By Logan Smith
The Women’s South Island League’s most fancied sides all go on the road this weekend, with Cashmere Tech, Coastal Spirit and Dunedin City Royals drawn away this Saturday.
With the competition entering its third round, the three fixtures will offer a good picture of the perceived gap between the three sides and the rest, or perhaps whether such a perception is deserved altogether.
All matches kick off at 12.30pm on Saturday.
Nelson Suburbs welcome Dunedin City Royals to Saxton Fields for the first-ever clash between the teams, while Otago University entertain Cashmere Technical at the Dunedin Artificial Turf for their maiden competitive match-up.
In Christchurch, UC Football are the nominal home team against Coastal Spirit at English Park, with both teams seeking their first win in the 2023 rendition of the league.
Game of the week
UC Football will be disappointed with a solitary point from their first two games, and on Tuesday night were thumped in local cup action by Cashmere Technical.
It doesn’t get any easier with Coastal Spirit their next task, however, Spirit goal-getter Britney-Lee Nicholson is away with Māori Football commitments.
Coastal came into the league as favourites on paper, but a postponement against Otago University and a defeat to the Royals leaves them currently bottom with no points. It’s critical they get their campaign back on track with victory against UC.
It’s typically a fixture that Coastal have dominated in recent years with big wins, but a narrow 1-0 scoreline in the Kate Sheppard Cup in May will give UC hope of an upset result.
Player to watch
Back at her hometown club Nelson Suburbs this season, Amelia Abbott (21) stands out as their biggest name with age group caps and one senior international for the Football Ferns. She’s been an influential figure for them and scored twice in the opening round against UC.
Against a visiting Royals side brimming with confidence from recent wins and offering a multitude of attacking threats, Suburbs will need her to put in a strong shift if they’re to get anything out of the game.
The goals have been flowing so far in this competition, with all sides having shown sufficient attacking threat and scored at least two goals across the opening two rounds.
Moreso, typically watertight sides such as Dunedin City Royals and Coastal Spirit have been letting goals slip of late, with Coastal shipping four last week and the Royals seven games without a clean sheet.
I think the flow of goals will continue — no clean sheets for anyone in the third round.
Games to be played on Saturday , 2023
Otago University v Cashmere Technical
Dunedin Artificial Turf, Dunedin, 12.30pm
University of Canterbury v Coastal Spirit
English Park, Christchurch, 12.30pm
Nelson Suburbs v Dunedin City Royals
Saxton Fields, Nelson, 12.30pm
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.