Michael Woud – Willem II (Dutch Eredivisie)
Michael Woud has been staying ready. Since transferring from Sunderland to Willem II last year he’s been making moves in the background, already working his way up to back-up goalie status and even earning a new contract a few weeks back. His teammate James McGarry, who transferred at a similar time, got his break early on with a couple starts in the first few weeks of the season. But Woud has had to wait for his debut. He’s had to wait until now.
Having sat on the bench 24 times in the Eredivisie, Woud finally got a start on the weekend against Fortuna Sittard as regular starter Timon Wellenreuther was out with injury. It’s expected that Wellenreuther, a 23 year old German goalie, will be fit to go again in the midweek so nothing drastic there… but it was the opportunity that Mike Woud’s been waiting for.
Not quite the dream debut. He had to be sharp to tip one around the post from a direct free kick early on, although it might have been going wide, but 31 minutes in he had a similar one which he tried to parry and catch but instead bounced it right to an attacker for the opening goal of the game. Whoops.
But the game swung again ten minutes later when Renato Tapia was dragged down in the penalty area, leading to a spot kick and a red card for Anrija Bajic. Alexander Isak stepped up and levelled from the spot to take us level into half-time. Hilariously the highlights below have a clip of Bajic having watching the replay in the dressing room and complaining at the cameras about the decision. “Red card! Red card for this!?”
That deadlock only lasted until the 53rd minute when Fortuna Sittard, despite the ten men, regained their lead. A deep cross to the far post was headed back across for Branislav Inaj to pump it home. Possibly Woudy might have been able to get across and put a glove on the cross, dunno. But there was a fair bit of what-if about that scrambly goal.
In the end it didn’t matter because the ref liked the sound of his whistle that day and within five minutes Isak had made it 2-2 from the penalty spot. Two further minutes later another penalty was awarded and Isak completed his hat-trick all from twelve yards. Both very soft calls, to be honest, although the third one did look like a foul. Willem then ramped it up going for the fourth but it never arrived. Didn’t need it in the end, they held on for the 3-2 victory.
Quite the afternoon then. Even if the mistake meant he came out of his debut feeling a little frustrated and disappointed. But it’s all motivation. The timing of this is quite lovely too because last week he gave an interview, in the wake of his new contract, talking about the biggest motivation in his career: his father, who passed from lung cancer while he was at Sunderland.
Michael Woud: “I have an important task to fulfill in memory of my father. Since then, I have seized every opportunity with both hands. I want to do it for him well and would love it if my family can be proud of me.”
That interview goes into his family history a bit, with his kiwi upbringing contrasted with a Dutch father and half-Dutch mother. So three-quarters Dutch in his parentage. Of course, Woud declined an invite to the Netherlands U20 squad late last year in favour of reasserting his All Whites eligibility. He had every reason to switch if he wanted too, he’s perfectly eligible, but he made the moral call to stick with the country where he came up as a footy player, which he’s already represented at U17 and U20 World Cups and will surely do so again in May when the next U20s roll around – although he does discuss a potential clash if Willem II get into Europa Playoff contention late in the season.
Up Next: Away to Heracles on Wednesday at 6.45am (NZT)
Ali Riley – Chelsea FC vs Ria Percival – West Ham United (English Super League)
There’s the not so small matter of a Football Ferns camp in Spain next week as another women’s international week rolls around. But before meeting up as teammates, Ali Riley and Ria Percival got to meet up as opponents as their clubs did the footy thing in the WSL. Not a massive amount to play for in the league standings for either, though both are still firing away in cup comps. In fact this could have been a preview for the FA Cup final… we’ll find out if that’s the case in two weeks when the semis take place.
Out of some beautiful synchronicity Ali Riley was picked to start, having been an unused sub in both the Champions League quarter final legs against PSG. Ria Percival always starts. So left back against right back, there we go.
