Glenfield Rovers 2, Three Kings United 3
McFetridge Park, Auckland, July 31 2016
Three Kings United were crowned champions of the NRFL Women’s Premier Division with three games to spare today after coming from behind in a seesaw match to beat Glenfield Rovers at McFetridge Park. And their hard fought win today also preserved their 100% league record – fifteen wins from fifteen games!
Today’s game wasn’t the greatest display of football you’ll ever see, with both sides missing a lot of good players who have either left for opportunities overseas or are in Rio with the Football Ferns. But it was still exciting enough, as any 3-2 game is almost guaranteed to be.
Glenfield dominated the opening exchanges but as the first half wore on Three Kings, who only needed a point from the encounter to lift the trophy, started to get into the swing of things more and more and created a number of chances of their own. They were especially dangerous looking on set pieces, where they caused Glenfield keeper Alice Noyer (who I am used to seeing play in the outfield) some difficulties on a couple of occasions. And it was indeed a free kick that gave the visitors their half time lead – a stunning effort from Jess Philpott taken from a fair distance out that weaved its way in.
The weather behaved itself impeccably for the occasion. With the stormy outlook around the region it was inevitable we would get dumped on at some stage but thankfully it started raining just as the players were leaving the pitch for the break, it stopped just as they were returning and miraculously that was all we got!
Glenfield again looked the stronger of the two sides as the second half got going, and this time it paid off for them. Dayna Stevens opened the scoring for the black and golds with another fairly long range effort and then Steph Skilton, in what I understand was her last game before she too heads to the States, doubled Rovers’ tally to look for all money like they were going to spoil the Three Kings party. This was not making me a happy camper, I must admit. I have another game I want to see next Sunday and I’m sorry but I wasn’t particularly relishing the obligation of covering Three Kings two weeks in a row!
But fortunately Hannah Blake had other ideas. The New Zealand Under 17 sharp shooter levelled the scores and wrestled back her side’s grip on the trophy with around ten minutes left to play after she was released into space down the right and slotted with only the keeper to beat. She then proceeded to leave the result in no doubt when, with time almost up on the clock, she curled a free kick around the wall to score her fifteenth goal of the season in league competition.
And with that, following the whistle blowing for full time, Three Kings captain Marty Puketapu had the honour of raising the trophy aloft.
With their last three fixtures against the two Hamilton teams and Papatoetoe, they must now be firm favourites to complete the rare accomplishment of a perfect season. Assuming they manage it, it will be the first in Northern women’s top flight football since Eden did it in 1987 with a team of players that had also won all their games the previous four seasons in a row before that at Mount Wellington (thanks to Jeremy Ruane for the history lesson on this).
Three Kings have been such an outstanding side all season, who would begrudge them this slice of history besides, of course, the three sides they have left to play… For what it’s worth, however, I certainly hope they do it.
Categories: NZ Northern Women's Premier
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.