It’s hard to know what to write about yesterday’s Ngaruawahia United versus Forrest Hill Milford NRFL Division 1 match. It was a frustrating watch, both for a neutral like myself and, I’m sure, the home fans. It’s fair to say the way the match played out pretty much wasn’t what I had hoped for.
I arrived at Centennial Park wanting to see goals. And it started so promisingly for Ngaruawahia as well. Federico Marquez finished off a precise passing move early on giving the Narra fans the early goal they craved. It was a nicely constructed piece of work that illustrated, quite obviously, what Narra would need to do to break down a compact Forrest Hill side. But it was a rare moment of quality in what would be a long, but ultimately rewarding, afternoon for the home fans.
The visitors found themselves level soon enough after a nice piece of opportunism. One of their midfielders spotted Ngaruawahia goalie, Danyon Drake, well off his line and lobbed the ball home from the edge of the centre circle. Drake seemed to spend most of the afternoon outside his eighteen yard box, admittedly because the ball was usually down the other end, and he always seemed a candidate to be caught out like that. Thankfully for him the visitors never really had another opportunity to try their luck.
The remainder of the first half was not pretty to watch. The barely functional Ngaruawahia midfield made it easy for the visitors to snuff them out. Steve Morrison was their best performer but was forced to cover too much ground and was pushed into playing a little deeper than his team required. His team mates looked tired and the zip shown when they had scored their goal was long since gone.
Marquez ploughed a lone furrow up front. For such a small guy he is surprising good in the air, but his team could never get anyone consistently close enough to him to profit from his knock downs and won headers. Ngaruawahia’s back four did a good job all afternoon. The centre halves, Hughwyn Habib and John Irving, were both very good. Irving was pushed further forward in the second half and provided the midfield energy and support that had been lacking before the break.
Forrest Hill’s keeper and defence pulled off an excellent triple save just after the start of a second half bossed the hosts. Narra pressed and probed and forced corner after corner but they were fended off by a well organised and committed Forrest Hill side. A silly red card left the visitors down to ten for the last fifteen minutes or so. One of their players executed a lazy, half hearted kick-out in one of those ‘if you’re going to get sent off make sure it’s worth it’ moments and was sent on his way.
But it looked like the visitors would hold on. Their keeper had a good afternoon and probably didn’t deserve to have Morrison waltz in all alone and bury the winner almost five minutes into added time at the end of the game. You could argue it was harsh on Forrest Hill to lose like that and you could also argue Ngaruawahia deserved the win as they’d played the more enterprising football. You could argue about pretty much anything you like I guess, but it wouldn’t change the fact Ngaruawahia had found a way to win 2-1 and keep themselves in touch, barely, with the promotion spots.
Frustratingly, I made a massive blunder by arriving with a barely charged camera battery and no back-up. So, unfortunately, I don’t have any photos this week, nor will there be a One Minute At… movie to look at. You can visit Ngaruawahia’s website for some excellent pics and you’ll have to come back later in the season for the movie.