A Friday night derby between Western Springs and Ellerslie starts the second round of games in the Women’s National League.
The floodlit match should see Springs start as favourites, and could see the return of youngsters Charli Dunn and Ela Jerez after their fortnight in Tahiti, helping New Zealand win the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship.
Main photo: Springs’ internationals Charli Dunn (left) and Ela Jerez. Photo credit: Western Springs social media.
It’s been a mind-boggling month for Jerez (15).
On September 10, she scored the winning goal in Springs’ 2-1 Kate Sheppard Final success against Wellington United.
She’s helped her national team qualify for next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
And she’s been awarded her club’s Balconys Premier Women Player of the Year.
Ellerslie lost 4-0 to the Wellington Phoenix in last weekend’s history-making debut in the national competition.
The Ponies will be encouraged by their 2-0 win against Western Springs — also at Seddon Fields — when they last met on August 20.
Britney-Lee Cunningham scored both goals in that encounter.
The Friday derby starts at 7.30pm. You can watch it live through the free FIFA+ service.
Meanwhile, the rest of the round features another Auckland derby on Sunday when Eastern Suburbs host Auckland United at Madills Farm. Both sides won their opening games last weekend.
The Wellington Phoenix, Canterbury United Pride and CF Wellington United all play their first home games of the nine-round competition.
Players to watch
Kendrah Smith (21) was impressive in midfield on her Southern United debut, having come south from West Coast Rangers.
Smith, Rose Morton and Abby Rankin contributed to a sterling midfield effort as Southern gave Eastern Suburbs a real battle.
Against a technical and quick Wellington Phoenix Reserves side, she could be important again as Southern look for their first points.
— Logan Smith
Under-20 New Zealand international and former Wellington Phoenix forward Charlotte Lancaster (19) has signed with Eastern Suburbs for the Women’s National League season.
During her two seasons with the Wellington Phoenix, Lancaster made 12 appearances off the bench and notched her first start for the club in late March.
Since then, she’s had a stint with Australian club Northbridge Bulls, a New South Wales club which has a partnership with A-League club Macarthur FC.
— Joan Grey
CF Waterside Karori striker Kaley Ward (28) has been their key figure this season, scoring 12 goals in the Women’s Central League, and already making her mark on the National League with a brilliant goal in the opening round last weekend.
The United States-born forward could have a big say in their efforts against the Canterbury United Pride, having also had past national league experience with the Capital Football women’s team.
— Harrison Ryburn
It could go down to the wire, but Eastern Suburbs have had a knack for out-duelling Auckland United.
I’m backing a 1-0 victory to Suburbs in Sunday’s derby between the two Auckland powerhouses.
— Joan Grey
Wellington Phoenix travelled to Auckland last weekend to beat newcomers Ellerslie 4-0.
This Sunday, the Phoenix host Southern United, who make the long trek from Dunedin.
Despite Southern’s fighting effort last weekend, when they lost 1-0 to Eastern Suburbs, I suspect the travel combined with the high-energy Phoenix game will be too much.
I’m picking Phoenix to win by three goals or more.
— Jack Sharp
Game to be played on Friday September 29, 2023
Western Springs v Ellerslie
Seddon Fields, Westmere, 7.30pm
Game to be played on Saturday September 30, 2023
CF Wellington United v Central Football
Newtown Park, Wellington, 1pm
Games to be played on Sunday October 1, 2023
Wellington Phoenix v Southern United
Fraser Park, Lower Hutt, 2pm
Canterbury United Pride v CF Waterside Karori
English Park, Christchurch, 2pm
Eastern Suburbs v Auckland United
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 4pm