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Capital Football 1
Central Football 0

National Women’s League
Saturday 28 October 2017
Petone Memorial Park.

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

I’d seen the previous week’s Auckland v Capital match via YouTube highlights, and noted that it seemed Capital were playing very narrow. To see whether this was a material change from last year (when width was one of Capital’s strengths), I positioned myself behind the goal line to better judge the lateral play.

Capital reached the 2016 National Women’s League final, and during that season had found much joy wide especially on the left; Katie Barrott and Briar Palmer combining to cause havoc for most right-sided defenders. Palmer has since moved to ESOF Vendée La Roche in France. Capital have changed their squad in other areas, so a fresh style of playing would not be too surprising.

In this match in the third round of the 2017 league, instead of the ball being played out wide, most times it was through the centre. From the goalkeeper or back 4, with width achieved only on the rare occasions Kennedy Bryant (playing in front of the back 4) managed to find Barrott. The Capital full-back is playing on the right this season.

On the opposite flank was Libby Boobyer at left back. Boobyer has previously played National League with Northern, and Central, and played centre-midfield for Petone in Capital Premier this winter. Boobyer and Barrott both had the space in front of them occupied by the wide players in the front three and their markers. There wasn’t often an overlap, and the times Boobyer did get forward to receive the ball it was nearer the penalty area than the sideline.

Capital looked to be playing a 4-2-1-3 with the front 3 rotating, and Maya Hahn/Bex Jefferies alternating in centre behind the front 3 (Michaela Robertson/Sarah Gregorius/Emma Main). Central played a 4-4-2 with diamond midfield.

The two formations meant that the centre of the park was congested. One would expect that Central would win the midfield with the 4, but the pressing of the Capital front-3 plus Hahn/Jefferies meant that they forced turnovers regularly.

Capital were creating chances, but Central were keeping the pressure on. Closing the strikers down when they took a touch, which led to Capital players attempting quick shots, but they were rushing and hitting underneath the ball, putting it over the crossbar.

Capital should have scored several times in the first half, but spurned their chances.

Central had two great opportunities. Tilly James was one-on-one with Capital goalkeeper Cushla Lichtwark but the keeper blocked the shot.

After half-hour, James was again one-on-one with Lichtwark, but the keeper forced her wide and the resulting shot was cleared off the line by a Capital defender.

Capital’s goal came 10 minutes into the second half. Libby Boobyer took on her marker wide on the left, beat her and delivered a cross which was cleared to Maggie Jenkins who, on as a sub, used her first touch of the game to smash it into the top right corner of the goal. The sub of Jenkins for Robertson opened some room, as Jenkins didn’t occupy the wide spaces that the front 3 had, hanging back slightly instead. This allowed for the space that Boobyer had to take on her marker and deliver the cross which led to the goal.

Gregorius was struggling to run: cramp or possibly a sore ankle midway through the half, but semi-recovered and continued soon after. A lobbed shot from the retired Football Fern hit the crossbar from left of centre. She eventually subbed off with ten minutes to go, replaced by Jade Morrissey.

Central were more frequent than Capital with their subs during the second half, and their fresher legs in what was a warm day by Wellington standards saw them finish strongly.  Especially in the last 5 minutes where a Meisha Boone header from a corner was cleared off the line acrobatically by Boobyer, and a couple of minutes later Bryant made a valiant block from Sarah Morton after a flick through from Boone.

Capital held on to their narrow margin to win 1-0, and join Central on 3 points (although Capital have played one fewer match).

Central play in Auckland in Palmerston North on Sunday 5 November 2017, while Capital travel to WaiBOP for their next match.

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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