Ria Percival: “I think it’s going to be a big game, a tough game, for us. It’s one that both sides will be desperate to win. We are definitely going into it with a positive mind-set. It will be a challenge and we know the quality Chelsea have, but I feel we’ve prepared in the right way. We’re always up for every game. We know that playing the top teams is always a battle, but for us, we need to focus on what we do well. We need to stop their threats and break down their play as much as we can. Once they get on the ball and start passing, they can hurt teams, so we need to stop that.”
Chelsea had the better of the first half, Beth England striking off the post one before a nice header had the Blues up 1-0 going into the break. Chelsea had the chance to double that lead a few times but Anna Moorhouse was excellent in goal and after a couple subs early in the second, WHU came right back into it and equalised thanks to former Chelsea defender Gilly Flaherty. Quite a good game in the end as both teams then pushed for a winner, CFC going closest, before the full time whistle blew and we had ourselves a draw. 1-1.
A dud result for Chelsea who should have won it with all their chances yet credit to West Ham for hanging in there and getting their rewards. Ninety minutes for both kiwi fullbacks and while they weren’t directly involved in either goal they sure got to celebrate them.
Up Next: International break… then Chelsea are away to Man City on the 15th in the FA Cup semis while West Ham plays Reading in the same comp but three hours earlier (NZT)
Chris Wood – Burnley (English Premier League)
Bingo - all it took was an international break to reset things. Feeling freshened up, Burnley then went and took a borderline essential three points off Wolverhampton Wanderers with a 2-0 win and while neither goal was scored by Chris Wood, he had a big hand in the first one. Or rather… a big foot.
Doing something he hardly ever does, he broke the offside trap from a swirling low free kick from Dwight McNeil and caught the Wolves defence static. This was only just the second minute of the game. Wood then took a smooth first touch to round the keeper only his side-footed finish slid into the post and bounced back… but directly into a sliding Conor Coady for an own goal.
That gave Burnley a lead to work with – something they only experienced for thirteen total minutes in the month of March until this game. It was a lead they didn’t often look like adding to but then neither did their opponents. The match highlights here are some of the dullest clips you’ll ever see. Hopeful volleys and comfortable goalkeeping. It opened up more in the second half as Wolves got a bit more desperate but then Dwight McNeil capped a happy one for him with a smashing finish through some rubbish defending in the 77th min (just as he was about to be subbed off) and Burnley won it 2-0.
Sean Dyche (after his 300th game in charge of the club): “We started very well and Dwight and Woody caught eyes well for the first goal. In the second half they grew into the game, changed formation and threw caution to the wind, while we were a bit cagey and edgy, which you would expect. But then, because of our diligence to do all the basic stuff we know we can find moments and Dwight finds a fantastic one, so I am pleased on all levels.”
Huge result for Burnley as Southampton also won, edging both teams five points clear of Cardiff for that final relegation spot, also level with Brighton who have an extra game in hand. Burnley have played one more than the Saints or Cardiff. With six games left, Burnley still have to face Chelsea, Man City, Everton, and Arsenal… so this game was pretty massive and they did what they had to do. The next two against Bournemouth and Cardiff will probably determine their fate now, especially if they can win the six-point-swing over Cardiff.
Chris Wood, pre-Wolves: “It’s going to be a tough seven-game run -in, but we have the squad and the capabilities within it to succeed and make sure we stay up. We know who we have to play, but that doesn’t really matter. We’ve gone to Manchester United and drawn and beaten Spurs at home, so it doesn’t matter who you have to play. All the teams in this league are tough and you just have to pick up the points wherever you can, so there’s no worries that we can’t pick up points against the big four. However, all we can do is deal with the game in front of us. There’s no point in looking down the line.”
