Saturday Night Football



 Lower Hutt City 2 Stop Out 2
Central League
Fraser Park
Saturday 21st May 2016, 7:30pm KO
Attendance about 120

Saturday night football? While Saturday is THE football day, Saturday night isn't. 7:30pm on a Saturday night is when you'd be in the club rooms or the pub, trying to work out what game your mate was at as they use a mixture of pint glasses, car keys and beer bottles to demonstrate why it was that you lost!

But times are changing and on a day when in the past most football would have been called off, they don't have to now thanks to the wonders of artificial turf. There are compromises though, as it's not just used by football, Rugby uses it as well, and the idea at Fraser Park is that the codes use it week about, which is fine until you get 2 home games in a row as Lower Hutt City did, hence the reason for a 7:30pm kick off.

From a personal point of view it was great as I was working until 5 on Saturday, so it meant I didn't have to hightail it from Upper Hutt to Wakefield Park for the 5:45pm game between Olympic & Miramar (although it sounds like I missed a good one there 4-3 to Miramar). I was able to go to the pub have a pre-match pint and get to the game well on time.

This was a derby game but then the Hutt Valley has 8 clubs so every time they play each other it could be called a derby. Although Lower Hutt City – Stop Out has a bit of an edge to it. Stop Out were the National League club (1970-80), finishing 2nd in 1977, then there was the miracle of Hutt Valley United (Stop Out, Lower Hutt & Petone combined) who competed in the National League from 1987-92 and when that finished it was Lower Hutt City rather than Stop Out who ended up as the top club entering the Superclub and then the National League in 1997-98. These days it is a resurgent Stop Out who are laying claim to be the top club in the Hutt Valley. Going into this game they were 3rd in the league while Lower Hutt were 3rd from bottom.
Looking worse than it is LHC player jumps over Stop Out Player

In the 1st half Stop Out enjoyed slightly more of the possession but weren't really getting close to the Lower Hutt goal and in the 37th minute when Lower Hutt put together a move that started midway in their half and ended with a nicely taken goal (and I need to apologise to the LHC player as I missed who it was and as I found out later I seemed to be the only one that was tweeting on the game so Ultimate NZ Soccer doesn't have the player named and more surprisingly neither does Capital Football!).

It was a deserved goal for Lower Hutt, who were playing well and matching the more experienced Stop Out team. Then just before half time, Stop Out's Steven Gulley obviously decided that his forwards weren't going to get near the Lower Hutt goal and seeing the keeper of his line hit a speculative (although I'm sure he'll claim he meant it) shot from 35 meters out and it worked making the score 1-1 going into half time.

It took just 2 minutes in the second half for Lower Hutt to regain the lead with a long diagonal cross ball finding Jarred Mitchell who, rather too easily, got past his marker to slot it home. This put Stop Out on the back foot and it was clear they were missing the influence of Andrew Abba who was sitting out a suspension. But then they till have other quality players and it was Futsal White Micky Malivuk utilising his indoor skills to beat 2 players and score the equaliser in the 63rd minute.
NZ Futsal White & Stop Out's Micky Malivuk

Now the game got interesting, Stop Out sensed that Lower Hutt were on the back foot and they could win it and really started to put the pressure on and they must have thought they had it won when Luis Corrales was bought down in the box in the 83rd minute but the resulting penalty was well saved by the Lower Hutt keeper.

Still though Stop Out were pressing and putting the pressure on, Lower Hutt were starting to panic and were trying to slow play down and seemed to be happy to play for a draw. Stop Out were keener to get the ball and try and get a winner, and this cost Luke Grindlay when his eagerness to get the ball took him through Lower Hutt's German defender, Tobias Kratt, and earned himself a straight red card.

The last few minutes were played at a frantic pace and Lower Hutt City would have been relived when the final whistle blew and they came away with a point, while Stop Out must have been disappointed and seen this as 2 points dropped.

As usual I took some photos but I am still getting used to night photography so just the ones on here today

Martin Packer (SO) steps over LHC player