Seasons wrap up as others make mark

The club seasons have wrapped up for many All Whites and Football Ferns in recent days but there are still plenty of Kiwis in action across the globe as New Zealand’s overseas-based professionals continue to make their mark.

After representing New Zealand at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2015, Brock Messenger is now on the books of FF Jaro in the Ykkonen, the second tier of the Finnish professional system. Messenger has made a handful appearances for Jaro, with the most recent being a full game in a 1-1 draw with FC Honka. Jaro currently sit in sixth place on the table but remain undefeated with two games in hand. Also in Finland, Nikko Boxall – brother of current All White Michael – took full part for Kuopion Palloseura in the top-flight Veikkausliiga, in which they went down 2-0 to league leaders HJK Helsinki in a top-of-the-table clash. That loss puts Boxall and KuPS into second place, two points behind HJK but having played one less game. There is plenty of the line with the Veikkausliiga winners earning a place in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League and the runners-up and third-placed teams doing likewise in the Europa League.

In the Superettan in Sweden, GAIS fell 2-1 to Degerfors with a pair of Kiwis featuring. Former All White Steven Old played for the entirety while Dan Keat came off the bench as a late substitute. Elsewhere in the league, Tyler Lissette’s IFK Varnamo were defeated 2-0 by Orgryte IS with the defender logging a full 90 minutes. The results leave GAIS in tenth and Varnamo among the relegation play-off places in 13th. In the women’s game, Hannah Wilkinson – who celebrated her 25th birthday on Sunday – played just over 70 minutes in Vittsjo GIK’s 4-1 win over Djugardens IF while Ali Riley appeared for FC Rosengard in a 2-2 draw with KIF Orebro. Rosengard remain third in the Damallsvenskan while Vittsjo currently lie fifth. In Norway, Kirsty Yallop got her name on the scoresheet as Klepp IL earned a 2-0 win over Kolbotn. Klepp are now fifth in the Toppserien.

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Outside of Scandinavia, Anna Green has been a regular in Reading’s starting line-up but was an unused substitute this time as the Royals drew 1-1 with Birmingham City. Reading are now sixth in the FA Women’s Super League Spring Series and Green will look to win back her place for the two remaining matches, against Arsenal and Sunderland. Further north in England, Max Crocombe suffered disappointment in being released by League Two club Carlisle United but that was swiftly followed by much better news as he was picked up by Salford City. The Greater Manchester-based side play in the National League North and goalkeeper Crocombe is likely to rub shoulders with some famous names as Salford are partly owned by Manchester United legends Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs.

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Across the channel, Football Ferns goalkeeper Erin Nayler helped Grenoble snatch a 3-1 win over Clermont in their final game of the French second division, in which they finished third and were two points off first-placed FC Val D’orge.In Germany, fellow goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic attained a clean sheet in SpVgg Unterhaching’s 3-0 win over SV Elversberg in the first leg of the Regionalliga play-offs. The second leg will take place overnight, after which the custodian will link up with the All Whites on their pre-Confederations Cup tour. Also in Germany, Amber Hearn started in a 2-2 draw with VFL Wolfsburg and was withdrawn just after the hour mark. That game wrapped up the Frauen Bundesliga for USV Jena, who finish a disappointing campaign ninth on the 12-team table.

The season is also coming to a close for Betsy Hassett in Holland but not before Ajax have had the chance to complete a rare league-and-cup double. The league title part of the equation was settled in the previous week but Ajax underlined just why they have become Eredivisie champions by finishing on a high with a 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven. Midfielder Hassett has been used largely off the bench recently but took full part in a match that essentially acted as a dress rehearsal for the KNVB Women’s Cup final between the same teams this Friday.

In Canada, All White Deklan Wynne was rewarded for his good form in the United Soccer League (USL) for Vancouver Whitecaps 2 with his first ever call-up to the Major League Soccer (MLS) outfit’s first team. Wynne was included in Vancouver’s squad for the first leg of their Canadian Championship semi-final against Montreal Impact and came on for the last 20 minutes of a 2-1 win. He missed the second leg after heading to Belfast for the All Whites’ pre-Confederations Cup friendly against Northern Ireland as the Whitecaps were denied a place in the final with a 4-2 defeat. Before travelling over to Northern Ireland with All Whites team mate Wynne, Kip Colvey clocked a full 90 minutes in a 4-0 win for Reno 1868 over Tulsa Roughnecks in the USL. In the MLS, there were mixed emotions for Jake Gleeson, who was voted man of the match by Portland Timbers’ fans but couldn’t prevent a 1-0 loss to Seattle Sounders. The Timbers now sit fifth in the Western Conference, one point above the LA Galaxy.

In the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), the Football Ferns trio of Rebekah Stott, Rosie White and Katie Bowen all featured in their respective games over the weekend. Having now established her place in the starting line-up, Stott played for all of Seattle Reign’s 2-0 win over Houston Dash, which brings the Reign into fourth place on the table. White and Bowen weren’t able to join Stott in getting a full game under their belts though, White coming off just after the hour as the Boston Breakers were swept aside 2-0 by the Portland Thorns while Bowen entered the fray in the 65th minute to help FC Kansas City beat Washington Spirit 3-2. The win takes Kansas City into sixth spot on the table, three points above White’s Breakers. At the sharp end of the ladder, Abby Erceg’s North Carolina Courage remain on top despite a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Red Stars. There was a personal milestone for Erceg as the former Ferns captain scored her first goal of the season with a well-placed header from a corner in stoppage time at the end of the first half but it wasn’t enough to deny Chicago.

In South Africa, Michael Boxall’s All Whites selection has unfortunately ruled him out of SuperSport United’s Nedbank Cup final against Orlando Pirates but New Zealand will still be represented by fellow Kiwi Jeremy Brockie. Boxall managed to squeeze in one more game with his compatriot in the Absa Premiership before joining Anthony Hudson’s squad as SuperSport were defeated 1-0 by Platinum Stars. Brockie had the ball in the net in the 28th minute with a cool header but the goal was ruled out for offside and he was later replaced in the final throes of the game. Boxall played the full 90 minutes and his thoughts will now be turning to keeping out the likes of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo at the Confederations Cup.

In Indonesia, Shane Smeltz joined Brockie in finding the target but his last-gasp strike was allowed to stand as Borneo accounted for Bhayangkara 3-0 in Liga 1. Smeltz, who has also been called up by his country for Confederations Cup duty, rose from the bench at half-time and made an impact late on by scoring his side’s third goal in additional time.

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