WaiBOP 3, Northern 5
John Kerkhof Park, Cambridge, October 22 2017
Last time I watched WaiBOP play in the National Women’s League they came back from 2-0 down to shock a star studded Northern team 3-2 at North harbour Stadium and qualify for the semi-finals at the expense of the pink and blacks. It was one of my favourite football games of all time.
Fast forward eleven months, and my first road trip of the summer to one of my favourite football haunts to watch one of my favourite football teams was an important rematch. Maybe even a grudge match!
It’s a short competition – only six games for each team – so even though it’s only round two we are already on the brink of do-or-die time. These two sides may well be rivals for that third and last play-off spot so this was a virtual six pointer. And all concerned should have been acutely aware that the rest of the competition will be a struggle for whoever came out of this one with little to show for it.
Northern were coming off a disappointing second half against perennial competition strugglers in Central Football. WaiBOP were coming off a bad loss to competition heavyweights Canterbury United. Putting these two things together, weaving my way along State Highway 1B, I thought a rather interesting afternoon was in store watching two evenly matched sides. And so it proved…
…even though this time it was my beloved WaiBOP who were the victims of the old two goal lead curse.
Leanna Ryan got the scoring underway in just the 5th minute when she broke free and lofted a lovely shot over the outstretched arm of Northern keeper Emily Couchman. And six minutes later Kim Maguire doubled the home side’s lead when she got on the end of a failed clearance.
The rest of the first half saw chances at both end as both sides gave away a lot of possession but as the break drew closer I got the sense that a Northern goal wasn’t far off. They just needed to pull the trigger rather than wait for the perfect chance. The penny dropped on this front when former WaiBOP star Kate Loye looped one past Georgia Candy from distance just a minute short of the 45, and then sure enough an injury time Dayna Stevens strike restored parity just before the half time whistle sounded.
A fifteen minute horror spell for WaiBOP effectively ended their chances of a home win starting with Loye’s second in the 53rd minute followed by a Cara Lonergan goal two minutes later. Northern’s fifth and final was netted by Dayna Stevens 22 minutes from time.
There were opportunities at the clubroom end for WaiBOP to pull themselves back into the match. Kim Maguire took one of them neatly with her back to goal with eight minutes left in the 90 but it was too little too late and that was the last time the scorers were troubled in the match.
Elsewhere, Auckland got an important 2-1 win over Capital and Central managed a 3-1 victory over last week’s surprise victors Southern. This leaves the middle of the table congested and theoretically the semi-final race wide open. Still, if WaiBOP, currently propping up the table, lose to Southern in Dunedin next week it’s probably season over. Likewise Capital will be looking for a strong performance against Central in Petone. Meanwhile I will be watching the competition’s two unbeaten sides, Northern and Canterbury, square off at North Harbour. Both sides will want to win that one to give themselves a level of comfort before they lose their Ferns for a couple of weeks while the National Team travels to Thailand for two games.
Kick-off is at 1pm on Sunday. I’ll see you there!
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.