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A close encounter

Norwest 0, Eastern Suburbs 3
Huapai Domain, Auckland, May 22, 2016

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Family commitments and a netball game (GO MAGIC!) took me out of football watching action yesterday, but I was back on deck and raring to go today!

My choice of game was one of heart vs head. My heart was begging me to go to McFetridge Park to watch Glenfield take on Hamilton Wanderers – because I’m always a sucker for a Waikato team. But my head said Huapai – where my local Women’s Premier club, Norwest United, were playing Eastern Suburbs. Norwest were the only team in this league that before today I hadn’t watched so far this season, and the lure of a game that was only five minutes’ drive away won out in the end. And it turned out to be the right decision! Wanderers lost 11-1…

It was a typical Auckland autumn day – if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and you’ll get an alternative. Between the heavy showers there were patches of brilliant sunshine and some compelling football.

The race for the Women’s Premier crown is becoming a bit of a one horse race. Going into this match, Three Kings had opened up an eight point lead at the top and for Suburbs and Forrest Hill Milford, leading the chasing pack, victories are essential – as they will be for the rest of the season if people want to avoid finishing up with a coronation at Keith Hay Park!

On the other side of the ledger, Norwest have been looking relatively comfortable leading the bottom half of the table in sixth place out of ten, eight points clear of relegation danger. And on today’s performance it was east to see why! They played like a team that was scared of nothing as they gave their more highly fancied opponents a real run for their money.

For the first forty plus minutes this was a story of the visitors dominating possession and chances but failing to convert that dominance into goals due to stout defence on the part of their hosts, who with a bit of luck could have struck the opening goal themselves on a couple or three occasions. Unfortunately for Norwest though, all their hard work was reduced to nought with a mere three minutes left in the first half when Deven Jackson found herself in a bit of space and struck a beautiful goal from just outside the penalty area and to the right.

The Westies might have been forgiven for taking that setback rather hard and coming out for the second half slightly demoralised. Instead, for the first half of the second stanza, it was the home side that piled on a decent chunk of the attacking pressure, coming close to an equaliser a number of times amongst chances at both ends. But after they conceded on the counter in the 69th minute, via Jackson slotting her second past the advancing figure of Norwest keeper Courtney Horler, the match was pretty well decided at that stage. The final nail in the coffin came just five minutes later when Jade Parris bludgeoned home from a bit of scrappiness at the business end of a corner.

The better team won, but Norwest were nonetheless impressive and with their next four games being vs teams that are all currently within two places of them on the ladder, there is a real opportunity for them to turn some heads in the coming weeks. Meanwhile the title chase continues for Suburbs but the fact remains that they are going to need Three Kings drop some points at some stage. And while that might happen one day, it’s looking increasingly unlikely to be this year.

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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