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Suburbs supreme!

Three Kings United 1, Eastern Suburbs 2
Keith Hay Park, Auckland, August 4 2013

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New Zealand Northern Regional Football League season 2013 has its first champions! Eastern Suburbs AFC wrapped up the Women’s Premier title today with two games to spare. It’s the club’s first senior premier league title for men or women since 1980 – a wonderful milestone for the club.

In order to celebrate their success this afternoon, they needed two things – to beat Three Kings, and hope that Glenfield Rovers could manage to get up over last season’s champs Claudelands Rovers. But the first part of the equation didn’t go as smoothly as it might have, as the home side did their upmost to rain on their visitors’ parade.

Three Kings dominated possession in the first half and were able to launch multiple attacks on Suburbs’ Football Fern custodian Erin Nayler’s goal, but to no avail. Despite most of the pressure being at the other end of the pitch, it was Suburbs who drew first blood with their first real attack of the match about fifteen minutes in, when Jessie Verdon rose to meet a perfectly weighted corner kick with a beautiful header that evaded keeper Rolls to caress the back of the net. She looked absolutely stoked with her goal, even taking account of the situation the team was in – I’m picking she doesn’t score too many in the normal course of events.

Three Kings kept pressing and continued to look good enough to level the scores. That was until a defensive lapse saw Katie Hoyle released one on one with Rolls, and she made no mistake. There was still time before the break for two almost carbon copies of the Hoyle goal, one at each end! A rare lapse from Rebecca Tegg as she hit her shot straight into Rolls’ outstretched hands, and down the other end, a superb stop by Nayler from a Jessie Mathews shot. After all that, Suburbs went into the break with a two goal lead that didn’t really reflect the closeness of the contest. The difference between the two sides was simply Suburbs’ ability to finish their chances.

The second half picked up where things left off at the end of the first, with end-to-end action. Most notable chances included Tegg cannoning a shot off keeper Rolls, Sam Hayr and Erin Nayler coming together at the other end with the shot stopper gathering the ball in her midriff just as her opponent put a boot into it… Then Longo sent a shot ricocheting off the post for Three Kings. The best chance for the home side to score in the whole match came with about 20 minutes left, when Hayr rounded Nayler and only had to slot home into an open goal! Sadly, she duffed the shot and it was able to be tidied away by the Suburbs defence before it could trickle across the line.

By this time, word had filtered around the ground that Glenfield were ahead of Claudelands over at McFetridge Park and it seemed as though the title was on its way to Madills Farm for certain. I suspect Claudelands won’t have minded going down to Glenfield too much. Those two will meet again in the semi-final of the Knockout Cup in a few weeks’ time, and with the league title already gone from the Reds’ grasp, I know which one of those two games I’d rather lose…

But back at Keith Hay Park, there was still time for some late drama to come, when Jessie Mathews managed a late goal to make things interesting (sorry, I was too busy tweeting to see what actually happened). Suburbs survived the remaining injury time though to overcome their jitters and become thoroughly well-deserved champions.

So that’s New Zealand’s Northern Women’s Premier League for another season, and I’d say a successful one at that. I really liked the top six/bottom six format. It seemed to result in much more closely fought, interesting games at the back end of the season. My only gripe is it would have been awesome to see the top and bottom sixes play both home and away in the second round!

After today’s match I had a good chat to Suburbs coach Rico Wilson about his side’s fabulous achievement:

Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier

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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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