By Logan Smith
Canterbury United Pride and Ellerslie are yet to win a game with three rounds played of the Women’s National League, and with a short nine-round competition, it’s imperative both start putting points on the board soon.
They meet at English Park in a 4pm kick-off this Saturday, with both needing a win to lift them into midtable.
Canterbury began with defeat away to a tough Auckland United team, but have since had more concerning results with a 4-1 capitulation at English Park against CF Waterside Karori and then needing to come from 2-0 down against perennial strugglers Central Football to earn a draw.
It’s unfamiliar territory for the Pride, who have won six National League titles, including as recently as 2020, and had multiple A-League Women players come through, such as Kate Taylor.
With a strong core drawn from South Island League champions Cashmere Technical and Kate Sheppard Cup semifinalists Coastal Spirit, ambitions would have certainly been much higher than their current 8th place and solitary point would indicate.
Their rivals this Saturday, Ellerslie, may perhaps have been expected to find things tough, but have found the welcome to National League level particularly bruising with three losses in as many games, and fifteen goals conceded.
First came comfortable losses to Wellington Phoenix Reserves and Western Springs, before a disappointing 5-2 collapse against Wellington United after leading 2-0 at the hour mark.
Despite being unable to record a win so far, Canterbury United Pride haven’t been struggling to score, netting in all three games for a total of five goals.
Māori Football representative Britney-Lee Nicholson has been responsible for two of those, but poses known prowess with an incredible fifteen goals in ten games for Coastal Spirit in the Women’s South Island League.
She’s been selected for the Futsal Ferns squad due to play at a three-nation tournament in the Philippines starting on Wednesday so it would not surprise if she’s excluded from the Pride line-up.
Nicola Dominikovich and Charlotte Roche, who played with Cashmere Technical this winter season, also form part of a strong Pride attack that may make them favourites against an Ellerslie defence leaking goals.
Ellerslie certainly boast less experience than the Pride and are set for one of their biggest away trips of the year.
Against the odds, they may opt to play counter-attacking football, but much will depend on getting Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier topscorer Britney Cunningham-Lee more involved than she has been in the first few games.
Main photo: Ellerslie defender Mia Collins and goalkeeper Petra Wedlake protect their goal in a Lotto NRFL Women’s Premier League fixture. Photo: Jackie Tran Van / Phototek.
Canterbury United Pride
Amber Bennett, Una Foyle, Scarlett Gray, Madeleine Iro
Shannan Delany, Ellena Firth, Lily Fisher, Xanthe Jane, Grace Johns, Ashley Mclean, Olivia Paul, Meg Simpson, Georgia Smith
Jonelle Arthur, Jasmine Barney, Chloe Bellamy, Amber De Wit, Rosie Hayman, Whitney Hepburn, Darsha Keogan, Amelia McAllister, Anna McPhie, Charlotte Mortlock, Denva Perrott, Abigail Platt, Minah Van Dam, Maia Wilkinson, Dorothy Yek
Lainey Altieri-Need, Khara Bouterey, Petra Buyck, Nicola Dominikovich, Lisa Evans, Elise Jackson, Sara Mann, Isla McPherson, Laura Newman, Britney-Lee Nicholson, Alison Noniewicz, Aimee Phillips, Katie Pugh, Charlotte Roche, Giselle Rynvos, Jayda Stewart, Lara Wall
Petra Wedlake, Alex Loo, Nadia Olla, Kelsea King
Courtney Beale, Tayla Hawes, Kim Oosterbeek, Anita Trudgen, Abby Wright, Paige Ihaka, Mia Collins, Dalila Mosca
Leigh Aitken, Hollie Leona, Cat Pretty, Ella James, Marilia Rocha Xerez Braga, Lyric Davison
Vibha Godha, Cilla Fa’afua, Kat Gow, Britney Cunningham-Lee, Hannah Barclay, Julia Robinson, Sarah Jessup
Games to be played on Saturday October 14, 2023
Canterbury United Pride v Ellerslie
English Park, Christchurch, 4pm
Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League. Sout.