Stop Out v Samoa
Saturday 26th March 2016
Attendance about 80
It's International week and I managed to find an International game in New Zealand to go to!
Despite NZ Football's best efforts at not competing in International Football (3 games last year, last home game May 2014 - a 0-0 draw with South Africa), and instead of my usual depression and attempts to avoid Facebook as it's full of my Scottish pal's enjoying another away match adventure in Prague, I went to Hutt Park to see Stop Out v Samoa!
The head coach of Samoa is Scott Easthope, an ex Stop Out player & coach and he has used his connections to organise a mini tour of NZ (well Wellington really), with games against Lower Hutt City, Stop Out & Western Suburbs.
I arrived at the scenic Hutt Park, home of Stop Out about 15 minutes before kick off and was initially unsure if I had got the time or date right. The ground is an open ground with no stands there were a few people hanging around but it didn't seem like any fixture was about to take place, never mind an International one! But then I heard what sounded like a haka from the changing room and some of the ball boys commented that that must be the Samoans and shortly after the two teams and referees emerged.
|Stop Out & Samoa take the field|
As it was a friendly between a team in pre-season and an international team described by their coach as a training squad, there was no program or team cards. I did recognise a couple of the Stop Out team from last season but I'm hopeless with names so apologise but will have to refer to players by the numbers they were wearing (although Samoa did have 2 number 20's, but one was the goalkeeper)
There was a reasonable wind which Stop Out had behind them in the first half and the game was played in the Samoan's half. It looked as if Stop Out would dominate and they had most of the ball, but about the 15th minute, Samoa finally got into the Stop Out half and a nice through pass found the very quick number 10 who gave Samoa the lead. He had a few more breaks during the half but Stop Out played the offside trap well, maybe if the number 10 had hung back a couple of steps he could have got another couple of goals, as he definitely had the pace to beat the defenders.
|Stop Out hit the post|
Stop Out continued to have the majority of the possession but found it very difficult to break down a well organised Samoan defence. They did hit the post then a left wing cross left the keeper scrambling to gather the ball and it fell to an unmarked Stop Out player who slotted it home.
Despite Stop Out's dominance of possession and territory the 1-1 score at half time was a fair reflection of the game.
The 2nd half was more of the same, the game being played in the middle of the park but with plenty of forages forward from both teams. Samoa got a corner and used the wind effectively with the number 10 again hammering a shot in from just outside the penalty area out to give Samoa a 2-1 lead.
|Samoa's number 10 gives Samoa a 2-1 lead|
Stop Out managed a couple of good chances and only some desperate goalkeeping stopped them from equalising. While the game was a “friendly” tempers did boil over after a couple of disputed tackles by the Samoan number 10. The ref sensibly suggesting to Samoa that the player be subbed.
In all it was an entertaining game and a lot better than I had been expecting. I had heard that Samoa had lost their first game to Lower Hutt City 7-0 and thought maybe this game could be similar.
It was a good run out for both teams, Stop Out looked good in possession but couldn't find the goals, maybe this will change when Luis Corrales arrives after Team Wellington's Oceania Champions League campaign. Samoa looked like a well organised team and games like this can only help improve them.
So well done to Samoa, who have now organised more games in NZ in a week than NZF has managed in the last 3 years!
Samoa have one more game left on this mini tour against Western Suburbs on Tuesday 29th March at the Hospital Ground in Porirua, Kick off 6pm, get along you should get an entertaining game of football.
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