Up Next: Bournemouth vs Burnley, 2am on Sunday (NZT)
Stefan Marinovic - Bristol City (English Championship)
It took until the pre-game presser from Bristol City gaffer Lee Johnson to clear up what was going on with Stefan Marinovic getting subbed in the U23 game last week. Turns out nothing to worry about, which is what had been hinted at by the rumours. As for the scrap for the number one keeper the rest of the way…
Lee Johnson: “No, [Stefan’s] fine. That was precautionary. He felt a little bit tight on his thigh. It just wasn’t worth it playing in that type of game and he was only going to play 45 minutes anyway. You’ll find out [who is going to be the new number 1] sooner rather than later. I’m replaying my words - it’s a little bit harsh because you never know what’s going to happen, with form, performances or physical or mental state. Frank Fielding you can pretty much guarantee is out for the season. And Niki Maenpaa has had a blood-spinning treatment. If he doesn’t respond well then those are our three for the rest of the season: Jojo, Max and Stefan.”
Bristol City played Sheffield United this week in a pretty huge game for both teams with BCFC trying to get up into the top six again and the Blades trying to keep up with Norwich and Leeds for automatic promotion. And the starting keeper was… Max O’Leary. As you’d probably expect based on their previous performances. Big Stef on the bench to see what’s up.
Funky moment early on when O’Leary had a chunky first touch almost as dangerous as Marinovic’s first one for the club the other week, though he soon eased into it. Probably could have done better against Billy Sharp’s opener although there maybe should have been a foul called the other way too. No worries though because Bristol City had Andreas Weimann on a blinder of a day. The Austrian winger equalised with a flicked header half an hour in.
That was the way it stayed until twenty minutes to go when Scott Hogan nodded in a chipped cross at the far post, putting Sheffield Utd back on top. The lead lasted six minutes before Weimann got in behind the defence to volley in casually across the goal. Then another six minutes after he bagged the winner. Busting through the defence to complete his hat-trick… so good.
Enormous win there to do wonders for the playoff chances. But it does look like Max O’Leary is the one being lined up as the new number one keeper. There’s a midweek game though so if LJ ain’t done with deciding yet then there’s space to rotate still. These three points don’t put BCFC back in the top six but they’re only one point behind with a game in hand.
Up Next: Middlesbrough vs Bristol City, 7.45am on Wednesday (NZT)
Meikayla Moore – MSV Duisburg (German Frauen-Bundesliga)
After resurrecting their season last week with a 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen, MSV Duisburg then had a great chance to back that up when they played a midweek catch-up game away to bottom placed Borussia Mönchengladbach. Meikayla Moore at centreback looking for back clean sheets. Safe to say that these were three points that they couldn’t afford to let slip from their grasp.
And they didn’t. Sweet as. Six minutes in Moore even had the chance to give her side the lead, getting on the ball with a little space after finding herself in the attacking third… but her strike went over the bar. Duisburg continued to get forwards and they were all over this game in the opening stages. Moore again got a crack at goal. Big game player coming to the front here. This one was blocked and then gathered by the keeper. Sorta looked on the highlights like Moore might’ve even been playing midfield, though it’s hard to tell.
Yet Duisburg have struggled to score goals at the best of times this season and they weren’t able to find one here as we hit the sheds at 0-0. Then they were bloody lucky not to go behind straight after the resumption. That was the scare they needed to get back to total domination and when they needed a hero, the gaffer chucked on Antonia-Johanna Halverkamps as a sub and she scored within two minutes of her introduction. A massive goal. They weren’t able to add another one for safety but that’s okay because 1-0 was enough. Meikayla picked up a yellow card in injury time.
Consecutive 1-0 wins drags them up to 17 points and into the dizzying heights of ninth in the standings, six points clear of the relegation zone with five games left to play. Highlights available here.
Up Next: Home ot SC Sand on the 15th after the international break (NZT)
Bill Tuiloma – Portland Timbers (American Major League Soccer)
Well now, would you look at that? Not only starting but getting in on the promo imagery. Picked as part of a back three going up against LA Galaxy… and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The back three is not normal for them, but after the 2018 finalists conceded 10 goals in their first three games, taking just one point in the process, obviously they figured something needed to change if they were going to handle the Zlatan.
Initially it looked solid. They had good shape and communication. Billy T, rocking the Slim Shady cuts, was a big part of that. Then he missed a header from a cross and Zlatan acrobatically volleyed it off the post because that’s how quickly it can all turn with a bloke like that around. The Timbers held on until half an hour in when Claude Dielna barged Zlatan over in the box and it was 1-0 from the penalty spot.
