Flying Kiwis – February 20

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Erin Nayler – Girondins Bordeaux (French Division 1 Féminine)

Another win and Bordeaux are still frontrunners for third place in France with six more games remaining. At home to FC Metz, Bordeaux were on top from the start, constantly breaking the offside trap, and they finally got a goal to show for it ten minutes before the break when Viviane Asseyi slipped one past the keeper at close range and then Melike Pekel made it 2-0 early in the second half capitalising on a defensive giveaway.

Erin Nayler had to make her first real save a little while later, rushing out to punch clear a dangerous cross. But she had no chance against the follow up shot which came back off her left-hand post. Bordeaux then hit the upright themselves at the other end before Nayler was given a real task as a counter attack led to a penalty kick. Erin dove the wrong way… but the spottie drifted wide of the post from Marie Delie. After that it was routine enough. A 2-0 win and that’s another clean sheet for the tally ahead of the Footy Ferns tour in Aussie. Bring it on.

Up Next: Away to Fleury 91, 2.30am on Monday 11 March

Ali Riley – Chelsea FC (English Super League)

Not the easiest times for Chelsea at the moment, having just come out of a Cup/League double header against Manchester City and now they had to take on Arsenal in the FA Cup. Meh, no problem.

Beth England polished off the first goal after Arsenal had given it away cheaply, assist coming from the typically excellent Erin Cuthbert. Then, following some serious pressure in which Arsenal drew one great save out of the backup keeper and then hit the post, Jonna Andersson whalloped one in from distance, a quality strike that got some average keeping on the way to the net. England eventually scored a third with a great strike having broken through the defence and there you go, 3-0 to Chelsea was the way it ended.

Ali Riley was a second half substitute, introduced towards the end as the third change with defence the priority having already done the damage up top. The win means Chelsea go through to the quarter finals of the FA Cup, still pushing hard for a trophy this season.

Up Next: Chelsea vs Bristol City at 8.30am on Thursday (NZT)

Max Mata - Grasshopper Club Zürich (Swiss Super League)

Nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a kiwi player make the leap to professional footy, particularly when it’s at a club with a fair bit of prestige like this one. GC Zurich, of course, being one of the teams that Wynton Rufer built his legend at back in the day. Mata trialled with the club in the middle of last year and the 18 year old was one of the more notable missing names from the latest Premiership after doing some fine things with Eastern Suburbs the season before. Suggests he had something lined up and here we go, bloody excellent.

Max Mata: “I feel I’m settling in well but I think a lot of that has to do with the attitude I came here with. I was determined that I was going to show everybody here that just because I come from New Zealand it doesn’t mean I won’t be on the pitch ahead of them and I think about that every day. I know that’s exactly their mindset too. I have found the players are very friendly off the pitch which is good and I am making some good relationships with team mates which is important… My main goal is that I am going to be the hungriest player every day in the gym and on the pitch. I believe if I can achieve that then my footballing career will be successful as I will have no regrets. Also being a striker I want to score as many goals as I can and a goal I have in my mind is to score the most goals in the league for the 2nd half of the season.”

GC Zurich are currently bottom of the table in Switzerland so they could use some help, though it remains to be seen if he’ll go straight into the first team as a teenager. Not always the way it works for young kiwis overseas but this is an exciting one. For a bit of context, Marco Rojas’ best spell in Europe came playing for FC Thun in this same division.

Up Next: Away to FC Thun, Monday at 4am (NZT)

Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)

It must have been a strange sensation, coming at this stage of the season when things are usually so crowded… but Burnley didn’t have a game this weekend. Already knocked out of the FA Cup so that meant a little bit of rest for The Woodsman, hopefully not cooling off too much after his recent run of goals. On that particular subject, he might have had one more if he’d taken the spottie last game against Brighton instead of Ashley Barnes, thus completing what would have been his first hat-trick since August 2013 for Leicester City against Carlisle United in a League Cup game. Why such carnage? Both lads have had a yarn about it in the following days

Chris Wood: “I definitely did fancy it. It’s just one of them things, as strikers here we take responsibility for penalties. Normally if you win then you take it. He won it, I asked him for it, but he said ‘no I’m taking it’ which is fair enough. He won the penalty, so we move on and we go again. There’s no denying I wanted it. I’m sure if Barnesy wanted one as well, it’s how we are as strikers. We’ve got a rule, if you win then you take it.”

Ashley Barnes: “I should have given it to Woody but I needed to finish it. It’s a good return for me but the main thing is the three points and we got them. It’s always nice to score.”

Fair enough. A rule is a rule.

And how about this one? Ol’ Woody cracking Alan Shearer’s Team of the Week!

Premier League: “While much focus has been on the return of Tom Heaton sparking Burnley's upturn in form, the contribution of Chris Wood at the other end of the pitch cannot be overlooked. After just one Premier League goal from his first 19 matches of the season, the New Zealander has scored five times in his last seven, including a double at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out. The forward's partnership with Ashley Barnes, who has four goals in his last six matches, will play an important role in ensuring the Clarets can edge the results to maintain their form, and their Premier League status.”

