By Joan Grey
With just five games to go in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Championship, there’s lots on the line.
Some teams strive for promotion to the Women’s Premier League while others fight against the drop to the Women’s Conference.
This weekend, second-placed Onehunga Sports play third-placed Franklin United in what could prove a decisive encounter for both sides’ promotion chances.
Game of the week
Te Atatu and Manukau convene on Sunday at Manukau’s Walter Massey Park for a significant match.
Victories have been hard to come by for Te Atatu and Manukau, and both have picked up just three wins out of their sixteen games.
If there’s ever a time to collect three points, it’s this weekend.
The season ends in five weeks, and the pressure of relegation is mounting for the three bottom teams: Manukau, Te Atatu, and Central United.
The final standings of the three bottom teams will likely come down to the match results against one another.
Player to watch
Franklin United’s Keely Taylor is a multi-faceted player, equally strong on the field and between the posts.
Taylor (25) started the season for Franklin in the backline, executing crucial tackles and interceptions. But in the absence of a goalkeeper mid-season, Taylor stepped back into goal to keep Franklin in the race at the top.
A seasoned goalkeeper, Taylor was the shot-stopper for Pukekohe AFC and Papakura City FC in the Women’s Conference and Premier Leagues in previous years.
Last year she played in goal for the Western Springs National League team, helping them finish runners-up in the competition.
Sitting mid-table, Tauranga City and Otumoetai are separated by three points heading into Sunday’s Tauranga derby at Links Ave.
Tauranga City’s Abi Collins has scored seven goals in the past four games and is leading the goalscorer chart with 15 goals.
I’m predicting Collins to score in a hard-fought goal-laden contest on Sunday.
Game to be played on Thursday August 3, 2023
Otumoetai v Tauranga City
Links Ave, Mt Maunganui, 6.45pm
Game to be played on Friday August 4, 2023
Fencibles United v Central United
William Green Domain, Pakuranga, 7.30pm
Games to be played on Sunday August 6, 2023
Manukau United v Te Atatu
Walter Massey Park, Mangere East, 1pm
Franklin United v Onehunga Sports
Drury Sports Complex, Drury, 1pm
Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football. She plays football for Franklin United.