Eastern Suburbs have guaranteed their spot in next month’s Grand Final of the Women’s National League and their most likely opponents will be Western Springs.
That’s the scenario after Suburbs beat Rovers on Sunday, and after Western Springs lost to Capital Football on Saturday.
Springs can secure their finals berth with a win next weekend against bottom side Central Football.
Here’s our round-up of Sunday’s fixtures:
Suburbs make sure of finals place
Eastern Suburbs made sure of a place in the Grand Final with a 4-2 win against Northern Rovers at a wet Riverhills Park.
Suburbs started the game at full tilt and won a corner when Rovers ‘keeper Ellen Blount made the first of numerous saves, turning a Deven Jackson effort around the post after three minutes.
From the resulting corner, Suburbs captain Rebekah Van Dort directed her header over Blount and into the net.
Blount was in the thick of the action, making four good saves in the opening 20 minutes, and earning a yellow card for coming out of her area to break up a threatening Suburbs attack with a mistimed tackle.
Suburbs were all over Rovers, with top scorer Tayla O’Brien playing a central midfield role and Jackson creating problems for a backpedalling defence.
Jackson doubled Suburbs’ lead in the 26th minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.
Main photo: Rovers goalkeeper Ellen Blount can’t reach the goal-bound shot from Suburbs’ Deven Jackson (23).
In the 34th minute, against the run of play, Suya Haering pulled back a goal for Northern Rovers, curling a shot from 20 metres into the top right corner.
The goal sparked a revival by Rovers and they went on the ascendancy.
Suddenly, the momentum had changed and winger Leanna Ryan levelled with a clever dart into the box, nutmegging her marker and chipping over the head of ‘keeper Brooke Bennett.
Five minutes before half-time, Blount kept her side’s hopes alive again with a save, tipping a Jackson shot onto the bar.
The sides were tied 2-2 at half-time.
Suburbs had the chance to go ahead five minutes after the restart when Juliette Lucas was brought down and referee Anna-Marie Keighley pointed to the spot.
Captain Van Dort struck the penalty high and wide of the goal.
In the 66th minute, Ryan fell during a tackle by Suburbs’ Annie Byrne, prompting unsuccessful Rovers’ claims for a penalty.
The sides traded blows as play moved end to end.
In the 68th minute, Bennett saved a Ryan shot.
In the 71st minute, O’Brien shot wide for Suburbs. Then, O’Brien headed over the bar.
For Rovers, Chelsea Elliott belted a free kick from the centre circle just over the Suburbs bar.
Eventually, in the 82nd minute, O’Brien got the better of the Rovers defence, after receiving the ball unmarked outside the area. She took the ball around Blount and then squeezed a shot inside the near post from an acute angle.
Two minutes later, Byrne struck a screamer from 35 metres into the top right corner, to put Suburbs 4-2 up.
Rovers kept trying and even with five minutes of added time, they couldn’t find a late miracle.
Central grab first win of season
A determined effort by bottom side Central Football produced their first win in 12 league outings, with a 2-1 win against Southern United at Massey University.
Central had to come from a goal down and won the game with two impressive strikes from long range.
The visitors opened the scored after 26 minutes when Kennedy Bryant set up Chelsea Whittaker with a well-weighted pass, and Whittaker gave ‘keeper Annie Foote no chance.
United kept their 1-0 lead at half-time.
Central levelled in the 57th minute with their first shot of the game on target, Isla Cleall-Harding striking from the edge of the area with a shot into the top of the goal.
Sensing an upset, the home side toiled hard for the rest of the game and got a deserved breakthrough with six minutes left.
Awarded a free kick 40 metres out, Tessa Hyland struck it high and into the top of the net, putting Central in front for the first time.
Referee Jet Norris blew for full-time; the celebrations were spontaneous for Central’s players who have waited 12 rounds for the opportunity to enjoy victory.
The result ended a seven-match unbeaten run for Southern.
Games played on Sunday November 27, 2022
Central Football 2 (Isla Cleall-Harding 57′, Tessa Hyland 84′)
Southern United 1 (Chelsea Whittaker 27′)
Eastern Suburbs 4 (Rebekah van Dort 4′, Deven Jackson 26′, Tayla O’Brien 82′, Annie Byrne 84′)
Northern Rovers 2 (Suya Haering 34′, Leanna Ryan 40′)
Games played on Saturday November 26, 2022
Capital Football 3 (Renee Bacon 2′, 68′ pen, Lena De Ronde 56′)
Western Springs 2 (own goal 18′, Lara Colpi 49′)
Canterbury United Pride 7 (Charlotte Roche 15′, 28′, 82′, own goal 63′, Charlotte Mortlock 70′, 76′, Frankie Morrow 90′)
Auckland United 2 (Bree Johnson 22′, Ruby Nathan 90’+6′)
Games to be played on Saturday December 3, 2022
Western Springs v Central Football
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 12pm
Northern Rovers v Canterbury Pride
McFetridge Park, Glenfield, 1.30pm
Games to be played on Sunday December 4, 2022
Auckland United v Capital Football
Keith Hay Park, Mt Roskill, 1.30pm
Southern United v Eastern Suburbs
Venue TBC, 12pm
Game to be played on Friday December 9, 2022
Eastern Suburbs v Western Springs
William Green Domain, Pakuranga, 7.30pm
Games to be played on Saturday December 10, 2022
Canterbury United Pride v Capital Football
Venue TBC, 2pm
Northern Rovers v Southern United
McFetridge Park, Glenfield, 2pm
Game to be played on Sunday December 11, 2022
Central Football v Auckland United
Massey University, Palmerston North, 12pm
To be played on Sunday December 18, 2022
Eastern Suburbs v Western Springs or Northern Rovers
Venue to be confirmed