Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs have maintained their 100% winning records to stay clear at the top of the Women’s National League.
But both sides were made to work for their latest wins, with Suburbs beating Southern United 1-0 and Springs needing to find goals late in their match to beat Central Football 5-1.
Main photo: Rina Hirano scored twice in Western Springs’ 5-1 win at Central Football.
Here’s our round-up of Sunday’s games:
Suburbs grind out 1-0 win against improving Southerners
Eastern Suburbs had to work hard for their 1-0 win against the improving Southern United at Madills Farm.
The South Islanders set up with a clear plan to get players behind the ball as soon as Suburbs won possession, and it certainly put the handbrake on the domination the Lilywhites have enjoyed in their games so far.
The only blip came after 10 minutes when Southern United conceded the game’s only goal, from a set play.
Deven Jackson swung a corner to the far post and in the resulting scramble, Tayla O’Brien struck a shot that rebounded off a defender but only for Juliette Lucas to hammer into the net.
Both teams then settled down to a game in which Suburbs controlled most of the possession, being allowed to pass sideways and back while Southern organised themselves.
The bottom line was that Suburbs could not break down the United defence but were content to control the game and keep their lead.
It did not make for sideline entertainment but it was effective and the Lilywhites keep their 100% winning record.
Springs take time before finding top gear
Western Springs were made to fight for an hour by a spirited Central Football side before they rediscovered their mojo and won 5-1 at Massey University.
Springs took the lead in the fifth minute after excellent build-up play led by Rina Hirano.
She started the move with a clever backheel pass, and then took the return upfield and crossed for Emma Pijnenburg to score her first of the season.
The Aucklanders had the better of possession but were wasteful, overhitting shots that flew wide of the target.
Central, who were showing much more resistance than in their earlier games, grew in confidence and in the 25th minute, Charlotte Lancaster forced goalkeeper Angelique Tuisamoa to tip her shot over the bar.
The home side maintained the pressure after the resulting corner, sending another long ball high into the box.
After a first attempt was blocked, Maddison Hughes got her foot to the ball and forced it into the net for Central’s first goal of the season.
Going into the interval at 1-1, Central were certainly in the game, while Springs were in danger of surrendering their 100% winning record.
Central started the second spell best, and almost scored with an effort from long range that struck the crossbar.
Springs then clicked into gear, scoring twice in as many minutes.
Hirano dribbled through the defence and around the ‘keeper to make it 2-1 in the 61st minute.
Then, a minute later, Sofia Garcia crossed hard and low for Jess Innes to hammer the ball into the roof of the net.
In the 76th minute, Hirano struck her sixth goal of the national league campaign when she received the ball through a defender’s misplaced pass, turned and fired home from 12 metres.
Innes added her second goal in the 86th minute, striking low from the edge of the area, and just inside the post.
Games played on Sunday October 16, 2022
Eastern Suburbs 1 (Juliette Lucas 10′)
Southern United 0
Central Football 1 (Maddison Hughes 27′)
Western Springs 5 (Emma Pijnenburg 5′, Rina Hirano 61′, 76′, Jess Innes 62′, 86′)
Games played on Saturday October 15, 2022
Canterbury United Pride 1 (own goal 47′)
Northern Rovers 4 (Rene Wasi 19′, Kelli Brown 60′, Talisha Green 65′, Maisy Dewell 81′)
Capital Football 4 (Pepi Olliver-Bell 3′, 90’+3′, Sydnie Madison Williams 45′, Danielle Ohlsson 86′)
Auckland United 4 (Alosi Bloomfield 14′, 89′, Isabella Richards 23′, Emmelin Bowala 70′)