Cup win sends Tech coach out on a high

Graeme Smaill
Graeme Smaill
It is going to take a while for everything to sink in for Dunedin Technical women’s coach Graeme Smaill.

Smaill will head into coaching retirement today after a perfect finish in Auckland yesterday.

The side he coached went out in his last game in charge and won the Kate Sheppard Cup, the knockout cup for top women’s club sides across the country.

Technical went into the match the underdog but a top first half had the side 4-1 ahead at the break.

Opponent Forrest Hill Milford United, from Auckland, got a goal back early in the second half but once the Technical side got its composure back and held on to the ball, it ran out a convincing 4-2 winner.

It hit the crossbar twice in the second half and also came close on another occasion as it ran out a deserving winner.

Smaill was somewhat in shock after the win, but said it was a "nice shock" to be in.

"Just unbelievable, really. To be up 4-1 at halftime was not something we expected. It could have been 5-1, as we had a three on one there just before halftime, but just could not get the ball free," Smaill said.

"The way we pressed in the first half really worked for us. We pressed them higher and kept them back and that had them under pressure. Our finishing was first rate ... and a few of them ran themselves into the ground."

Technical made a dream start. A corner from Shontelle Smith found the head of Mikaela Hunt in the 10th minute and from the edge of the six-yard box the ball was headed into the back of the net.

Then six minutes later, Lara Wall made a fantastic run down the left, beating a couple of players, and rifled a shot past hapless goalkeeper Emily Couchman.

The Auckland side got on the board when striker Jane Barnett shot from the edge of the penalty box to score after 20 minutes.

But Technical restored its two-goal cushion when winger Mikayla Gray made a run down the right and drew three defenders. She cut the ball across and an unmarked Emily Morison slotted the ball home.

The fourth goal came from Hunt, who got on the end of a long free kick from Smith and headed it past Couchman. She joked after the game how she never seemed to score from headers.

Barnett scored early in the second half but the heavy favourites going into the final never looked likely, as their strike force had little to offer.

Smaill said the side was put under pressure early in the second half but regained composure and stayed in formation. There was the temptation to go defensive but it maintained its shape right through.

Wall and Smith both hit the crossbar in the second half and Morison also went close.

Smaill praised Smith’s performance, saying she was the best player on the park, while Hunt and Gray both had top matches.

 

Kate Sheppard Cup final
The score

Dunedin Technical    4

Mikaela Hunt 10’, 34’, Lara Wall 16’, Emily Morison 25’

Forrest Hill Milford United    2

Jane Barnett 20’, 48Halftime: 4-1

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