Auckland clubs are threatening to take control of the Women’s National League after a second weekend of results that suggest they are significantly stronger than their southern rivals.
With Eastern Suburbs still to play on Sunday, the four Auckland clubs are unbeaten after seven fixtures, and have scored 27 goals so far.
The four non-Auckland teams fill the bottom half of the early league table, having scored only seven goals between them (and five of those were scored by Canterbury United Pride).
Pride, chasing their seventh national title, are clearly capable of footing it with the Auckland clubs but the competition needs Central Football, Capital Football and Southern United to quickly finds ways to mount some resistance.
Main photo: Western Springs … early leaders in the competition. Photo: Joan Grey.
Here’s our round-up of Saturday matches:
Foster hat-trick inspires Rovers to big win against Capital
The success of Michaela Foster’s conversion from defender to attacker was ably demonstrated when she inspired her Northern Rovers side to a 5-0 win against Capital Football at McFetridge Park.
Foster scored a treble as Rovers made clear their credentials as one of the contenders for the national league title.
The 23-year-old age-group international left Hamilton Wanderers as a defender but moved forward when becoming a crucial part of the Rovers line-up this season.
In the first half, Rovers had more of the possession and territory but could not convert it into goalscoring chances until the 41st minute when Capital failed to clear and the ball fell to Foster.
She played a quick pass and went for the return, holding off an attempted tackle to shoot into the net from eight metres.
The sides went into the interval with Rovers ahead 1-0.
Foster scored her second in the 54th minute, showing speed and strength as she went past defenders on the right flank, cut inside and lined up an angled shot with her left foot.
It beat Capital ‘keeper Katia Brown on the near post.
On the hour mark. Rovers stretched their lead to 3-0 when captain Talisha Green struck a first-time shot from 25 metres, sending it high and hard into the top of the Capital goal.
Foster grew in confidence during the second half, peppering the Capital goal with long-range efforts.
She was responsible for Rovers’ fourth goal — it might have been credited as an own goal — when in the 81st minute, she swung a vicious corner into the six-yard box and it went into the net, either directly or helped by a defender’s head.
A minute later, Rovers made it 5-0 when substitute Leanna Ryan latched onto a poor throw by goalkeeper Brown. She drove into the penalty area, picked her moment and slotted the ball wide of the ‘keeper.
The Rovers goal was rarely threatened during the match and Capital will need to quickly improve if they want to become competitive.
Springs early leaders after 3-2 win against former champions
Western Springs beat six-time champions Canterbury United Pride 3-2 in an entertaining match at Seddon Fields.
But the home side gave supporters a nerve-jangling finish when they allowed Pride to get back into the game and almost take a point.
Springs had taken a 3-0 lead after an hour and appeared to be cruising but Pride’s fightback showed why they can’t be written off.
Springs had taken the lead after half an hour when striker Sofia Garcia broke clear, veered left of the goal and steered her shot perfectly into the net.
The sides went into the break with Springs holding their 1-0 lead.
Six minutes after the restart, Springs doubled their lead and showed how they turn defence into attack in an instant.
A long clearance was controlled in midfield by Emma Pinjnenburg whose quick pass put winger Lara Colpi into the clear down the left flank.
She shook off two defenders and hit her shot from an angle into the roof of the net.
In the 58th minute, Springs made it 3-0 when Rina Hirano’s long-range effort was not cleanly taken by goalkeeper Una Foyle and the ball dropped over her head and into the net. It was credited as an own goal.
Substitute Petra Buyck pulled back a goal for Canterbury in the 78th minute when she burst through the defence and cleanly struck the ball into the top of the net.
The goal fired up the visitors and within a few minutes, they got shots on target but without the venom or accuracy needed to turn the game.
With five minutes left, Springs almost got a fourth when they put Garcia into space and her shot was tipped over the bar by Foyle.
In added time, Springs substitute Sophia Dyer ran into space and half-hit a shot that rebounded off the post and into the hands of Foyle.
In the second minute of stoppage time, the Pride gave themselves a chance of rescuing a point when Buyck scored from a long-range free-kick that evaded the defence and floated into the net.
But Springs kept their nerve and managed down the clock, taking the points and an early lead in the competition.
Auckland United overpower Southern United
Auckland United routed Southern United 7-0 in a one-sided game at Dunedin’s Logan Park.
The result reflected a high error rate by the home side’s defence and the ruthless way in which the Aucklanders punished those mistakes.
Southern United managed to hold the visitors until midway through the first half when Auckland United struck twice in as many minutes.
The first goal came when a cross was struck hard across the face of the goal by Junior Fern Milly Clegg and the ball was turned into the net by an alert Aimee Bernard.
Soon after the restart, United scored again when Ruby Nathan got the ball in space wide on the left. She fired a shot that appeared to be covered by ‘keeper Amelia Simmers but it was palmed upwards and fell into the net.
A minute before half-time, the Aucklanders scored again when Manaia Elliott hit a hopeful effort from 35 metres but Simmers miscalculated and the ball dropped over her head and into the net.
Turning around with a 3-0 lead, it didn’t take United long to add to their score.
Southern replaced Simmers with Kate Hannay but her introduction in goal didn’t stop the hesitancy of the home side’s defence.
In the 52nd minute, Johnson latched onto a long ball that was not dealt with by two Southern defenders and she steered it into the net.
Johnson got her second in the 68th minute when a free-kick was floated into the Southern box and was entirely missed by the defenders, enabling the Aucklander a simple tap-in.
The visitors extended their lead to 6-0 in the 73rd minute when another long cross was not dealt with and captain Jess Philpot was able to rifle in a shot from an acute angle.
With five minutes left, a defensive blunder gifted Auckland their seventh goal. A ball hit across the face of the goal left goalkeeper Hannay and a defender unsure and the ball bobbled over the line, credited as an own goal.
Games played on Saturday September 24, 2022
Northern Rovers 5 (Michaela Foster 41′, 54′, 80′, Talisha Green 61′, Leanna Ryan 82′)
Capital Football 0
Southern United 0
Auckland United 7 (Aimee Barnard 23′, Ruby Nathan 25′, Manaia Elliott 44′, Bree Johnson 52′, 68′, own goal 85′)
Western Springs 3 (Sofia Garcia 31′, Lara Colpi 52′, own goal 59′)
Canterbury United Pride 2 (Petra Buyck 80′, 90+2′)
Game to be played on Sunday September 25, 2022
Eastern Suburbs v Central Football
Madills Farm, St Heliers, Auckland, 12.30pm