Tricky ties in store as WPL teams face underdogs in Kate Sheppard Cup

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Four Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League clubs face potentially difficult passages to the next round of the Kate Sheppard Cup with tricky first-round ties this weekend. 

While all of them should make progress, the vagaries of cup football always make an upset possible.

Main photo: Onerahi … could pose problems for West Coast Rangers.

Here are the ties to watch:

Saturday

Tauranga City v Claudelands Rovers
Links Ave, Tauranga. Kick-off 2.30pm

Tauranga City are taking time to adjust to the higher level of play in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League after earning promotion last year from the WaiBOP W-League.

However, they should have enough firepower to see off past cup winners Claudelands Rovers who are finding it hard work so far in this year’s WaiBOP W-League with one win from their three games.

Home advantage will help Tauranga but a sudden-death cup tie might just be what Rovers need to kickstart their season.

Fencibles United v Northern Rovers
William Green Domain, Auckland. Kick-off 7.30pm

This floodlit game should see plenty of goals as Northern Rovers are proving to be the team-to-beat in the Women’s Premier League while Fencibles United are among the leaders in the NRF Conference.

Rovers have been bolstered this year by the signings of defensive duo Chelsea Elliott and Michaela Foster who played in the Kate Sheppard Cup final for Hamilton Wanderers earlier this year.

Foster is proving to be a deadly weapon, capable of scoring from set-pieces and Fencibles will need to contain her.

Sunday

Ellerslie v Papamoa
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie. Kick-off 2.00pm

Ellerslie should have too much power for Bay of Plenty side Papamoa but the Aucklanders could be vulnerable.

They were beaten 4-0 last weekend by Western Springs who punished them for running out of steam, scoring all their goals in the second half.

If the Papamoa team are fit enough and work hard in the first half, they could be in with a show.

Ellerslie need to rediscover their early-season mojo and the way forward will require them to take control of the game early.

West Coast Rangers v Onerahi
Huapai Reserve, Kumeu. Kick-off 2.00pm

This could be awkward for West Coast Rangers if the visitors from Northland are fit enough to match their work-rate over 90 minutes.

While Rangers have had seven fixtures to get into their stride, Onerahi have had only one game in their Northland Community first division, though they romped home 10-1.

Another guide to the danger posed by Onerahi might be their win in the Northland women’s knockout final at Semenoff Stadium in April when Onerahi beat Mad Hatters Stonehaven 6-1.

Whatever else, Rangers should not treat Onerahi lightly.

Other WPL teams

The remaining four WPL teams — Eastern Suburbs, Western Springs, Hamilton Wanderers, Auckland United — all get byes to the second round.

Full first round draw

First round ties to be played May 14-15, 2022.

Northern region

Lakes FC v Otumoetai
Tauranga City v Claudelands Rovers
Melville United v Onehunga Sports
Takapuna v Manukau United
Beachlands Maraetai v Cambridge
Fencibles United v Northern Rovers
Waikato Unicol v Manurewa
Greenhithe v Franklin United
Ellerslie v Papamoa
Waiuku v Hibiscus Coast
West Coast Rangers v Onerahi
North Shore United v Birkenhead United

Central/Capital region

Kapiti Coast United v Brooklyn Northern United
Petone v Miramar Rangers

Mainland region

Nelson Suburbs v Richmond Athletic
University of Canterbury v Coastal Spirit
Nomads United v FC Twenty 11
Christchurch United v Cashmere Technical

Southern region

Otago University v Queenstown
Dunedin City Royals v Green Island
Northern AFC v Roslyn Wakari

Byes

Palmerston North Marist, Mosgiel, Waterside Karori, Seatoun, Victoria University of Wellington, New Plymouth Rangers, Wellington United, Eastern Suburbs, Western Springs, Hamilton Wanderers, Auckland United.

The Kate Sheppard Cup is supported by the NZ Football Foundation.

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