for Dunedin Tech.

Eventually, the pressure ramped up and from a bit of a messy clearance James Harris threaded a shot through a crowd of players to put us in front and where we deserved to be. More pressure was put on Dunedin Tech and they really should have been reduced to ten men as a quality through ball saw Harry one on one with the keeper who determined to halt him at any cost charged at Harry’s shoulder first in the head. It was well outside the box and about as cynical as you can get but to the referee’s credit, he urged on the side of caution having been unsighted to the exact contact. Things have a funny way of leveling out as our third goal came from a Liam Sercombe shot that the keeper simply dropped into his own net. A 3-1 win and a jubilant Stu Moffat on the sideline.

Megan’s Division One sides were both away to young sides in the league and both fell to spirited loses to a couple of sides who looked to play positive football. Plenty to learn still for both our teams and now that training can recommence they can work on developing as a group.

Both Men’s Thirds and Men’s Fourths had good solid wins with the victory for the thirds over neighbours Northern AFC particularly notable as it continued our unbeaten start to the season and put early pressure on the chasing teams.

Thomas and the sixths had a few pre-match dramas as they were not able to access the storage shed at Logan Park which meant they were at our adopted home ground of the Oval without nets. Eventually, this got sorted and they played out a very physical game against Roslyn Wakari who held nothing back which unsettled our boys who simply weren’t ready for the physical approach from the boys from over the Valley.

A final word of note regarding our Men’s Sevenths clash with Balclutha which was abandoned when our Goal Keeper Harry was badly injured when he came in to contact with a protruding part of the goal. Kind thanks for the support from the Balcutha club and the airlift transport from the Otago Helicopter Trust to Dunedin. We can confirm that Harry is now recovering well in Dunedin Hosptial.