Flying Kiwis will keep you up to date on the endeavours of New Zealand sports folk overseas. Not the battlers, mind you, but the genuine overlooked and underappreciated superstars that for some ridiculous reason don’t get a look in on local media.
Chris Wood – Leicester City (English Championship)
Chris Wood returned to the pitch for Leicester against Bournemouth, coming off the bench as a 52nd minute sub for David Nugent. Nuge had opened the scoring early on, though the score was tied at 1 when he limped off early in the second half. Wood may be called upon more this upcoming week, especially if Nugent is hurt badly, and his cameo here will have done a lot to earn his coaches confidences. His aerial game was as good as expected, plus Woody made a couple of clever passes going forward. After City striker Jamie Vardy had a penalty shout rejected, it was Wood that put through a lovely ball to Vardy for what would ultimately be the winning goal (though the keeper should really have had it). When Elliott Ward was sent off for the visitors two minutes later, the result was barely in doubt. Leicester has now won 6 straight home games. They sit 3 points off top in second place.
Up Next: First up they battle Fulham at home in the League Cup (Wed 8.45am) and then a tough game at Watford, 1.15am Sunday morn (NZT)
Tommy Smith – Ipswich Town (English Championship)
Smithy’s hot run of form continued in what turned out to be a very good week for most of our Flying Kiwis. Bolton looked like they might pick up their first home league win of the season when Medo Kamara scored a free-kick, but David McGoldrick equalised in the 73rd minute for a 1-1 draw. It was a tight game, not lacking in chances, though the defences controlled the game for the large part. Smith was strong in the air (a common thread amongst these players – Rojas obviously excluded) and won a team high 4 tackles. He also made 20 clearances, which was a game high. It takes more than a floated cross to get by this man.
Up Next: A Saturday morning game (8.30am) at home to relegation-zoned Barnsley (NZT)
Marco Rojas – VfB Stuttgart (Bundesliga)
You know the story here. You read it every week. Rojas was nowhere to be seen on the Stuttgart team sheet, as he continues to recover from his pre-season foot injury. It’s not fair to say he’ll be straight into the first team either – most people probably don’t realise the step up he’s making from the A-League to the Bundesliga. A spell in the reserves will probably be in order. Anyway, Stuttgart battled away to a 1-1 draw, keeping them 8th on the table. Hopefully we see Marco in time, but at least we know he’s in their plans. Here’s a feature on Rojas on their website.
Up Next: The second hardest fixture in the Bundesliga – a trip to Borussia Dortmund, 8.30am Saturday morning (NZT)
Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)
West Ham & Winston Reid kept another clean sheet, and once again failed to score, this time away to Swansea on a wet, Welsh afternoon. The goalless draw keeps The Hammers down near the bottom of the table, though clear of the relegation zone. Something seriously needs to be done about their lack of attacking threat, but defensively they are as good as any team in the league right now (except maybe Southampton). Reid was one of the best on the park in a typically assured performance. His distribution wasn’t great (which is a common thing, given he’s prone to the hoofing long ball), but he won headers and tackles, he marshalled the back 4 and he just never looks off balance. His off-the-ball composure was crucial in a game where West Ham had only 33% of possession. This was a point gained for West Ham, but they’ll be targeting better results this next, busy week.
Up Next: The Hammers head to Burnley, 8.45 Wednesday morning, for a 4th Round League Cup tie, before they host 14th placed Aston Villa (4am Sunday morning) in the EPL (NZT)