Saturday 26th May, 2018
 Maidstone Park, Upper Hutt
Attendance 50 or so
Lucy Jones (WU) drags the ball away from Kennedy Bryant (UHC) The JourneyFan

I heard talk of a big game on this weekend, so was a bit surprised when I was told it was kicking off at 6:45am, Sunday and the Four Kings pub was the place to see it. Something to do with a couple of teams in Europe apparently. Maybe it's just me but when a big game this weekend was mentioned to me I thought of the W-League clash between last years champions, Upper Hutt City and their nemesis, Wellington United!

These two clubs have been at the top of Wellington football for the last few years and the games are usually fairly intensely fought battles, although that has started to change a bit in the last couple of years, last season Upper Hutt City won all four meetings on their way to winning the league and Kelly Cup, including a 7-0 and 5-1 victory. This season it's Wellington United recording the big wins, beating Upper Hutt 4-0 in the first game of the season.

Wellington United were without coach Guillermo Schiltenwolf, who had copped a four game ban for telling a referee what he thought of a decision made in the reserves game last sunday. They did have two significant players returning, Jamye Lee Hunter is back from US University of Evansville for the holidays, while Michaela Robertson was back down from the Football Ferns Development Program in Auckland.
The Quality Upper Hutt City Bench, Emma Main, Sarah Gregorius and Becky Stewart The JourneyFan

Since last seasons Championship win, Upper Hutt City have lost coach Wendi Henderson to retirement, a couple of players, Dani Turton to Wairarapa, Katie & Zoe Barrott to Waterside Karori, oh and a whole reserve team as many of last years players went to University in other NZ cities. Goalkeeper Cushla Litchwark took over the coaching duties with assistant from club stalwart, Phil Paterson. They may be struggling for depth but they still started the game with a very strong and talented bench including, Football Fern Sarah Gregorius and U20 international, Emma Main. While at first I thought this could be a master tactical plan from Upper Hutt, it transpired that Gregorius was off to a Ferns training camp after the game so was being rested due to that, while it was Emma Main's first game back for a while, hence the reason she was starting on the bench.

While Upper Hutt's bench looked impressive, it was Wellington United's attack that was impressive, in the four strikers \ attacking midfielders, MIcky & Jemma Robertson, Jayme Lee Hunter and Dani Ohlsson they had an astounding 149 goals in 225 appearances between then going into this game.

And attack they did, from the start, utilising the pace of MIcky Robertson and Dani Ohlsson on the wings. Upper Hutt City would have liked to said they played an effective offside trap, but given it was only Micky Robertson that was continually being called offside, it was more likely due to her pace and getting ahead of the defence too quickly! When she did manage to stay onside she caused all sorts of problems for Upper Hutt and it was only some good keeping from Litchwark that kept the scores level until the 29th minute. Dani Ohlsson fired in a shot which Litchwark could only parry in to the path of Micky Robertson and it was 1-0.

The first Wellington United goal scored by Michaela Robertson The JourneyFan

Shortly after she beat the offside again and crossed the ball into the middle and it was met by her sister, Jemma, to tap in for her eighth goal of the season. Then the floodgates opened and two almost identical runs and crosses saw first Jayme Lee Hunter scoring and then Dani Ohlsson got in on the act just on the stroke of half time to give Wellington United a commanding 4-0 lead. 

Surprisingly Upper Hutt City made no changes at half time and seemed to be resigned to losing the game and concentrating on keeping the score down, If this was the plan they did a decent job of it as Wellington United only got one more and that was in the dying minutes of the game. It wasn't that they didn't have chances, in fact in the entire game they had 25 shots to Upper Hutt City's three! Litchwark had a good game and made some good saves, while the defence worked hard. For Wellington United it wasn't just all about the attackers, their defence was superb and gave Upper Hutt no time at all on the ball, showing why they've only conceded one goal all season. Asha Strom was her usual reliable self, new recruit Rosie Wild just gets better every time I see her play and most impressive was Lucy Jones who is developing into very tough player to beat.

Upper Hutt City are going through a rebuilding phase and despite still having a squad of talented players, they will need to look at recruiting more depth if they are wanting to keep up with the Wellington United juggernaut.