Stocky’s Scribbles: The Mudd Pitt

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A depleted NTC U17 Girls team salvaged a draw against Ashburton Women’s in conditions best suited for farm animals on Sunday at Ashburton Paddock.

Words and images by Craig Stockdale

Having spent most of my childhood in rural Victoria traversing the land, it was little wonder I felt like I had just finished feeding the stock and as I was walking back across the paddock, my gum boots descended into the mud impeding my efforts to shut the gate. My feet were heavy and tired with an additional four inches added to the soles by the black sticky stuff and the hammies were burning simply from the effort to try and walk normally.

This was the epiphany I had when watching the NTC U17 Girls taking on the Ashburton Women in the SportsMart Premier League round five clash at Ashburton Paddock.

Fair enough – you might say that the NTC U17 Girls are privileged playing and training on artificial turf five days a week, but the condition of the center square at Ashburton really was unplayable and in the end, could have been the cause for many serious injuries.

It was indeed the cause for a dull and dreary game marred by yellow cards as both teams became very frustrated by the conditions of play.

Football is a skillful game – sharp passing, explosive movement, perfect ball control and off ball anticipation. Midfielders are pivotal to the game and are the engine room for any team looking to play out of defense or create opportunities up forward – but not today… this was a Mudd Pit!

The entire first half of the game was built around trying to find ways of using the wings and not bring the ball through the mud. As a result, the style of football suffered and as a spectacle, it was not a pretty game at all. It was a battle of strength and determination to hang in and see the game out – a little like last woman standing would win.

NTC U17 Girls did all the scoring on the day – for both teams – scoring Ashburton’s only goal coming from an own goal by the NTC defensive line at the 55 minute mark of the second half in a tangling of bodies in the box. An unfortunate attempt to clear the ball with a header from Melissa Toranto found the back of the net and allowed Ashburton to kick clear one nil.

Not long after this, NTC were pressured defensively by an advancing Ashburton forward on whom a fair tackle was placed by defender Sky Jensen but unfortunately resulted in a yellow card being issued (her second for the day) and the NTC team were now left with ten players and some twenty five minutes of play remaining.

With grit and determination, the NTC Girls withstood the many advances from the Ashburton team with keeper Jamie Brown performing some incredibly acrobatic saves on goal to deny any further additions to the score. Every NTC Girl dropped back to assist each other defend the goal line and it was a real team effort.

Late into the final minutes of play, the NTC made a final push through the tireless efforts of the Taranto twins and it was Adriana this time who managed to elude several tired Ashburton midfielders to pierce the defensive line with a beautiful through ball into the path of the athletic NTC Forward Janna Lawson who made no mistake with the equaliser. 1 all with minutes left in the match.

With the final whistle sounding the end of play, it was a sigh of relief that the game was over, no-one was badly injured and each team walked away, filthy, exhausted and happy with a point each on the day.

Thank goodness there is next week.

Ashburton 1 (Own goal 55’) drew with NTC U17 Girls 1 (Janna Lawson 79’) at Ashburton Park

NTC U17 GIRLS: 1. Jamie BROWN, 2. Giulia SEPE, 3. Jaimee WILLIAMS, 4. Jade FEAKES, 5. Sky JENSEN,      6. Adriana TARANTO, 7. Emily HARBIS, 10. Jess PITTS, 13. Annabel MARTIN, 15. Georgia ALBERTI, 19. Janna LAWSON.

Interchange: 8. Melissa TARANTO 9. Tamara BALMACEDA, 12. Alexi GARCIA, 16. Sabahat REXHEP, 17. Edith FORDYCE-CROKER.

Ashburton Women: 1. Ingrid PHILIPPE, 8.Maria PATRIKIS, 11. Julia SKROWROASKA, 21. Melina AYRES, 10. Bonnie BARNES, 14. Christine PFEIFFER, 7. Jesse KOTSIKAS, 3. Jacinta ROSALES, 12. Wendy LOPEZ, 2. Brittany THOMAS, 6. Zoe CORBETT

Interchange: 9. Natalia CHOROBCYK, 4. Paula LOVELAND, 15. Paige EDWARDS, 18. Rachel JARVIS, 16.Esther YONG

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