Ultra Central League
Karori Park, Wellington
Saturday 16th June 2018
Attendance : 120-130

Callum McCowatt (WS) holding off a Waterside Karori defender The JourneyFan

The Central League is into its second round and getting towards the business end of the season. A top three of Napier City Rovers, Stop Out and Western Suburbs have opened up a gap and the winner of the league looks very likely to be one of these teams. At the other end of the table Waterside Karori are fighting out a relegation battle with Havelock North Wanderers, Wairarapa United and Lower Hutt City.

These are two of Wellington's oldest clubs, Waterside Karori tracing their roots back to Swifts in 1894 and Western Suburbs beginning in 1906 as Mental Hospital FC. These clubs have met many times but before 1968 records are incomplete (or just not been looked up yet) so for a head to head record I've taken it from 1987 the year that Waterside and Karori Swifts came together to become Waterside Karori and only five years before Porirua Viard United merged with Mana United and reverted back to the Western Suburbs name. Of the 28 league and cup games between the teams since then Waterside Karori have won 11, Western Suburbs 13 and four have been drawn. Waterside Karori hadn't won since a 5-0 victory back in 2001, or in the last eight games against Wests (which sounds slightly better than 17 years!).

Waterside Karori's Kyung Dung Kim The JourneyFan

Going into the game, Western Suburbs were on a hot run of form that has seen them won six of their last seven games (the other was a draw) and score 24 goals and concede only two! That 24 in seven games is two more than Waterside Karori have managed in the league all season. They have picked up just three wins, however one of those was a hard fought 2-1 win over league leaders Napier City Rovers.

This game started of as you'd expect, with Western Suburbs controlling the possession and keeping the ball in the Waterside half. Despite this they didn't create too many opportunities and it was actually Waterside Karori who opened the scoring after 28 minutes, when on their first foray anyway near the Western Suburbs goal, they won a penalty which Ryan Cain easily slotted away. The rest of the half went much the same, Wests dominating possession and territory but not being able to get the ball in the net. Most teams when they dominated this much and hadn't scored would get frustrated and may allow some ill discipline to creep in, but not Wests. They just kept going, showing patience knowing that it would eventually come.

It took just eight minutes of the second half for it to come, Ihaia Delany who hadn't been doing much all game got the equaliser, then he got another but the Waterside keeper batted the ball away at his second attempt and the Assistant Referee said it didn't cross the line much to the chagrin of the Wests players and bench. But it didn't really matter as the next 10 minutes saw Wests take the score to 4-1, before getting a fifth about 10 minutes from time. 
Eli Just..........Phenomenal The JourneyFan

Last season I raved about this team as they strolled to the Central League title, this was the first time I'd seen them play this season and they just keep getting better. Eli Just is looking like he'll be a phenomenal player, he is still quite small but the only way Waterside managed to knock him off the ball was by fouling him and his two goals were well deserved. Callum McCowatt has bulked out a bit and definitely benefited from his National League season with Auckland CIty. New signing from Team Wellington, Nati Hailermariam is developing in to a very exciting player as well and the move to Wests looks as if it'll be one that benefits both the player and the club. But it's not just the individual players its the whole team, they all know the system, know where each other will be, move the ball quickly, keep it of the opposition and despite having an average of only 19, they are patient, knowing it's more a matter of when the goals will come rather than if.

As for Waterside Karori, it is hard to say, they were outclassed by Wests and didn't really get enough of the ball to show what they could do. They did defend well for the first hour, but that doesn't get you points and that's what they are needing.

The league has a break next weekend for the Chatham Cup, and these two teams get to do it all again as Western Suburbs are drawn away to Waterside Karori!