PREVIEW: Southerners look to previous upset as spur to beat defending champs

By Logan Smith

Memories of last season’s encounters with Eastern Suburbs may be the inspiration needed by Southern United to get their Women’s National League season off to a winning start.

The teams meet on the artificial turn in Dunedin on Sunday in the first round of the expanded league.

The fixture may come with an extra level of interest following two tight matches last year when the results belied the table gap between eventual champions Suburbs and Southern United who finished fifth, 16 points behind the Aucklanders.

The first of the two games saw Eastern Suburbs edge a tight contest 1-0 at Madills Farm, with Southern doing much better than expected after big early losses to Western Springs and Auckland United.

In the second fixture, more remarkably, in Dunedin, Southern United staged a real upset, with Chelsea Whittaker scoring a 92nd-minute winner to complete a 2-1 comeback win against table-toppers Suburbs.

Main photo: Southern United players celebrate at the final whistle last year.

How Southern United upset Eastern Suburbs 2-1 in Dunedin.

With that being the only time the sides have met in Dunedin, the memories of that December match may just embolden Southern with the belief to pull off another upset, while Suburbs will want to put it behind them and secure an opening day win.

Eastern Suburbs, led by coach Stephen Hoyle, come into the game after a strong winter season but with no silverware to show for it, losing in the Kate Sheppard Cup semi-finals to Wellington United and finishing as runners-up to Auckland United in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League.

They have a strong squad with depth but will be without one-cap Football Fern Deven Jackson who has signed with A-League club Canberra United.

READ MORE: Eastern Suburbs’ Deven Jackson signs for A-League club Canberra United >>>>

Eastern Suburbs … can they repeat last year’s title-winning form? Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.

After the move to form hybrid federation/club teams in Wellington, Southern United are one of three remaining federation teams (the others are Central Football and Canterbury United Pride).

In 2022, after a rough start, they solidified and became one of the toughest teams to break down, eventually finishing fifth.

Most of this year’s squad comes from Dunedin City Royals and Otago University, who competed in the Women’s South Island League, with selections also from local clubs Roslyn-Wakari and Green Island.

Three players — Kendrah Smith (21), Shania McIntosh (23) and Marissa Porteous (19) — have signed from Auckland club West Coast Rangers, who missed qualification for the national competition.

Shania McIntosh …  one of three West Coast Rangers players to be included in the Southern United squad. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Southern United squad

Lauren Paterson, Hayley Julian, Amy Simmers

Hannah Mackay-Wright, Toni Power, Samantha Woolley, Jemma Wilson, Marissa Porteous, Tahlia Roome, Freya Partridge-Moore, Saffron Hare

Rose Morton, Maddy McCormick, Kendrah Smith, Abby Rankin, Katie Mawdesley, Jemma McCormick, Shania McIntosh

Jemma Wilson, Margarida Dias, Amy Hislop, Georgia Kennedy, Zara Pratley, Bee Park, Raegan Potter

Kris Ridley will again lead be United’s head coach.

Eastern Suburbs squad

Brooke Bennett, Caelan Tremain

Kenya Brooke, Erinna Wong, Kate Williamson, Yukino Nishizono, Laney Strachan, Arya Blackler, Hannah Saxon, Jo Sargisson

Hayley Miller, Zoe Benson, Charlotte Wilford Carroll, Ella Findlay, Olivia Erskine, Saki Yoshida, Nicole Cooper, Nicole Mettam, Emily Gillion

Charlotte Lancaster, Annie Byrne, Tayla O’Brien, Aimee Atkins, Emily Lyon, Sophia Dyer, Shion Hwang

How to watch

The game will be one 46 Women’s National League games to be live-streamed under the new content partnership between NZ Football and FIFA+.

READ MORE: ‘Gamechanging’ deal to provide more live-streaming of football than ever before >>>>


Game to be played on Sunday September 24, 2023

Southern United v Eastern Suburbs
Logan Park, Dunedin, 2pm

ROUND 1: New-look Women’s National League gets underway >>>>

READ MORE: Your guide to the weekend’s big fixtures … all on one page >>>>

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

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