Flying Kiwis – February 13

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Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

The man scores goals, it’s what he does. Chris Wood went a fair while this season struggling to lock down a regular starting spot and struggling for that because the goals weren’t flowing but both issues have been well and truly taken care of lately. Burnley are winning games and The Woodsman is helping it happen.

Since losing 5-1 at home to Everton on Boxing Day, pretty much the low point of the season, Burnley have gone undefeated in seven Premier League games. They did get pumped 5-0 by Man City in the FA Cup in the middle of that but, hey, that’s still better than Chelsea did against City on the weekend. They beat West Ham 2-0 and Chris Wood scored. They beat Huddersfield 2-1 and Chris Wood scored. They beat Barnsley in the FA Cup 1-0 and Chris Wood scored. They then beat Fulham 2-1 and Chris Wood didn’t score. They drew 0-0 with Watford and Chris Wood had a goal unfairly ruled out at the end for offside. Then the City game. Next they drew 2-2 away to Man United and Chris Wood scored. Following that a 1-1 draw with Southampton. This week they played Brighton and won 3-1 and Chris Wood scored… twice. Add it all up.

Funny thing is that Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes played together at Brighton back in the day and now here they were starting against each other and shredding their old club to pieces. Though safe to say there was some luck involved along the way.

Chris Wood: “We get on very well. We were at Brighton together and there’s where the relationship started. We have just carried that through. We seem to have a good bond together and play up top very nicely and it was nice we were both on the score sheet.”

Tom Heaton had to make a couple early saves to keep things level, his stop off Pascal Gross was a stunner. Then somehow Ash Barnes missed a bit of a sitter when Dwight McNeil’s cross was deflected off the crossbar by defender Shane Duffy then bounced right on the noggin of Barnes who put it over from about two meters out. Then another stunner save from Tom Heaton. Funky old game this one. Shows both teams were a little desperate.

Then the man of the hour struck. 26th minute of the contest and Ben Mee picked off a loose pass and hoofed it forwards to Barnes on the left wing, who took it down fantastically on his chest and then just turned and swung it towards his mate Woody in the middle. The pass was magical but Chris Wood’s bit was helped immensely when Lewis Dunk slipped over and gave him nobody but the keeper to beat… which he did. Thumping it past Aussie Mat Ryan, get that into ya!

The game went back and forth some more, Heaton continuing to make top saves while Jeff Hendrick ended the first half with a clearance off his own line. Then Brighton picked up the pace some more to start the second, only for Burnley to withstand them and then Chris Wood did it again in the 62nd min. Dwight McNeil skipped through a defender or two then slid in Wood and he whipped it home first time to make it 2-0. Ryan got a hand to it but couldn’t stop it. Two goals in the game, only the second brace of his Premier League career after coming off the bench to score two against West Ham last year. Not the worst way to celebrate his 50th PL game for Burnley, aye? (It’s 59 Premier League games all up for him, with 17 goals).

Then came the drama. You thought the other stuff was drama, that was only the appetiser. Jeff Hendrick blatantly handballed in his own box and somehow the ref and his assistants all missed it, allowing play to continue. Burnley hit the counter attack button and Barnes got through one on one only to be taken out by Ryan as he tried to go round him. The ball fell for Wood who somehow missed from here…

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… but the ref was already getting ready to award the penalty. Not sure if advantage would have applied or not, it should have, so that might well have been a wasted opportunity for a hat-trick then. And if you thought that no worries he’d just take the penalty instead then think again because after going 68 games without a penalty in the Premier League Burnley have now been given two in two games and after Barnesy scored one last game with Wood having already been substituted, he stepped up to take it again versus Brighton and he dutifully made it 3-0. Brighton did pull one back through Shane Duffy late on to make it 3-1 but there was to be no comeback. Three more precious points for Burnley.

More Woodsman: “It was a good performance. Coming here is always tough but we showed we can fight and grind it out. They put us under a lot of pressure at times, but it’s a big win at this stage of the season. It’s going to be a long end to the season and a tough one. We have to keep fighting and we need to keep pushing on. It’s back to the Burnley we should be and we need to keep that going.”

