Glenfield Rovers 2, Western Springs 0
McFetridge Park, Auckland, August 23 2015
I think if you check the road between Swanson and Glenfield, you might find that I’m starting to wear grooves where my car tyres have driven repeatedly between my house and McFetridge Park! This New Zealand Women’s Knockout Cup semi-final marked my fifth trip here in 2015, which is probably up there with the most times I’ve been to one ground in a club football season… But nevertheless it was here that two of the best women’s football teams in the country were going at it for a place in the final of the showpiece of national women’s club football. For this, I’d go anywhere!
This game was also something of a preview of coming attractions. The ASB Women’s League is, excitingly, just a few weeks away now and here we had a game that, if you squint and tilt your head to one side slightly, could pass as a national league battle of the bridge! A solid chunk of Auckland’s likely squad was in the Springs line-up under AFF coach Rico Wilson, while Glenfield will in all likelihood be supplying a number of key players to the team representing Northern Football.
Incidentally, I don’t like to name drop but I was chatting to Northern’s coach Paul Greig side-line prior to this match and he was (and he did say I could quote him) pretty excited about the season ahead. He was especially cock a hoop with the players at his disposal and exclaimed “if the team doesn’t perform, it’s on me!” He clearly felt confident that if they gel as a team they will be pretty hard to beat.
And justifiably so! If you add the Women’s Premier squads of Forrest Hill Milford and Glenfield Rovers together, who could disagree with Paul’s assessment? Particularly with the back-to-back title winning Mainland Pride players who have made the move North. Glenfield went some way to confirming that by reasonably comfortably beating arguably the best Auckland Football has to offer yesterday.
The defending champions were without one of their best players in Katie Rood, who was on crutches following an ill-fated tackle in last week’s Northern Women’s Premier match against Papatoetoe, but this loss was canceled out somewhat by the continued absence of Rebecca Tegg from Western Springs.
As for the game itself, well it only took eleven minutes for the home side to assert their dominance on the scoreboard. They hit the lead thanks to Belinda Van Noorden, who slotted the opening goal past an advancing Ashleigh McNaughton from the left of the penalty spot.
“NOTHING CHANGES!!!” was the loud and clear message from Rovers coach Andy Clay but only thirteen minutes later something definitely did change! His side doubled their advantage via a Briar McNamara thunderbolt after she received the ball in oodles of space on the right hand top edge of the penalty area – and drove it home.
There’s an old cliché that a two goal lead is the most dangerous in football but that was put to bed on this occasion when Rovers managed to protect theirs for over an hour! The reality was the damage had all been done and, try as they might, Springs just couldn’t seem to get themselves into the match. Perhaps they had already used up their annual allotment of miraculous comebacks in their Quarter final, when they overcame Eastern Suburbs in extra time after looking dead for all money?
Either way, Glenfield were certainly in the groove, particularly in the first half, and will be brimming with confidence when they face Massey University in the final on September 20. The venue is yet to be advised but will probably be in Auckland by all accounts.
Will Rovers overcome a virtual Central ASB Women’s League side and win back-to-back Knockout Cups? Or can the plucky Palmerston North outfit overturn the result of last season’s McFetridge Park semi-final and cause a serious boil over?
Be there to find out! I know I will be.
Categories: NZ Kate Sheppard Cup
A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: http://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/