Ultra Central League
Hutt Park, Lower Hutt
Saturday 9th June, 2018
Attendance :  around about 100 and at least 3 dogs

Stop Out's Luis Corrales concentrates on the ball despite close attention from Lower Hutt City defenders The JourneyFan

Since Stop Out won promotion back into the Central League in 2015, the result of their home game against Lower Hutt City has always been 2-1. In 2015 & 16 it was Lower Hutt that proved victorious, 2017 it was Stop Out and this year proved to be the same.

This was my first visit to Stop Out this season, although I had seen them hammer Wellington Olympic 7-2 at Wakefield Park. The last couple of seasons have seen Stop Out start well and be in or around the top of the table, then when the National League ended, they would usually get a couple of players from Team Wellington, and whether or not this was related, they would have a mid season collapse, before recovering but ultimately finishing around 4th or 5th in the table. That hasn't happened this season, the only player they got from Team Wellington was Justin Gulley, who was away in India with the All Whites anyway. 

Stop Out coach Scott Easthope
Going into this game Stop Out were riding high in second place with seven wins, one draw and only two losses. Looking at the playing squad there weren't too many changes from last season. a couple of returnees, Luis Corrales from Olympic, Sam Pickering and Paora Porter from Petone. They had lost Martin Packer to Capital Premier side North Wellington, but the most significant change had been in the coaching, Scott Easthope coming into replace Chris Sambrooke, who stepped down due to work commitments. Although these changed and Sambrooke is back as the assistant coach.

Lower Hutt CIty had a decent start to the season, but were well into a bad run having lost four in a row going into this game. The club continues to maintain it's focus on youth development and have a pretty reasonable record in recent years several players coming through and moving on to Team Wellington. Their big signing this season was Wellington Phoenix keeper, Keegan Smith (who is on a youth contract so can play in this league). Coach Steve Coleman has also taken on a role at the Phoenix Academy, which has been questioned by some as the Phoenix academy is in partnership with Wellington United in the same league.

But today was about a local derby, the 30th meeting of these clubs in the league and Chatham Cup since 1969 and despite Stop Out having won 14 of the previous encounters to Lower Hutt City's nine, (six draws), it is Lower Hutt who have scored more goals 47 to Stop Out's 41.

It took just eight minutes for Stop Out to work towards reducing that deficit, when Luis Corrales smashed in a rebounding shot for his seventh goal of the season and celebrated with a shout that was likely to attract the geese from the nearby Hutt RIver, followed by a Usain Bolt pose! Brilliant stuff!

Luis Corrales celebrates his goal The JourneyFan

It looked a bit like the floodgates would open as Lower Hutt were struggling to deal with the speed of Corrales, but they managed to settle down and keep in relatively under control and defended quite well from their point of view. From a spectators point of view it wasn't a great watch and while there were a few clashes between players there wasn't anything really significant to note in the rest of the first half.

The second half continued much the same, Stop Out dominating the possession, but finding the Lower Hutt defence hard to break down, when they did manage it and Corrales had broken through and put the ball in the back of the net, they were called back for a free kick on the edge of the area. While it was a foul and referee, Robert Swinney, did blow the whistle just before Corrales hit his shot, it could be used as a classic example of when to allow advantage.

Nothing came of the free kick, but not long after Jerram Tuck, decided that he should keep up with Corrales in the golden boot race and netted his seventh of the season. His celebration wasn't quite as ostentatious as Corrales', but spell check did change his name to Jerry's Tucker when it was tweeted out!

Lower Hutt City's Sam Johnson nets from the spot The JourneyFan

There were only about 10 minutes left and Stop Out were looking as if they'd ride it out, that was until Lower Hutt attacked and despite the danger being averted,one of their defenders handled the ball as it was heading out of the penalty area. Lower Hutt's Sam Johnson sent James McPeake the wrong way and it looked as if we'd have a tense last few minutes......but we didn't and the most interesting thing to happen in that time was discussions about the speed of the referee's watch who seemed to want the game to just keep on going.

So for the fourth year in a row this game ended 2-1, this time to Stop Out, the result also put them top of the table, albeit for one night, as Napier City Rovers played Miramar Rangers on the Sunday and won 3-1.