Up Next: Burnley vs Tottenham on Sunday at 1.30am (NZT)

Ria Percival – West Ham United (English Super League)

Yeah… so that happened. 8-1 over Huddersfield in the FA Cup, don’t even worry about it. Percy played a full 90 minutes at right back but, let’s be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot needed doing in a performance this clinical. Leanne Kiernan scored a hatty as the Hammers bagged four goals in each half. What’s more is that they’d been 1-0 down after an early penalty was awarded against them. No goals or assists for Percival – check out the highlights here.

Up Next: Reading vs WHU at 8.30am on Thursday (NZT)

Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish SuperLig)

It doesn’t always go as planned in football. With a chance to get another statement win against the bottom team on the ladder in Turkey, Ankaragücü were left clinging on after Brice Dja Djedje was sent off early in the second half and by the end of it Boyd’s fellas had only had 32% of possession and two shots on target. Boyd played 82 minutes before being subbed off for a little extra defensive cover. But the folks held on for a 0-0 draw. Anka did actually score late on but it was disallowed by VAR, just as VAR denied an injury time penalty down at the other end. It all balances out.

Up Next: Akhisar vs Ankaragücü, Sunday at 11.30pm (NZT)

Marco Rojas – SønderjyskE (Danish Superliga)

Not the best there. A win over AGF would have really given the Sondies a good chance of closing the gap between themselves and the top half of the table… but instead they conceded in the fifth minute and were lucky not to trail by more when their keeper was caught way off his line by a poor clearance. Rojas was close to setting up an equaliser with a looping cross to the back post but the header was comfortably saved so he took things into his own hands in the 41st minute as he beat a couple defenders and then slammed a shot over the bar.

Chances kept coming in the second half, including a half decent penalty shout, but they couldn’t find a way through. Then they let another one in from an utter screamer courtesy of Patrick Mortensen with about a minute remaining. Smashed it in from range. So the middle 80-odd minutes were pretty good but the other ten or so cost them in a 2-0 defeat. Rojas was replaced by Senad Jarovic with eight minutes to go.

Up Next: AaB Aalborg away on Saturday at 7am (NZT)

Nik Tzanev – AFC Wimbledon (English League One)

Development Coach Alan Reeves: “Nik has done well. He came here just to train initially following a bad injury at Brentford. Every upward step that we have put him on he has taken it in his stride. He’s on loan at Potters Bar at the moment and they are really pleased with him. They have extended his loan, but we’ve got a call back on him if need be. Nik has all the attributes to be an excellent goalkeeper. Mentally there was a question mark, but at Potters Bar he has stepped up and played men’s football. Every step you make on that ladder you are asked more and more questions. You have to answer those questions, otherwise you fall back down a level.”

There are two ways that loans tend to go. One is the no-longer-needed loan and one is the development loan. Tzanev is out with Potters Bar where he’s getting senior starts in the Isthmian League and given he’s extended his contract with AFC Wimbledon in the process it’s pretty clear they’ve got him in mind for a future with the club. Always what we want to see. Tzanev made his debut for the All Whites last year over in India.

Up Next: Potters Bar Town vs Burgess Hill Town, Sunday at 4am (NZT)

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

Don’t look now but Duisburg got pumped 5-0 by Werder Bremen this week which makes things extremely tricky when it comes to that second relegation spot. No dramas about Borussia Mönchengladbach who with one point from 14 games are almost certain to go down… but Duisburg are in a dangerous position with 11 points, only barely ahead of Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen each on 10 points. Meikayla Moore played the full contest this week, Emma Rolston didn’t play at all as she puts the finishing touches to her recovery from shin splints recently.

Up Next: Home to SC Freiburg on Sunday (NZT)

Betsy Hassett - KR Reykjavik (Icelandic Úrvalsdeild kvenna)

Up Next: New season officially begins in a couple weeks

Jesse Edge – Podbrezová (Slovakian Super Liga)

Up Next: Looking Eyes Emoji

Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)

Good win. Important win. A 75th minute Aaron Collins goal, coming off the bench to score the only goal, on his club debut no less, in a 1-0 win over Port Vale. With Sam Lavelle out injured that meant Steven Old was back amongst the starters. He’d lost that gig recently to new signing Ritchie Sutton but his former CB partner Lavelle was hurt last week you may recall.

And it was a mixed bag for Oldie. He almost scored his second goal in two games with a flicked header in the opening stages but it went narrowly wide. Then it went the other way as he conceded a penalty for a foul on Luke Hannant – a pretty soft one to be fair – but luckily keeper Mark Halstead made the save. Halstead had an outrageously good game and at times singlehandedly kept his team in the contest and then Collins came off the bench to score and how about it? The win might prove to be one of the Shrimps’ most crucial all season, snapping an eight-game streak without one and lifting themselves three points clear of the drop zone with a game in hand. Still a fair while to go though.

Up Next: Weds at 8.45am away to Oldham (NZT)

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