Champions Fencibles United to face nearest rivals in season finale

By Joan Grey

Fencibles United have secured the Lotto NRFL Women’s Championship title, ensuring their promotion to next year’s Women’s Premier League.

With Fencibles’ win and Onehunga Sports’ loss last weekend, Fencibles’ first position on the ladder became unassailable with a round to go to complete the league season.

A 10-1 win by Onehunga Sports against bottom side Te Atatu in midweek closed the gap to four points but made no difference to the final table rankings.

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Fencibles United … 2023 Lotto NRFL Women’s Championship winners. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

Game of the week

Though Fencibles already have the Championship title in the bag, their top-of-the-table clash with Onehunga Sports this weekend still promises excitement and tension.

Both teams will be eager to finish their season on a high.

Last weekend, Onehunga unexpectedly went down 1-2 to Tauranga City, although playing with just one substitute, while Fencibles rose to their occasion with a dominant 3-0 victory over third-placed Franklin United.

In the most recent Onehunga/Fencibles match-up, Fencibles took a slim 3-2 upper hand.

But Onehunga has been undefeated on their home turf at Waikaraka Park this season.

They have a point to prove and will relish the opportunity to dent Fencibles’ winning streak in this final match of the Championship season.

Fencibles United goalkeeper Haniel Nguyen … a player to watch. Photo: Andrew Skinner / Phototek.

Player to watch

Keep an eye on 16-year-old Fencibles goalkeeper Haniel Nguyen, who has been an outstanding shot-stopper this season.

She has played a pivotal role in Fencibles’ impressive defensive record, conceding just 15 goals in 20 games, boasting the tightest defensive record in the league.

Nguyen can thwart strikers in 1 v 1 situations and makes crucial diving saves.

In Sunday’s match against Franklin United, she kept a clean sheet by making a stunning save to tip a curling free-kick over the crossbar.

Bold prediction

The Franklin United and Otumoetai game could be close.

Franklin have won both previous encounters with Otumoetai, though in the second match-up, Franklin needed an 84th-minute goal to triumph.

I’m picking Franklin will claim a third victory, by 2-1.


Games to be played on Sunday September 10, 2023

Manukau United v Central United
Walter Massey Park, Manukau, 1pm

Franklin United v Otumoetai
Bledisloe Park, Pukekhoe, 1pm

Onehunga Sports v Fencibles United
Waikaraka Park, Onehunga, 1pm

Te Atatu v Tauranga City
Te Atatu Peninsula Park, Te Atatu, 1pm

Joan Grey

Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football. She plays football for Franklin United.

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