“It was surreal. I was so nervous beforehand, and didn’t feel anything during the game. I played alright, but I was kind of on autopilot,” Sam Wall reflected on his appearance for Napier City Rovers in the recent Chatham Cup quarter final against Albany United.
The 16-year old from Lindisfarne College played nearly the entire 120 minutes of an epic match that Napier should have won, but did their best to lose.
“I felt we were dominant, but couldn't score. They had a quick striker who caught us short twice. There were a lot of injuries and we scored in the 99th minute to send it to extra time,” Wall asserted.
Jack Beguely netted a double for Albany, but goals to Josh Stevenson and Sho Goto forced an additional period where “nothing” happened before penalties.
“We won the shootout 4-3. I was relieved that I didn’t have to take one. I went off with cramp. I had faith in the boys to do it. We deserve to be in the semi-finals,” Wall said.
Four-time champions Napier will host 2017 winners Onehunga Sports on August 25. The South Auckland outfit had an equally dramatic 5-4 overtime win over Wellington Olympic. Andrew Milne was the hero for Onehunga with two goals. Wall concedes he would have preferred to play Bay Olympic.
“Onehuga are a dangerous side, with a lot of attacking threats. At least we got a home tie.”
Wall will be kept busy in central defencee. In addition to helping Napier into second position in the Central League, he is the leading player in the Lindisfarne First XI who are third in the local schools league. Wall has benefited greatly from senior experience.
“It’s great playing for Napier because you are always been tested. We can’t win the league, which is disappointing, but going back to school with the experience of playing men helps me raise the level of my schoolmates.”
Lindisfarne rose their reputation internationally when they toured Dubai at the beginning of the season. After two years of planning, Lindisfarne won all four matches, outscoring opponents 23-2.
“Dubai was unreal. The facilities and culture were amazing, but the football was average. They weren’t very good.” Wall revealed.
In 2018, Wall was very good winning the Petersen Family Cup as the best young player in the Lindisfarne First XI.
Wall will be hoping to add the Chatham Cup to his trophy collection. The semi-finals are contested over the weekend of August 24-25 with the decider to be played on September 8.
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