Women’s National League turns into anyone’s title as leading group bunches up

By Jack Sharp

Only two points separate the top five teams in the Women’s National League after a set of weekend results that shook up the leading pack.

Defending champions Eastern Suburbs went into the weekend unbeaten and as league leaders; they’re now third, on goal difference, after a 4-0 drubbing by Western Springs.

Southern United and Wellington United increased their claims for grand final contention with important wins.

Southern United beat former champions Canterbury United Pride 2-1, while a stoppage-time goal from Jemma Catherwood completed a remarkable 3-2 win for Wellington United against the Wellington Phoenix.

Main photo: Wellington United’s Jemma Catherwood (centre) … scored a late winner.

The Phoenix had led 2-0 at half-time but Wellington United showed grit to get the win.

Auckland United, who beat Ellerslie 1-0 under floodlights on Thursday, have gone to the top of the table, on goal difference.

Now the competition has passed its halfway mark, the focus goes on the remaining four rounds, and anticipation of who will get the best run-in to secure a top-two finish, and a spot in the Grand Final.

Auckland United and Wellington United have the most challenging fixtures to play.

Both clubs have to play three of the top five sides, though Wellington United get to play them all at home.

On paper, the two sides with the easiest routes to a final are Southern United and Eastern Suburbs.

Southern will be tested with a trip to Auckland United next weekend but if they can get something from that game, they finish their schedule with games against bottom-half sides.

Suburbs play three of the league’s bottom four sides in their run-in but have a tricky trip to Wellington United in Round 7.

Western Springs can’t afford to drop points and face crucial games against Wellington United (away) and Auckland United (away).

Who plays who

With four rounds left, here’s who the grand final contenders have yet to play (leading contenders in bold):

Auckland United

Southern United (h)
Phoenix Reserves (a)
Western Springs (h)
Wellington United (a)

Southern United

Auckland United (a)
Waterside Karori (h)
Central Football (a)
Ellerslie (h)

Eastern Suburbs

Central Football (h)
Wellington United (a)
Ellerslie (h)
Canterbury United Pride (a)

Western Springs

Wellington United (a)
Canterbury United Pride (h)
Auckland United (a)
Waterside Karori (h)

Wellington United

Western Springs (h)
Eastern Suburbs (h)
Canterbury United Pride (a)
Auckland United (h)


Game played on Thursday October 19, 2023

Ellerslie 0
Auckland United 1 (Bree Johnson 38′)

Game played on Friday October 20, 2023

Western Springs 4 (Sofia Garcia 24′, 67′, own goal 30′, Ela Jerez 33′)
Eastern Suburbs 0

Games played on Saturday October 21, 2023

Wellington Phoenix Reserves 2 (Ella McCann 13′, 44′)
CF Wellington United 3 (Natalie Olson 58′, Pepi Olliver-Bell 79′, Jemma Catherwood 90+1′)

Central Football 1 (Maddison Hughes 76′)
CF Waterside Karori 3 (Emma Kruszona 38′, Kaley Ward 45′, 73′)

Game played on Sunday October 22, 2023

Southern United 2 (Freya Partridge-Moore 51′, Abby Rankin 60′)
Canterbury United Pride 1 (Nicola Dominikovich 11′)

Jack Sharp

Jack Sharp is a long-time follower of club football in New Zealand and is a volunteer writer for Friends of Football.

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