Oddly Sean Dyche didn’t make a single sub in that game, though the lads have plenty of time to rest since it’s an FA Cup weekend next time, so the Clarets are off until two weeks’ time when they host Tottenham Hotspur. Meanwhile here’s Woody just being a genuinely good bastard…

Up Next: Burnley vs Spurs, 1.30am on Sunday 24 Feb (NZT)

Ali Riley – Chelsea FC (English Super League)

Massive week of games, a League Cup quarter-final and a crucial league game… both against Manchester City. First was the Cup game on Thursday morning and it could’ve gone better. Seven changes from the team that beat Everton also meant a shift in formation with a back three for the first time this season. Risky for Chelsea in such a big game but also useful for Ali Riley who’s a perfect left wingback. Sure enough Ali Riley was picked to start and contributed to a pretty strong first half from the Blues but they weren’t able to put their chances away – one of the best being a delivery into the box from Riley after a sharp turn to create the space to cross and she picked out Beth England who somehow put her header wide.

It proved crucial because Chelsea weren’t able to keep it up in the second half while City shifted into high gear. Nikita Parris scored from the penalty spot soon after the second half began and that led to a change in formation in the 64th min from Chelsea, reverting to their usual shape and sacrificing Ali Riley in the process. But it wasn’t enough. Parris got a second goal in the last ten minutes and Man City won it 2-0, eliminating Chelsea from the competition. It wasn’t likely anyway but no quadruple on the cards for CFC, sorry.

Ali Riley was then an unused sub on the weekend as the same two sides clashed and 25 minutes into it Manchester City were 2-0 thanks to goals from Tessa Wullaert and Georgia Stanway. Bit of a disaster as defeat here would all but end their chances of defending their league title. So fair play to the lasses then, coming out in the second half and stringing a masterclass together. Ji So-Yun scored a double including the equaliser with only a minute remaining to salvage a 2-2 draw and ensure the title race has plenty more twists remaining. Not quite the win they really wanted but it keeps them in it, six points behind City with five games left (Arsenal are two behind with two games in hand).

Up Next: Monday at 3am, Chelsea vs Arsenal, FA Cup Fifth Round (NZT)

Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish SuperLig)

Clearly a better result than last week then, Tyler Boyd getting the pecks out for a team photo following a 3-0 win at home against Kasimpasa. Better than most weeks, the side hadn’t won for seven games previously. This was Boyd’s second game for the club and for the second time he played ninety minutes. Not only that but he was jinking and jiving and setting up goals along the way. Dever Orgill, Hadi Sacko and Ilhan Parlak got the goals. Boyd set up two of them. Chur.

Up Next: Saturday at 11.30pm away to Akhisar (NZT)

Jeremy Brockie – Mamelodi Sundowns (South African Premier Soccer League)

Soccer Laduma: “After joining Masandawana on January 15, 2018, it has been a tough ride for the Kiwi striker. It took him until the 7th of November to break his duck for the club, netting in the league against Free State Stars. He has since scored home and away in the CAF Champions League preliminary rounds against Leones Vegetarianos and appears to have been credited by CAF with a goal against Al Ahly Benghazi, despite his shot going wide of goal before being deflected in.

At this stage, Brockie has a goal every eight appearances in a Sundowns shirt, or every 4.76 games in terms of ninety minutes per game being used (minutes per goal divided by ninety minutes). Coach Pitso Mosimane and assistant coach Manqobe Mngqithi have spoken at length about Brockie struggling to adjust to the playing style at Downs. Considering that he had excelled at SuperSport United in a team who scored the vast majority of their goals from transitions or counter attacks, it is no surprise that Brockie has struggled to adjust to a possession-based side which often faces teams who play very defensively.”

Just a bit of context for you there with Emiliano Tade joining the club. But it looks like everyone’s all mates so don’t worry.

Up Next: Wednesday 5am away to ASEC, CAF Champions League (NZT)

Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)

Billy T: “There’s going to be competition. Everyone’s fighting for their positions in the XI… Having Claude [Dielna] in is another great, experienced player. I can also look at him and ask him questions on how I can improve in my game, in situations that are tougher areas for a centre back. It’s a competition but I’m still young. I’m 23 years old, and I’ve got a lot more to learn in my game… That’s why I have to be prepared for whenever I go in and show them what I’ve got.”

