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No need to Pjanic!

Northern Football 6, New Zealand Development 3
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, October 18 2015

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New Zealand Development coach Gareth Turnbull might be scratching his head a little bit. Two games for his charges so far this year and two pretty unfortunate losses against strong opposition – first the defending champions last week and now this against the undisputed competition favourites! On both days they have dominated large chunks of the game, but both times they have failed to get any points on the board. The tough thing is that’s almost a third of the regular season games gone already for one of the ASB Women’s League’s strongest sides! But despite all that, it was a very upbeat looking coach and squad post-match, who can reflect on just how well they are playing despite the lack of any tangible rewards so far.

Northern, on the other hand, continue to make hard work of things but you can hardly quibble with two victories of the three and four goal variety! They didn’t always look too convincing against Football South last week and again this week, despite grabbing an early lead via Katie Rood, they soon found themselves 2-1 down thanks to counterattacking goals from Jacqui Hand and Samantha Tawharu. Daisy Cleverley evened things up for Northern shortly after the hour mark but the equilibrium was again broken by delight for Development when Hannah Blake made it 3-2 to the spirited youngsters with only fifteen minutes left to play.

But then something remarkable happened. Two excellent players managed pluck Northern out of the fire with two huge plays that couldn’t help but remind me of two great international sporting moments I had witnessed earlier in the day!

The first aforementioned player was Aimee Phillips, who I happen to rate as one of my favourite players to watch and this was a fantastic illustration of why. Everything she does just oozes guts and determination. She chases, presses and follows up on things few other players would see as worth the effort and it was via this modus operandi that she closed in on a Kate Williams clearance, charged it down, and then calmly slotted it to turn the match on its head. It actually reminded me of two things. One was this goal she scored in very similar circumstances against Northern last season!


And the other was this other pivotal moment in a different code that happened this morning!

(I watch one game of eggball on TV in a decade and next thing you know I’m posting videos of it on my blog… I don’t know where my life’s going… I apologise to you all…)

And she wasn’t content with that either, of course. Just a few minutes later she earned the penalty, slotted by Katie Rood, that gave Northern their lead.

Then, only moments after that, I don’t know if Emma Rolston saw this Miralem Pjanic free kick before she came down to the stadium this morning…

…but it sure did look like she was channelling the Bosnian when she bludgeoned a pretty damn similar one!

The highest goalscorer in Oceania Under 20 history then completed her brace in the 90th minute to give Northern a pretty incredible come-from-behind victory and ensure they top the table after two rounds. Two goals for Rollo was a bit disappointing though I have to say, even though she did only play half the game. With her reputation preceding her I was expecting at least 30!

In other results, Mainland defeated Central 4-1 to maintain their perfect record. South managed a fine 2-2 draw with Auckland, and Capital came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 in Hamilton! Next week we have Auckland v WaiBOP at William Green Domain, Capital v Mainland in Petone, Central v Northern in Palmerston North and Development v South back here at North Harbour.


Northern are looking ominous, but now that Development have a run of arguably easier fixtures they have a chance to present their semi-final credentials. The Mainland juggernaut rolls on, it will be very interesting to see how they go against Capital, but the game at William Green is already looking like an absolute must win for both sides! Be there or be square, I reckon…

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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