Auckland Football 0, Northern Football 2
William Green Domain, Auckland, November 11 2013
Another Sunday, another Auckland Football Federation National Women’s League game. It’s starting to feel a bit like I’m following these JAFA ladies all over the country, and in a sense I am, but it’s only because they always seem to be in the thick of all the interesting action. This week it was another no-brainer of a decision to come back to William Green for the famous ‘battle of the bridge’ local derby contested by the two teams from opposite sides of the Waitemata Harbour. As well as that, it’s a repeat of last year’s grand final, so in the grand scheme of things, where else could I possibly want to be? But wait, there’s more! With Auckland’s Football Ferns all back from international duty where they contributed to an historic 1-1 draw with world number 1 ranked USA, up against Northern’s well-settled table topping unit, this had all the ingredients of a classic. The score might suggest that it wasn’t, but it still sort of was even though Northern never really looked like losing.
Aside from anything else, it was my first opportunity to see Liverpool striker Sarah Gregorius live in action since she played for the Football Ferns against China in a friendly all the way back in June last year, and that was a privilege in itself. It speaks volumes for her commitment to the next generation that she wanted to play in this league during some downtime in her busy calendar, so that the younger players in the Auckland squad can learn from her and benefit from the great experience (even though she’s only 26!) that she brings. It was interesting to watch her positioning and admire her phenomenal work rate!
It was also a good chance to size up Northern’s title credentials. They looked a bit rusty last time I saw them but they have been getting the results since, apart from their one blemish, a shock defeat by the Under 17’s in round 2.
I wouldn’t have called this a perfect display, but it was much improved. Auckland is of course a good side and took some breaking down, but Northern still looked that little bit superior across the paddock. They dominated the midfield and left Auckland feeding off the scraps a bit for most of the game. Auckland still had their time in the opposition third, but never really looked like troubling Northern keeper Pam Yates too much with Gregorius doing her best but forced too deep to be much of a threat.
Despite their dominance, Northern’s goals were a wee bit soft. An easy tap-in from Katie Rood in the first half following a defensive lapse, and a Tayla O’Brien corner that curled all the way in untroubled by anyone. Having said that though, two goals are two goals and the result was still a more than fair one in my book.
I would dearly love to be at English Park in Christchurch next week for their clash with Mainland in a game that should tell us something about who the title favourites are, and promises to be a ding-dong battle in its own right. Instead though, I’ll be back at William Green again (surprise, surprise) to see the only side in the competition I haven’t yet been able to watch play, Central, take on Auckland in what will be a must win game for both sides if they are to have any hope of snaring third place and the last berth in the semi-finals that comes along with it. That will be just as, if not more important than the game down in Christchurch so I’m really not complaining too much!
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.