Back at it for 2019 preseason, Bill Tuiloma is obviously looking to build on a real breakthrough season last campaign, where he established himself as a useful defensive option off the bench and filled in capably as a starter on many occasions – not the least of which being in the playoffs when Larrys Mabiala was injured. The Timbers took it all the way to the MLS Final but fell comfortably to Atlanta United with Tui on the bench. Lots to rate from all that, lots of room to go from strength to strength.

Since then the Timbers have released experienced English import Liam Ridgewell, replacing him with that Claude Dielna fella, who is likely to be a straight replacement in the starting eleven. Leaving Tui scrapping with mates like Julio Cascante for the Next Man Up spot. Or even potentially a starting gig if he really bosses it.

Timbers gaffer Gio Savarese: “The four of them [Dielna, Mabiala, Tui & Cascante] are competing to try to make sure they stay steady. I think it’s four quality players that are going to be chasing every practice for that spot.”

Note that Dielna, who is 31 years old, has only been signed on a one year contract so that suggests that they’re pretty invested in Tuiloma or Cascante taking over long term after another year of consolidating what they’ve been doing. It’s all healthy squad depth, really. Everyone’s gonna get their chances over a long season.

The Timbers had been in Costa Rica for a couple friendlies and a training camp, with Tui playing the second half of both games, and are now over in Tuscon, Arizona to continue upon the good work.

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Up Next: Preseason games and all that, they’ve already had a couple

Ellis Hare-Reid - Ayr United (Scottish Championship) “Academy graduate and First Team player, Ellis Hare-Reid has been named in New Zealand’s Under 20’s training camp. The camp is being held in Auckland this week as they continue preparation for the FIFA U20s World Cup in Poland later this year. Ellis started his trip back to New Zealand last Thursday and will return this weekend. Ellis, who was born in Aberdeen, spent much of his younger days growing up in New Zealand, after moving there when he was eight. He is therefore eligible to play for New Zealand and Scotland. Ellis joined the Academy in September 2017 and signed a full-time contract with Ayr United in the summer of 2018. Ellis also helps coach the U12s age group at the Academy.”

Hare-Reid was one of a handful of foreign-based players included in this U20s camp, which is designed to get the coaches a good look at players who haven’t yet been included in official squads or camps, so that as many players as possible get to stake a claim for the U20 World Cup. Most folks are from Premiership or NYL teams in Aotearoa but there are a couple based in Australia and a few beyond. Alex Grieve and Drew Farnsworth are included from American colleges. Nik Bugarcic is a midfielder for Louletano DC in the third tier at Portugal. And Luca Scimia of course is rising up the ranks in Italy, most recently Alma Juventus Fano 1906 in Serie C – where he was on loan from Pescaro – but it’s understood he’s been recalled from that loan as he wasn’t playing enough. He’s already scored for the Pescara youth team since returning. Oh and there’s a fella called Thomas Rimbault who is on the books with Vancouver Whitecaps.

Up Next: Impress the local folks

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

First proper game back from the break and Marco Rojas got ninety minutes on his club debut in Denmark. But two first half goals were the difference as the Sondies lost 2-0 away to Vejle BK. It looked absolutely bloody freezing too with the rain falling down. Rojas played as an inside forward on the left and went close to scoring late in the first half with a driving effort from the edge of the area which was clumsily saved by the keeper. Seems like the better team won though.

Up Next: vs AGF on Saturday at 7am (NZT)

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

Good news! Steven Old scored!

Bad news! Morecambe lost 3-1!

Oldie actually started on the bench, where he’s been for a couple games now since the club brought in Ritchie Sutton in January, though an injury to Sam Lavelle gave him the opportunity to get out there late in the first half… and about the first thing he did was misplace a backpass leading to the second goal for visitors Bury. 2-0 down soon enough became 3-0 down but they fought back against their more fancied opponents. A penalty was missed but tapped in on the rebound by Richie Bennett before Old got his goal with a header from about eight yards out. Weren’t able to find an equaliser however and Morecambe now sit just one point clear of the relegation zone, albeit with a game in hand.

