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Pink turns to blue

Capital Football 2
Northern Football 1

National Women’s League
Sunday 20 November 2016
Memorial Park, Petone.

Northern played in their change kit of blue rather than their usual pink/black hoops. Perhaps they were expecting Capital to be in predominantly black rather than the bright yellow they’re wearing this season?

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

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Capital were looking to bounce back from their first loss of the season (at Canterbury United Pride the previous week), while reigning champions Northern had won all their matches so far this season. With 3 teams making final/playoffs and the top 4 playing each other, this round could be decisive or throw the league wide open.

Northern stated brightly with Katie Rood heading over in the 4th minute.

Capital responded soon after. Maggie Jenkins shot was saved by Northern goalkeeper Anna Leat. The press from Capital paid off as the ball was lost from Leat’s throw-out and Michaela Robertson’s shot was saved by Leat.

There was a stoppage in the 12th minute as one of the Assistant Referees went down injured. Perhaps hit by a stray golf ball from the course next door to the ground?  But more likely a muscular injury. A couple of minutes later and he’d changed places with the 4th official, in time to see a Briar Palmer cross fizz across the face of goal where an unmarked Emma Main was unable to get a decisive touch on it at the far post.

Northern with a slight breeze at their backs had the better of the rest of the first half. Northern captain Liz Milne failed to put a free header on target, and Capital goalkeeper Anna Wittman-Wenzel tipped over a Kate Loye shot shortly before half-time.

Ten minutes after halftime, Leat tipped a powerful shot from Palmer over the crossbar. From the resulting corner, taken by Palmer, Leat was unable to hold on to the ball, which found its way to the back post where it was scrambled in by Jayme Lee-Hunter. Capital taking the lead 1-0.

The goal fired-up Northern and, after a short period of pressure on the Capital goal, the ball was cut back to Jane Barnett who smashed a powerful shot into the net from the edge of the penalty area to make it 1-1.

Not long after the midway point of the second half, some nice interplay between Emma Main and Hunter ended with Katie Barrott shooting high. The ball dipped, so Leat had to again tip it over the bar. Another Briar Palmer corner. It was initially dealt with by the Northern defence, but the ball went back out to Palmer who put in another cross. Emily Morison (who had entered the play as sub 3 minutes earlier) met it on the volley and slammed it goalwards. Leat did well to get fingertips to the ball, but it was too well-struck for more than a minor defection as it gave Capital a 2-1 lead.

Northern threatened to repeat their trick of equalising quickly, but Wittman-Wenzel was out quickly to use her legs to thwart sub Arabella Maynard.

This galvanised Capital as they upped their steely efforts to nail down the 3 points. The defensive organisation and work rate from the likes of Mikaela Hunt and Tessa McPherson saw them dig in and the champions’ chances were few. A notable exception being a shot which went just over the top from Nicole Stratford who pushed forward for Northern late on. Capital claimed a 2-1 win and at least a place in the playoffs.

The result has thrown the league up for grabs for the 4 teams who have the playoffs in near reach.

Capital have the bye in the next round, so will wait to see who joins them in the playoffs/final.

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

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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