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Palmer gives Capital renewed constitution

Capital Football 5
Southern United 1

National Women’s League
Sunday 06 November 2016
Memorial Park, Petone.

Words by Phil Clayton.
Photographs (and their captions) of this match by Michael Welsh (Dr yomcat shoots).

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Four teams are fighting out for three playoff spots in the National Women’s League. Two of them Capital and WaiBOP have previously had a draw, while Northern and Canterbury met in another game while this one was being played. While WaiBOP were beating Auckland to all but extinguish the A-team’s playoff chances, Capital hosted Southern United.

The Otago/Southland based sides have struggled in the Women’s National League over the past few seasons, very rarely have they finished other than bottom of the table. Capital have had a good base of players, capable of causing an upset on their day, but since winning it in 2010/11, lacking the something special to get to the Grand Final. When they have threatened, it’s been when they have had a player who can lift the rest of the team’s quality. Hannah Wall a few years ago brought that spark to Capital, whose performances were notably reduced when she was absent.

This year Capital have someone who can provide that spark. Able to be a danger out wide, to give space for the other pacey players to make inroads. The return of former Waterside-Karori and NZU-17/U-20 international, Briar Palmer, who recently had a spell at Melbourne Victory in the W-League.

Palmer and Katie Barrott were having a lot of fun down Capital’s left wing. Flicking the ball to each other, beating opponents and receiving the ball back. The bloke next to me muttered… they’re taking the piss it’s a bit early for that.

After quarter of an hour, Capital’s Kennedy Bryant, playing in midfield in front of the back four, lobbed a ball through into the Southern penalty area. The ball held up in the wind. Capital’s Michaela Robertson attacked it and collided with Caitlin Taylor-Lynch, Southern’s goalkeeper. Robertson was injured and was later replaced, but for a while Capital continued with 10 players.

In the 19th minute, Palmer sneaked in to the penalty area, beating the offside trap. She had time to perform a stepover to wrongfoot the goalkeeper before using her left foot to place it into the corner of the net to give Capital a 1-0 lead.

Lena de Ronde came on for Capital to replace Robertson. Emma Main moved to central striker to replace Robertson with Maggie Jenkins taking her place wide right. De Ronde joined Bryant in central midfield.

In the 25th minute, Katreena Drake had a shot from outside the area for Southern. It had neither the power nor accuracy to trouble the keeper—at first— until Stephanie Lee reached it before the Capital goalkeeper to equalise.

Despite the setback and playing into the wind, Capital were creating chances but not converting them. Typically, they would come down the wing and cut it back to top of the penalty area where a midfielder would shoot over the top or straight at the goalkeeper.

Southern had a player up-front and a big gap back to the midfield and defence. They were playing long diagonal balls with the wind behind them to try to escape the territorial advantage that Capital were having over them.

Shortly before halftime, Bryant played the ball through to Main. Taylor-Lynch came out the penalty area and tripped the Capital striker as Main pushed the ball past her—near but outside of the attacking left corner of the penalty area—yellow card. Maggie Jenkins shot the resulting free-kick over the wall and down onto the underside of the crossbar at the near post, and it bounced into the goal to give Capital a 2-1 lead.

The lead was almost extended from kick-off as a Palmer cross was flicked almost into her own goal by a Southern defender. There were penalty claims for the rebound as there looked to be a push near the edge of the penalty area. Capital led 2-1 at half-time.

It took 36 seconds of the second half for Capital to extend their lead. Palmer’s shot palmed away by the Southern keeper. Main reached the ball and cut it back to Jayme Lee-Hunter who put it into the net.

It was quickly 4-1 as Main got in front of the Southern defender in the 50th minute and placed a low cross from the right that was met at the far-post for a tap-in by Jenkins.

It was 5-1 after an hour. A Briar Palmer corner from the right was swung in over the goalkeeper towards the back post with Mikaela Hunt and a Southern defender battling to get a touch. Some, who were closer to the goal than me, were sure it didn’t get a significant touch before it crossed the goal-line. Have a look at the photos and see whether you can work it out.

The match deteriorated, as with the result assured, both teams interrupted play to make their many substitutions.

Capital created chances until the end. In the 88th minute the Southern crossbar was rattled twice within seconds, as one of the substitutes Emily Morison flicked a Palmer cross onto the frame of the goal, and Main did the same to the rebound.

Capital will travel to Canterbury United Pride (13 November 2016) full of confidence, unbeaten, playing good football, with a star player and knowing that they have other players who can hurt teams. The following week Capital will have another tough test vs champions and current league leaders Northern.

Words by Phil Clayton.
Photographs (and their captions) of this match by Michael Welsh (Dr yomcat shoots).

For another perspective, read the match report and view other photos from The JourneyFan.

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Phil Clayton

Phil Clayton's feet are registered with Brooklyn Northern United but—despite having moved back to Wellington from Christchurch in 2011—his heart is still bonded with Coastal Spirit FC.

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