As dress rehearsals go, Eastern Suburbs and Western Springs have shown that next weekend’s women’s Grand Final should be a cracker.
In their last round of the Women’s National League, Suburbs beat Springs 3-2 on Friday night at William Green Domain.
But the game produced plenty of chances for both sides and its sets up an intriguing final when the same sides meet at Mt Smart Stadium on December 18.
Suburbs rotated their squad from the previous round’s loss to Southern United, making five changes to the starting line-up, leaving top scorer Tayla O’Brien on the bench.
The Lilywhites took the lead after 15 minutes when Deven Jackson dribbled to the byline and dragged the ball back for Nicole Mettam to hook into the top corner.
Main photo: Deven Jackson proved a handful for the Springs defence with a goal and two assists. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.
Springs levelled in the 35th minute when Suburbs ‘keeper Brooke Bennett played the ball out of defence, but Springs won the ball and moved it forward quickly.
Sam Tawharu lined up a shot from 20 metres and it sailed inside the far post.
In the 38th minute, Jess Innes shot wide for Springs.
Within a minute, Jackson had regained the lead for the home side, curling a shot beneath the body of ‘keeper Angelique Tuisamoa.
Western Springs made it 2-2 just before half-time when Sofia Garcia met an inswinging Innes corner at the far post to head the ball into the net.
The winning goal came 10 minutes into the second half when Jackson again caused the damage, weaving through the Springs defence and passing the perfect ball for Nicole Cooper to slot into the goal.
After the hour mark, Springs substitute Lara Colpi made a dangerous dash down the right and shot across the face of the goal.
When the whistle went, Suburbs had the psychological advantage of the win but Springs will know the gap between the sides is not that huge — and the cup final could go either way.
Game played on Friday December 9, 2022
Eastern Suburbs 3 (Nicole Mettam 15′, Deven Jackson 38′, Nicole Cooper 55′)
Western Springs 2 (Sam Tawharu 35′, Sofia Garcia 43′)
Games to be played on Saturday December 10, 2022
Canterbury United Pride v Capital Football
English Park, Christchurch, 12pm
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