Northern Lights 7 vs Central Football 0
Sunday 7 October, McFetridge Park
For the Northern Lights and the onlooking neutral, everything went according to script at McFetridge Park. The star-studded Lights (Aurora pun) were strong favourites against an inexperienced Central side, and the favourites prevailed.
Northern have fielded formidable elevens from the outset in this competition. They were further strengthened for this fixture by the return of two U20 Ferns, Saskia Vosper and Aneka Mittendorff. By contrast, Central were without their captain Mikaela Boxall and key defender Mackenzie Barry. It was Northern’s strength across the pitch, however, that saw them score 7 goals, with 6 names on the scoresheet, in the attacking performance they have been waiting to find.
From the kick-off, Northern dominated possession. Most of the game took place in and around Central’s defensive third, with Northern pressuring the Central back line to great effect as they tried to play out. Apart from a couple of breaks forward through their forwards, Central struggled to see much of the ball and Anna Leat was untroubled all afternoon.
That’s not to say that Central did not compete. Northern’s goal was always coming, but Central were physical and challenging to break down. For the 18 minutes it took to find the breakthrough, Helena Kelderman caused continual havoc with her pace, but Simmers made several comfortable saves as Central’s defenders preserved the deadlock. They would never have kept Northern out for 90 minutes though and eventually, Kelderman’s industry earned the goal, her cross from the right finding Sam Tawharu.
From there, Northern kept on rolling. While they missed more than a handful of chances that could have been taken, they kept the scoreboard ticking over in a marked improvement from the last two weeks. Maggie Jenkins had a brace within 8 minutes, both low strikes to the far corner. Malia Steinmetz dazzled a defender and slotted for her first of the season, Dayna Stevens scored soon after being subbed on, and Aneka Mittendorff headed home a Kate Loye corner in her first game back from a concussion. Kelderman wrapped up the scoring with a flying finish to earn a deserved goal. She was brilliant all afternoon and was awarded Player of the Round today, further proof giving her more game time was a good call.
It was a strong performance from the Lights, and they will be glad to have been more clinical this week. For Central, it was another tough weekend, but not one devoid of positives. They persisted with their objective of playing out from the back, and improved over the course of the game – by the 90th minute, they were no longer playing into Northern’s trap. Playing against so many age-group and full Ferns will have been a great experience for their young side, too. Ultimately, though, Northern’s strength outshone Central’s less experienced team.
Next week, the Lights take on the Canterbury United Pride in what’s shaping up as one of the matches of the season. With the Lights having moved into second and the Pride having cruised past everyone they’ve encountered so far, the match will tell us a lot about how this League might go. Both sides put seven past Central, but both were not at their best when they did so. The Lights will know they can be more accurate and score more goals, and the Pride will be thinking the same. It will be worth a trip to McFetridge to see the battle, and to see Northern’s improved off-pitch experience.
Northern Lights vs Canterbury United Pride: 1:00pm, Sunday 14 October, McFetridge Park.
Categories: NZ Women's National League
A lover of the game since the age of 4. Living and playing for club and school in Auckland and loving every second on the pitch (apart from the end of a losing match).