Home vs. Sacred Heart College – 12th May 2017
- Williams, J. Woods, M. Wood, H. Piper, C. Foulds, B. Kelly ©, R. Wynne, J. Benbow, D Mitten, J. Olivier, L. Wilson
- Scopas, A. Al-Majumei (on for L. Wilson 65th minute) J. Scott (on for D. Mitten 75th minute), E. Tessadri (on for B. Kelly 70th minute), M. Lamont
Half time score – 1-0
Full time score – 1-6
WBHS Scorer – Joe Benbow
A wet, cold and windy evening greeted the First XI as they hosted Sacred Heart College for their first home game of the season, under floodlights at QBE Artificial Turf. With Head Coach, Neil Emblen on international duty with the NZ U20 team, it was Football Ferns Head Coach, Tony Readings who deputised for this fixture.
Knowing that SHC would pose a huge attacking threat, plans had been laid out by Coach Emblen to contain the visitors, play on the counter and look to be assertive in midfield areas.
The match started just as planned, with Westlake seeking to narrow the pitch and apply strength in numbers in central areas. It was a strategy that looked to be proving somewhat successful, as in the 10th minute, the home side took the lead. A hopeful ball into the box, led to a robust challenge on the SHC GK from Joe Benbow. As the GK dropped the ball from his hands, it fell to the feet of Benbow, who turned and shot into a largely unguarded net. Despite some significant (and valid) protestations for a foul by the SHC players, the goal stood and Westlake had found themselves a platform to build upon.
The goal galvanised the side and they fought hard to protect their lead, with some disciplined play, committed defending and intelligent pressing. A few SHC chances of little note came and went, with neither side showing any real quality on the ball. As the first half ended, it was Westlake who were certainly the happier side, heading into the changing rooms.
The side knew that they would be under extreme pressure to hold onto their lead for a further 45 minutes, but were certainly motivated for the task ahead.
As the second half started, it was Sacred Heart who upped the ante and started to exert their influence upon the game. Despite this, Westlake were very much in the game at this stage and only a good save from a Jordan Olivier free kick, stopped them doubling their advantage.
Relentless pressure told in the 55th minute as WBHS failed to clear their lines and a bobbling ball in the box was duly dispatched by the visitors – an ominous sign of things to come.
Westlake barely had time to regroup, when the second SHC goal (a good header from their forward) put them 2-1 ahead. The Auckland and National Champions looked dangerous now with every attack. Unfortunately for Westlake, the Year 10 Centre Forward, Levi Wilson, who had been a tireless runner all night, pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be replaced. This disrupted the Westlake flow somewhat, as his intelligent pressing did unsettle the SHC back four.
Goal number three for Westlake was the real hammer blow that effectively ended this as a contest. A dropped ball by Goalkeeper Bradley Williams, then led to a rash lunge with his feet at the SHC attacker. The referee had no option but to give a penalty, which the SHC forward slotted into the bottom corner. At 3-1, a despondent Westlake side, who had toiled admirably, now looked weary and susceptible to further damage. A blitzkrieg of three well worked goals in the last twenty minutes, saw the score blow out to 6-1. This was a real disappointment and not a score line that Westlake truly deserved to be on the end of.
However, the reality for Westlake, despite their best efforts, hard work and character, was that the better, stronger and more physical side won on the day. Westlake can take heart from their first half performance, particularly the way they stuck to a game plan, but the manner in which SHC attacked at will in the second half, leaves Westlake with much to ponder.
The First XI now visit Macleans College on Friday 19th May, knowing that they have every opportunity to put this disappointment behind them and get back to winning ways