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Don’t leave me this way

Northern Based Under 17s 2, Waikato Bay of Plenty 1
St Peter’s College, Auckland, November 18 2012

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At the halfway point in the group stage of the National Women’s League going into this weekend’s fixtures, the Northern conference was delicately poised. This unexpected result has kept it that way. In the other Auckland fixture, Northern Football (seven points on the table) defeated Auckland (four points) 4-2 to extend their lead over WaiBOP to 4 points with 2 regular season games remaining. The Northern Based New Zealand Under 17s were without any points and so a win by WaiBOP this afternoon would have all but confirmed the Mooloos and Northern as semi-finalists. Instead the Northern conference was blown wide open by this pulsating encounter.

It was end to end action all the way as both sides created plenty of chances. The Under 17s took the lead first through Marty Puketapu about 25 minutes into the first half. WaiBOP’s Helen Collins, the current golden boot leader, then began to break free, enjoying breaks and one on one situations with the 17s goalkeeper Emma Taylor but continually finding it difficult to land the killer blow until she finally managed to make it 1-1 shortly before half time.

It really could have gone either way in the second half as both sides attacked in wave after wave. Once Daisy Cleverley got the breakthrough for the 17s though, they did a magnificent job of keeping Collins at bay for the rest of the game, leading to a victory they were obviously ecstatic with.

While Northern now look like a semi-final certainty in the conference, the other three teams are all of a sudden in the hunt to join them which sets up a fascinating last two weeks of pool play. When you combine this great game with that great spectre, you have to wonder one thing – why can’t this go on for longer? It’s so enjoyable to watch, it would be fantastic if it was double the length and even better again if we could see the Southern teams up here for a sustained period and vice versa.

Of course it’s not about us spectators. It’s all about player development, but wouldn’t it be better all-around to have a longer season with more variety in opponents for the teams? If not, why do we run the men’s league over the whole summer? Is it just a money thing? If so, what else are we doing with the money we are raking in from all the World Cups we are qualifying for? Because this seems to me a lost opportunity.

I now find myself both looking forward to and dreading the semi-finals. Because I know that when they arrive this great wee competition will be over all too soon after it began, and that’s a real pity.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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