Just before the break we got a glimpse of the Timbers of last season when Jeremy Ebobisse finished off a fantastic passing move that just picked the Galaxy defence apart with one-touch passing and movement. But then Zlatan won another spottie in the second half and panenka’d it for 2-1.
One for the ‘gram, there. Pretty notable that at the end when Gio Savarese subbed off a defender to get another striker out there it was Dielna who was replaced, not Tuiloma. In fact after a pretty solid performance there, having nothing to do with either penalty and otherwise keeping Zlatan and the Galaxy tied up, Bill’s just done his chances to be a regular starter some huge good.
Oregon Live: “Bill Tuiloma got his first start of the season at center back in the game and showed well. He now looks like the obvious choice to slot in alongside Larrys Mabiala, who was suspended Sunday, when the Timbers are using just two center backs.”
Up Next: Away to San Jose on Sunday at midday (NZT)
Tyler Boyd – MKE Ankaragücü (Turkish SuperLig)
Another rough one for the Ankers, going down 3-1 to Yeni Malatyaspor. Things were all even at the half but a penalty ten minutes later followed by another concession soon after meant big trouble. Dever Orgill pulled one back but the home side scored again in injury time to be sure of it. Tyler Boyd played the full game and did his thing down that wing as it looked for a while like Ankers were going to equalise and maybe even win this thing. They had some golden chances with all the pressure after Orgill made it 2-1. But not how it worked out.
Up Next: Monday at 1am at home to Fenerbahce (NZT)
Erin Nayler – Girondins Bordeaux (French Division 1 Féminine)
Bordeaux have been great this season, copping a few big defeats along the way against the top teams (none worse than the 7-1 last game against Lyon) but usually getting past the teams below or around them on the table. Which got them as high as third on the ladder, however a disappointing 1-0 loss to Soyaux this week has seen them drop down to fourth. Sarah Cambot scored the winner in the 78th minute with a flicked header at the near post from a corner, nothing really that Erin Nayler could do about it. A shame because until then Bordeaux had had the better of a largely uneventful game. But Soyaux finished strong after taking the lead and only a couple saves from Nayler stopped it from being two or three. Time to refocus now with the international break afoot.
Up Next: Bordeaux vs Lille, 12.45am on Monday 15 April (NZT)
Michael Boxall – Minnesota United (American Major League Soccer)
Nothing much to see here. The Loons did well to come from a goal down to be even at 1-1 going into HT only to play a pretty rubbish second half and lose it 2-1. They’re looking tired now after a brilliant first couple games, unsurprising given that their new stadium hasn’t yet opened so they’ve begun their season with a bunch of away games, of which they have one more remaining before the big unveiling. Full game for Boxy though.
Up Next: 11am on Sunday away to NY Red Bulls (NZT)
Jeremy Brockie – Mamelodi Sundowns (South African Premier Soccer League)
Soccer Laduma: “The likes of Jeremy Brockie and Thabo Qalinge who have fallen down the pecking order at their respective clubs are now believed to be on the wish list of potential suitors in the Premier Soccer League. Brockie has been linked with an exit from Sundowns for several months now, as his struggle for game-time continues after seven league games without a single appearance. However, according to Siya sources, the New Zealand international could be on his way out of the club in the upcoming July/August transfer window, with Bidvest Wits believed to be showing interest in the striker.”
Up Next: Doesn’t really matter at this point
Rebekah Stott & Vic Esson – Avaldsnes IL (Norwegian Toppserien)
Disappointing one there for Avaldsnes. With mere minutes remaining they were up 1-0 against Lillestrom and looking good for their first win of the new season. Dejana Stefanovic had given them the lead with an impressive backwards header from a free kick in the first half and despite five yellow cards along the way Avaldsnes had managed to survive to that point in a feisty game. But a sliding challenge from Nathalie Utvik saw a penalty awarded which Guro Reiten used to earn a 1-1 draw. Probably deserved on the basis of the game but when you’re that close to a win it feels like a defeat. Rebekah Stott played the full game and went close once with a shot at the near post. She also avoided the yellow card drama. Vic Esson was an unused sub. Both of them are now in Spain ahead of New Zealand’s two games against Norway… the country they’re now living in. That’ll be a fun one.