Up Next: Sunday at 4am away to Port Vale (NZT)

Meikayla Moore & Emma Rolston – MSV Duisburg (German Frauen-Bundesliga)

Bit fortunate for Rollo that she got injured around the time of the extended winter break, thus missing a minimal amount of footy. It’s been a bit of a tougher time settling in to Duisburg for Rolston, who has played four league games off the bench with one goal to her name. Compared to her compatriot Meikayla Moore who was basically first choice from day one. But that’s how it goes and with the league about to kick back into it this week, it might be slightly early for Rolston to make her return but full fitness is just around the corner.

Meikayla Moore will need to be at her best on the weekend though, with the side travelling to Werder Bremen, the team currently sitting four points below them and in the relegation zone. A win there and it’ll be daylight for a few more weeks. A loss and they’re right down in the scramble.

Up Next: Away to Werder Bremen on Sunday at 2am (NZT)

Joseph & Jacob Harris - Motala AIF FK (Swedish Division 2)

Pretty cool, this. Joe and Jake Harris. Brothers reunited at a Swedish footy club on the other side of the world. Jake’s just finished up at Waldorf University over in the States, and the coach there reckons the defender has just become the first grad of the school ever to play professional ‘soccer’. As for Joe, you might remember him as the dude who paid his own way back to Aotearoa to trial with the Phoenix in the offseason. He’d already been playing in Sweden prior to that.

Jacob Harris: “I'm excited to get the chance to continue progressing with my football and to play professionally. This has always been the dream and it's nice that my hard work has paid off.”

Edgar Gonzaga, Walford Uni Coach: “This is great for Jacob, he definitely deserved it. Jacob was a big part of our success in 2017 earning Defensive Player of the Year, winning AII-Conference honors, and leading us to the NAIA National Tournament for the first time in school history. We are excited for him to continue to play the sport he loves and wish him all the best. We will be cheering him on from Iowa. We are definitely proud that one of our own is off to live his dream.”

Up Next: New season starts in April

Tyler Lissette & Francis De Vries – IFK Värnamo (Swedish Division 1 Södra)

Speaking of kiwis linking up in the defences of lower league Swedish clubs…

Up Next: Got some Swedish Cup action starting next week, Nörrkoping vs Värnamo at 5am on Monday (NZT)

Greg Draper – The New Saints (Welsh Premier League)

Basically just Greg Draper being Greg Draper then. “No player wants the title ‘Super Sub’, purely and simply because they want to be in the starting line-up and not on the bench, but that’s exactly what Greg has become. Another two goals sees him level at the top of the JD Welsh Premier League table with Bala Town’s Steven Tames. Greg to retain the Golden Boot come the end of the season? Don’t bet against it, he’s looking sharper than ever and the competition is so intense amongst the strikers that Dean Ebbe didn’t even get on the pitch against Newtown.”

Up Next: TNS vs Barry Town, Sunday at 3.30am (NZT)

Clayton Lewis – Scunthorpe United (English League One)

That’s something.

Up Next: Away to Gillingham on Sunday at 4am (NZT)

Winston Reid – West Ham United (English Premier League)

Claret and Hugh: “Forgotten West Ham man Winston Reid injury could resume light training in around three weeks but Manuel Pellegrini doesn’t expect the Kiwi centre back to play this season he told reporters at Rush Green late last week. Winston Reid after went surgery in July last year and is yet to kick a ball in anger this season. The long serving defender suffered a knee injury against Swansea City last season.”

Up Next: ???

Katie Rood – Lewes (English Championship)

Up Next: Crystal Palace vs Lewes, 9am on Friday 22 Feb (NZT)

James McGarry & Michael Woud – Willem II (Dutch Eredivisie)

Watch for the sprinklers, lads.

Up Next: Sunday at 8.45am away to Vitesse (NZT)

Kirsty Yallop – Klepp IL (Norwegian Toppserien)

Hip hip hooray!

Up Next: The new season in Norway’s coming up soon…

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