Canterbury United Pride 3
Capital Football 1
National Women’s League
Sunday 13 November 2016
English Park, Christchurch.
Capital were unbeaten in the Women’s league this season but had yet to play the big two—Northern or Canterbury (who had won the between them the previous 5 titles). Canterbury United Pride (a name change from previous seasons, Mainland Pride) had dropped points this season only against Northern (the previous week when they let a lead slip).
Canterbury took the lead early. Annalie Longo was brought down on the edge of the penalty area (attacking left of centre) and put the free kick over the wall and into the goal at the near post with Capital’s goalkeeper not moving to give Pride a 1-0 lead in the 8th minute.
Capital had a similar chance in the 20th minute. Maggie Jenkins couldn’t repeat her free-kick the previous week against Southern, as this one went over the top.
Midway through the first half, there was a play which epitomised this match. The Pride were sitting deep and giving Capital room. It meant that players such as Katie Barrott and Briar Palmer couldn’t flick the ball past Emma Clarke and run around her to get it, and they couldn’t play the ball in behind the deep defence for their speedy attack (minus Michaela Robertson who was injured against Southern the week before). In this play, Palmer was reduced to shooting from distance and Pride goalkeeper Vic Esson made a comfortable catch.
The Pride hit the Capital crossbar from a corner shortly before halftime. But in first-half stoppage time, Longo grabbed her and Pride’s second goal. Clarke put a lovely-weighted ball through to Longo who shot low across the goalkeeper from attacking right to left, into the bottom corner to give the Pride a 2-0 halftime lead.
Pride seemed content to keep possession and their passing was drawing-in Capital players and the speed of ball movement was too sharp as it was passed around them. But it came at the expense of not creating very many opportunities.
It looked like Pride would cruise to a comfortable win, but they were given a fright when in the 86th minute Jenkins shot across the goalkeeper to pull one back for Capital. 2-1.
The Pride went down the other end and the ball reached Arna Roberts on the attacking right inside the penalty area. Her volley smashed the inside of the far post and into the net to put an emphatic stamp on the scoreline.
The match finished 3-1 to the Pride.
A former Pride player commented to me about the amount of space between the Pride defence/midfield/forwards and said that would have never happened in previous years. Noting that when the ball went forward the leading players were somewhat isolated. She was disappointed that Pride didn’t take the game more to Capital. But Capital have upset Pride in the past.
Sitting deep to prevent there being space in behind has its drawbacks when trying to attack, yet the Pride still managed to score 3. Pride denied Capital the spaces where they wanted to play and gave Capital players space where they would rather have been tight. Pride got the tactics right in terms of gaining points. Was it the attacking display the more-demanding fans would have liked to see? No, but sometimes champion teams need to do what it takes to get the results against potentially tricky opponents.
It was a double-header of matches between Canterbury and Wellington based teams. I’d pencilled in the Pride v Capital match to plan a visit to Christchurch visit for. That Canterbury United Dragons were to play Wellington Phoenix U-20s in the SS Premiership straight after was a nice bonus. Dragons won that match 4-1 and red cards saw WeeNix were reduced to nine players.
Categories: NZ Women's National League
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.