Its 9.38pm and I have just got home from a tough training session and thoughts turn to this week’s ‘Splog’.
Training tonight at Auckland City hummed along very nicely. Tackles were flying in and
banter was flying about during the seven a sides, always a good sign there is a competitive edge to our work.
Our game against Hawke’s Bay was a welcome return to the kind of
football Auckland City is capable of.
The last ten minutes were a reflection of what we can do in front of goal and the variety of places those goals can be scored from. Matt Williams grabbed two along with Adam Dickinson and Jason Hayne – a good spread of goal scorers from around the team.
At the back though another frustrating goal crept in spoiling my clean sheet.
You have to give credit to Matt Chandler, he is doing well down in the Bay.
He is building up a new team, a different one from the team Jonathon Gould left him.
They have many young players, a result of the importance they place on developing
their smaller pool of talent.
They simply do not have the quantity of players that we or other teams such as Wellington or Waitakere have.
It is a credit to Matt and those before him that Hawkes Bay have done so well this season.
Our game with Canterbury this week will not only decide if we win the minor premiership but also who we may play in the semi finals.
If we beat Canterbury then they stay fourth, if they beat us they go third.
With that in mind the game will played as a curtain raiser for a potential first leg semi-final
(Does that mean this face off becomes the first three legged affair in football..?!).
Canterbury have also come off a disappointing loss to Wellington, so they will be eager to bounce back and gain momentum heading into the play offs.
If training is anything to go by our boys are pumped and sniffing the play offs and the home straight.
Auckland City know what winning feels like and you sense that the players understand the importance of this part of the season and this match in particular.
When considering the play offs it is hard to feel sympathy for Otago.
They have been third or fourth for the majority of the season and have just missed out in the last couple of weeks.
It makes you wonder what would've happened had the league format been comprised competition of three rounds.
Malcolm Fleming has done very well since taking the reigns as coach.
He’s built a team based around a strong back bone and a competitive nature.
Like most teams we didn't get the ball over the line down at Carisbrook and its testimony to the hard work they put in this season.
Another team for next season, if the team can stay together, well be
They have a pool of young players who can only continue to grow.
Che Bunce and his coaching team have made sure the team was always competitive
Both times that we have played them they have battled, taking us very close in Ngaruawahia.
Unfortunately the Wellington Phoenix's run came to end last weekend.
I only managed to watch a bit of the game before slipping off to bed for an
early start to get down to Hawkes Bay.
I did manage to see 'That Goal' though. I think in that kind of situation the referee must take into account the players reaction.
A distinction can be made between a whole hearted sense of injustice (ie handball) and someone who is merely trying to save their skin.
Both Shay Given and Liam Reddy’s reactions were immediate.
It was obvious that they hadn't had time to make up an excuse or construct and argument.
It was handball, they saw it and protested straight away.
Another argument for a referral system in football, even if it is only one 'challenge' a game.
As a result of there being no system in place two teams are disadvantaged.
The Republic of Ireland didn't get a chance to go to extra time and are not going to
the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the Phoenix aren't playing Melbourne in the final.
You can argue that the Phoenix still would've lost 3-2 had the goal
To do so would be to deny that football is a game of momentum.
Sydney FC got a massive break and capitalised as a result of scoring 'That Goal'.
When you are you are on the up and confident, football is a completely different game than when you are level and trying not to give anything away.
The mentality is different and the match plays differently as a result.
Yours in football,
Auckland City FC