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)
Woody started twice this week, and scored in each game. His goal on the weekend was one to savour for internet junkies. Pure comedic football. But more on that in a sec. First off, Wood got the gig midweek against Fulham in the league cup. He made it count, scoring late in the first half to give Leicester a 2-1 lead. They added to that lead early in the second, but Fulham came back strong to equalise. Wood was subbed off immediately after the equaliser, as one half of a double substitution, and it paid off as the Foxes scored the winner almost immediately for a famous 4-3 win. Next up in the League Cup: Manchester City at home. Quarter Finals are to be played in the third week of December.
So after Wood’s decent performance midweek, he got the start in place of Jamie Vardy against Watford, and made a quick impact. Running in behind the defensive line to intercept a back pass, he was comfortably beaten to it by the keeper, and slowed to a walk as he let the Watford GK (Manuel Almunia – formerly of Arsenal) make his clearance. Only that clearance rocketed into Wood’s face, and then into the back of the net. A ‘Falcon’ of the highest order. Leicester doubled their lead early in the second half through winger Anthony Knockaert, who famously missed a crucial penalty in the playoffs against Watford last season. Lloyd Dyer made it 3-0 late on. Wood played an impressive 66 minutes. The goal was his 5th of the season, but 1st in the league. With Burnley held to a draw, LCFC is now just one point off top, and with their sights set firmly on automatic promotion.
Up Next: The Foxes host former European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, 4am Sunday morn (NZT)
Tommy Smith – Ipswich Town (English Championship)
Another solid game from Tommy, who helped his side to a 1-1 draw against Barnsley. This was probably one that the Trotters expected to win, and for a while it looked like they would, but Jim O’Brien scored a 70th minute equaliser making it 5 games without a win for Mick McCarthy’s lads. In the end, they were left clinging to a point, as Smith and fellow CB Christophe Berra defended strongly. Smith played most of the game with a bandaged head after an early clash, and it was he who nearly opened the scoring with a strong header. Highly rated Ipswich fullback Aaron Cresswell was sent off after the final whistle for abusive language directed at an official.
Up Next: 4am Sunday at 4th placed Blackpool (NZT)
Marco Rojas – VfB Stuttgart (Bundesliga)
Familiar story. For Marco at least. He was nowhere to be seen as Stuttgart was pummelled by last season’s Champions League runners up Borussia Dortmund 6-1. If Marco wanted another example of just what a big step up this is for him, he sure got it. Bobby Lewandowski was outstanding, scoring a hatrick and being generally unstoppable. Interestingly, Dortmund’s next game is against EPL leaders Arsenal (what a weird thing to say!) in the Champions League. Definitely one to set the alarm for.
Up Next: Next Monday morning, 5.30am away to Freiburg (NZT)
Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)
Winnie was rested for the midweek Capital One Cup game, amidst rumours of a January transfer to Arsenal. The Hammers took care of Championship leaders Burnley 3-0, and will play Tottenham in the quarter finals. Reid was back for the league clash with Aston Villa, and he played a dominant role in defence, though West Ham’s anaemic forward line saw them settle their fourth 0-0 draw of the league season. Reid did well to nullify Villa’s Christian Benteke, but the way things are going for the Hammers, the less said about them the better.
Up Next: A trip to Norwich on Sunday morning, 6.30am (NZT)