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Hobbling into summer

Northern Football 5, Central Football 1
North Harbour Stadium, Auckland, October 9 2017

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It had been so long since the last fine day in Auckland that I was starting to believe it occurred sometime around about the Palaeolithic Period – right around the time that humans first started to find uses for opposable thumbs. Then the drought (or whatever the opposite of a drought is) finally broke on Saturday and instead of celebrating the long awaited sunshine in a sensible way like going to the movies or an open day at an underground bunker I went on a ridiculous five hour bush trek.

The problem with this was, mystifyingly, the Waitakere Ranges somehow missed the it’s summer now memo, so after wading through 7.5km of mud and landing on my ass countless times I was consigned to a Sunday spent barely able to walk…

A perfect day then for my first football game of the summer season! On the North Harbour Stadium Tiger Turf. At the same time as a Mitre 10 Cup rugby game being played in the main stadium. Which necessitated parking so far away that I had to hobble to the ground from Outer Mongolia wincing in pain most of the way!

Sadly Albany didn’t seem to get the summer memo either really. There was no rain mercifully but it was was howling a gale that favoured Northern in the first half of this clash between perennial competition heavyweights in pink and black and perennial battlers in green.

And the home side used it to good effect, with Jane Barnett opening the scoring with little more than ten minutes on the clock and Dayna Stevens doubling the lead before half an hour was gone. Barnett had her second just a few minutes later to give us a three zip half time score that could have been worse for the visitors if it hadn’t been for a few spurned Northern chances as the first spell headed to a conclusion.

But as good as Northern were in the first half with the wind at their backs, the quality seemed to fall away a bit in the second spell as they battled the zephyr as well as their opponents.

After a period of scrappy play it took until around the 70th minute mark for Meisha Boone to become the first player to trouble the scorers in the second stanza, pulling one back for Central. Sadly for them though, Northern were then able to put their feet on the accelerator pedal once again via a brace from Sam Tawharu.

Early impressions of these two… It’s a little bit difficult to say from a game like that but it seems like Central are about where they have been for the past few years and Northern are a bit weaker with more developing players topping up the squad at the expense of more experienced campaigners such as Katie Rood, now at Juventus, and Tessa Berger who is taking the summer off.

Looking at the league as a whole, my Twitter prediction before the first round started looked like this:

 

Canterbury, Capital and WaiBOP look to have quite stable squads with not a large amount of comings and goings. Auckland look stronger than they have in previous years but that didn’t stop them getting beaten on Sunday by a clearly much improved Southern – an outfit that hadn’t won a game in this competition since 2013.

Canterbury comfortably dispatching WaiBOP was more in line with the script, but based on the first half of this game I may have slightly underestimated Northern. They are not a bad side on paper and may well have enough quality to get themselves into the playoffs. It will be congested though!

Their trip to Cambridge next week will be crucial for them, their opponents and my predictions. I’ll be there to eat apple shortcake and see how all three get on!

Categories: NZ Women's National League

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots football enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent club on earth - A.S. Roma. More info (including e-mail address) can be found here: https://in-the-back-of-the.net/about/

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