The first week of winter saw a wet, windy day at Centre Park Mangere where the Over 35s took on a mid-table Mangere United side.
The game started with equal opportunities for both sides, Mangere started out playing some nice neat football but didnt really create much early on. Puke on the other hand were rebuilding from last week and determined to make a better effort in a bid to push for number 1 position at the top of the table.
15 minutes into it, some neat exchanges from the Mangere midfield slipped through their most dangerous player (built like Manu Vatuvei and just as strong). Our defence managed to track back with him but elbows everywhere, he was too strong as he burst through and slotted the ball past the despairing dive from Marty Round, 1- 0 Mangere.
The lads pressed on and after a good rebuilding session last Wednedsay night, we started to knock the ball round nicely and believe, we should get something out of this game. Then with a great through ball from Marty Mercer setting away Andy Davey to score a great opportunist strikers goal, rounded the keeper and 1 1.
Puke started sticking to their guns and playing like we believe we can, and with no-one this week destroying the team morale, started to surmount pressure and with a great ball from Pete Clark to find Andy Davey running on towards the by-line and expertly pulling it back for Davey Barnard and with a crisp clean strike slotted it into the bottom left hand corner, 2 1 Puke.
The boys were again believing 3 points are on offer again here and then with a harsh tackle on Davy Barnard 40 yards out, free-kick to Puke. Quick thinking by Marty Mercer, about to set Russell Evans away until told to hold on by his coach, and so he left it. In all honesty it was a free-kick, about Becks range (well maybe just a bit further out than that) and next minute smashed into the top corner from 35 yards, 3 1 Puke.
It was a great effort, we handnt been deterred by going 1 0 down, we were playing well, fighting for everything, there was no sulking and morale was good and then after some unlucky play the ball ricocheted off a Puke defender ended up putting through a Mangere striker, who laid it off to his team mate and as he shot the ball caught a wicked deflection and finished up in the top corner. It doesnt matter how organised or disorganised you are in defence, you cant do much against luck, so 3 2 Puke.
Back into it and some great work from Marty, Russell and Davy in the midfield, it was an enjoyment watching the boys trying their utmost to knock the ball around, much instigated by Marty Mercer having a great game in the centre of the park, putting a foot on the ball and taking the simplest option open to him, this was allowing to start looking like a football team. The other person who was having a blinder was Mark Edwards at left back, every time you had the ball you committed the space, created options for those around you or completed a simple pass and didnt I dont think in the whole game give away possession, brilliant.
This is the fundamentals of football and when 11 players start doing this we will move up a gear and believe you me, it will happen!!
With about 10 minutes to go to half time, what the Manger strikers effort lacked in power, it made up for in direction as it beat our keeper from 12 yards, so into the break all level at 3 3.
Half time team talk was stick to it, we were working hard, playing neat football in patches, probably 1 goal to the greater, would have been a fair reflection but it wasnt so lets put it right.
On came Robbie Leonard and Andy Towsend (stolen from the reserves, or can u steel something that was originally yours, not sure but anyway) to boost the movement and Phil Taylor to solidify the defence.
We started the stronger, Marty Mercer instigating things from the midfield, Russell Evans with plenty of energy, making some good runs and Davy Bernard with his usual effort and creative play. Wasnt long before some good work from Robber Leonard and Andy Davey, set Pete Clark away only to scuff his shot wide.
Then a great ball through set Robbie Leonard away and with a couple of team mates in space inside the box, decided to go it alone and I think the pass may have been the better option, but we got the corner.
Graham had dropped into the centre of midfield and with some nice touches kept the team on top.
John Maclaughlan and Roysa both having good games at the back, but it wasnt all 1 way traffic as a one-off break down the left by the Mangere winger, managed to find his midfield teammate, Manu Vatuvei look alike and thumped it into the bottom corner, 4 3 Mangere.
Looking like this game may get away from us, we were determined not to let that happen, Marty Mercer sprinted through to a superb through-ball from Robbie Leonard, rounded the keeper and slotted home 4 4.
With a minute to go some good build up work from Puke and after the Mangere defence failed to clear, the ball rebounded to Andy Townsend in a great position and hit it with venomous power to skim the top of the crossbar, unlucky Andy and thats how if finished.
From a coaches perspective, much better than last week, Mangere werent a bad side and will take points off top sides. We grouped together well werent demoralised when we were behind and believed in ourselves. I thought Mark Edwards was great today, did exactly what we practiced on Wednesday, but player of the day goes to Marty Mercer, instigated the option of trying to play football at every opportunity, kept it simple, some great tackling and a superb goal, well done mate!
POD: Marty Mercer
Goals: Andy Davey, Dave Bernard, Jon Waller and Marty Mercer.
Goal Scorers to date: J Waller 7, Andy Davey 4, Robbie Leonard 3, Pete Clark 2, Graham Spinks 1 , John Mclaughlan 1, Nick Rowe 1, Dave Bernard 1 and Marty Mercer 1.
Training 6.30 Wednesday and next week we are away to take on Onehunga Mangere 2.45 pm kick off