Up Next: Trondheims-Ørn away at 5am on Monday 15 April (NZT)
Steven Old – Morecambe (English League Two)
A 1-0 win over Crawley Town this week. Liam Mandeville came off the bench to score a late winner while Oldie played the full game at CB, keeping a clean sheet. With a nine-point buffer between them and the relegation zone and only six games remaining this all but books the Shrimps in the football league again next season.
Up Next: Away to Macclesfield Town on Sunday at 2am (NZT)
Tommy Smith & Deklan Wynne – Colorado Rapids (American Major League Soccer)
Two things that Anthony Hudson’s Rapids are really good at: conceding goals and getting red cards. They did both this week, going down 4-1 at home to the Houston Dynamo. Two of the goals were own goals. Deklan Wynne was an unused sub, Tommy Smith… well, he had a prominent role in one of the above events.
The Dynamo took the lead when Memo Rodriguez made an unchecked run directly through the middle of the Rapids defence and struck first time past Tim Howard. This was the fourth minute of the game, typical Rapids digging themselves into a hole. Colorado actually forged plenty of attempts at goal in this one and in between their mistakes they played alright. But an Axel Sjoberg OG half an hour after the first goal dig that hole even deeper. Just not quite quick enough to get to the square cross, deflected by Tim Howard’s right arm, with his body in the right position to clear it. Not as bad as Keegan Rosenberry’s sloppy hacked clearance that he poked into his own net. Again it involved Smithy rushing to the near post and being unable to block a cross from the excellent Alberth Ellis, who gave absolute fits to left back Dillon Serna (Serna was replaced by Kellyn Acosta in the 57th minute). Bring back Deklan Wynne!
So yeah, 3-0 down at the half. That became 4-0 in the 67th minute when Ellis showed some more of that pace and strength to get a goal of his own, very deserved. Again, the Rapids played decent in between the horror moments and they were well worth the goal Kei Kamara pulled back from the penalty spot near the end. But there was one more drama to follow as in the 89th minute a video review determined that a mid-air lunge from none other than Tommy Smith was worthy of a red card and, frankly, it’s hard to disagree with the decision. That’s a three-game ban now. One more chance for Deklan to put his hand up if he’s lucky.
Up Next: Orlando City vs Colorado, Sunday at 11.30am (NZT)
Thomas Raimbault – Vancouver Whitecaps Academy (American Major League Soccer)
You see that goal? This fella’s been involved in the U20 system lately ahead of their upcoming World Cup in in May. Tommy Raimbault. A Wellington lad, apparently, though he was born in France. Played for Wellington Olympic before leaving for Canada. One of a bunch of names in the latest U20 training camp.
Up Next: Keep on rising
The USL Crew
James Musa (Phoenix Rising) – Incredibly it’s three draws in a row for the Rising now. Looked like Adam Jahn had scored an 86th min winner but then Ismaila Jome equalised in stoppage time for Colorado Springs Switchbacks. Phoenix had 34 total shots so not sure how they didn’t win. James Musa played 90 mins for the first time this year.
Sam Brotherton (North Carolina FC) – Those last minute equalisers go both ways. North Carolina were the ones to benefit as Thomas McCabe scored in the last gasp for a 1-1 draw against Charleston Battery. Full game with a yellow card for Brotherton.
Elliot Collier (Memphis 901 FC) - Missed a 3-2 defeat to New York Red Bulls Reserves with a “lower body” injury. No word on the severity of it yet.
Kyle Adams (Rio Grande Valley) – Another ninety mins for Kyle Adams but a 2-1 defeat away to Tulsa Roughnecks means they’re still without a win after four games.
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