Claudelands 5, Three Kings 2
Galloway Park, Hamilton, July 30 2017
It’s been a while! The last NRFL Women’s Premier fixture I attended was two months ago, almost to the day. Since then it’s fair to say that things have developed a bit. But despite the thirty six odd games that have been played since then, it appears that we are no closer to knowing who will be crowned champions. That’s because it’s going right down to the wire, due in no small part to this little gem of a match that produced a real shock result.
And it wasn’t just a shock in terms of who won, but even more so in terms of the trouncing they dished out to the defending champions, league leaders and a club that had a perfect season in 2016.
Three Kings United may have been missing their top markswoman in Hannah Blake, but despite that handicap they still scored enough goals to win (three if you count the one they put into their own net). Instead it was at the other end of the pitch that they suffered the most as every time their attack got them back into the match, their defence found a way to undo all the hard work.
Claudelands seized the early advantage in just the fifth minute via Ella Golding, only for Three Kings to enjoy the first of their two comebacks when Rebecca Burrows scored shortly before the half hour mark. The visitors’ joy only lasted a minute though. Kelli Brown dealt another blow to the team in teal in the 30th minute. 2-1 was the half time score.
Burrows drew Three Kings level once again in the 48th minute, but once again it was a short lived equilibrium. Eileish Hayes the scorer this time, straight from the restart.
I’m sure it can’t be fun clawing your way back into a match only to see your opponents celebrating a goal only moments later. Once would be annoying. Twice would be soul destroying. And after the second time it happened, Three Kings looked done. An own goal on the hour mark and then Kelli Brown’s second nine minutes later completed the scoring.
Despite this, the title race is highly likely to remain a two horse race for the league title between leaders Three Kings and Eastern Suburbs, who trail by two points with a game in hand after they also stumbled to a team called Rovers on Sunday. Kings have one game left against lower table Forrest Hill Milford, who no longer need to win to be sure of avoiding the relegation playoff we still don’t know will eventuate…
Suburbs have a game against the same opposition, as well as one against Claudelands – who all of a sudden look like they themselves could just about emerge as champions! They have a tough run home though. As well as Suburbs they must face third placed Glenfield plus two catch-up local derbies against a Hamilton Wanderers club fighting for its existence – and Claudelands must win them all while hoping FHM pull off a win at Keith Hay Park. An unlikely scenario.
What am I hoping for?
It’s a hard one, as a Waikato football loyalist. I’d love to see Claudelands win the title again, but that would mean we would have to say sayonara to Wanderers after two seasons in the NRFL and I really don’t want to do that.
If they are relegated it will mean the end of that squad and WaiBOP football will undoubtedly take a step backwards with only one representative and no local rivalry. Whoever replaces the club form Porritt will in all probability be easybeats in next year’s competition whereas, although they have obviously not been getting the results they need to stay up, Wanderers do have a good team that will only consolidate and improve with time.
I like one of the suggestions on the Northern League forum that, should they finish ninth, Wanderers should be WaiBOP’s reps in the playoffs instead of the likes of Tauranga City United (current WaiBOP women’s Premier leaders).
If we are going to have an eight team league next year it needs to be the eight strongest teams possible or it surely defeats the purpose.
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.