Eastern Suburbs and Canterbury United Pride were first day winners as the 2022 Women’s National League got underway.
Suburbs beat Capital Football 4-1 while Pride beat Central Football 3-0 as both sides showed their credentials in the new-look national competition.
Two more games will be played on Sunday.
Main photo: Tayla O’Brien completes her hat-trick, scoring from a corner.
Here’s our round-up from opening day:
O’Brien bags four as Suburbs roll 10-player Capital
Eastern Suburbs had the best possible start to the new season with a 4-1 win against Capital Football at the Petone Memorial Park.
The sending-off of Capital goalkeeper Molly Simons two-thirds into the game gave the advantage to the Aucklanders but four goals from Tayla O’Brien made sure the Lilywhites would fly home with all the points.
O’Brien scored the first goal of the 2022 season, finding the net in a goalmouth scramble after only four minutes.
Pepi Olliver-Bell levelled for the home side in the 18th minute.
O’Brien restored the margin for Suburbs with her second goal, after 35 minutes, again catching out the Capital defence when left unmarked in front of goal.
The sides went into half-time with the Lilywhites leading 2-1.
In the 63rd minute, Simons was given a straight red for denying Suburbs a goal or clear scoring opportunity. She had come out of her area to try to cancel a Suburbs attack but she instinctively raised her hand to divert a shot.
Suburbs cashed in, with O’Brien completing her hat-trick in the 66th minute, bustling home a corner.
Once she added her fourth in the 74th minute, the result was in the bag. It was a classy goal as she nudged the ball into the area, nipped between defenders and slotted it home from an acute angle.
Past champions Pride off to winning start
Canterbury United Pride began their quest for a seventh national title with a 3-0 win against Central Football at English Park.
Whitney Hepburn got the Pride on the scoreboard after 12 minutes.
Canterbury doubled their lead in the 37th minute when Chloe Bellamy scored on her debut for the Pride, joining the side after a season in Auckland with West Coast Rangers.
The teams went into half-time with Pride 2-0 up.
Just after the hour mark, former Fern Kate Loye stretched the home side’s lead to three goals, and from there, the win became increasingly inevitable.
Coach Alana Gunn used all five subs in the second half, giving her squad a decent first-game workout, and will be satisfied with three points, a clean sheet and a signal that whoever wants the 2022 title, they’ll have to outplay the Pride.
Games played on Saturday September 17, 2022
Capital Football 1 (Pepi Olliver-Bell 18′)
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Tayla O’Brien 4′, 35′, 66′, 74′)
Canterbury United Pride 3 (Whitney Hepburn 12′, Chloe Bellamy 37′, Kate Loye 62′)
Central Football 0
Games to be played on Sunday September 18, 2022
Western Springs v Southern United
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 1pm
Auckland United v Northern Rovers
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 3pm