Four-goal burst by Charlotte Lancaster helps lift Suburbs clear of nearest rivals

Age group international Charlotte Lancaster has helped take Eastern Suburbs two points clear at the top of the Women’s National League with four goals against her former side.

Striker Lancaster (19) played last season for Central Football in three National League fixtures, including being on the wrong end of an 8-0 hiding by Eastern Suburbs.

She was on a two-year scholarship with A-League club Wellington Phoenix, making 12 appearances as a substitute last season.

When she was not offered a contract this year, she moved to Sydney club Northbridge Bulls.

Lancaster joined national champions Suburbs in September for the Women’s National League and her four goals in Round 6 have taken her to second place on the Golden Boot ladder, level with CF Wellington United’s Pepi Olliver-Bell, on six goals.

Western Springs’ Sofia Garcia leads the goalscoring chart with seven goals.

On Sunday, Lancaster punished Central Football with four second-half goals, helping Suburbs jump two points clear of their three nearest rivals.

Main photo: Charlotte Lancaster in action for the New Zealand U-20 side against Australia last year. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Meanwhile, goal difference could become a factor in deciding which teams contest the Grand Final.

With only three rounds left, the top four contenders are separated by two points.

Second-placed Western Springs have a potential advantage with a vastly superior goal difference (+15) than Auckland United and Southern United (both +7).

The latest round of games has seen Auckland clubs fill the top three places on the table, though Southern United remain in contention for a final berth, especially as they have the best run-in of fixtures.

Southern United, who drew 1-1 with title rivals Auckland United on Saturday, have the luxury of playing two of their final three games at home, and their opponents are all in the lower half of the competition.

Their schedule also provides an opportunity to rack up some decent margins and build a positive goal difference in case it gets tight at the finish.

Who plays who

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

Eastern Suburbs

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

Western Springs

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

Auckland United

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

Southern United

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

Results — Round 6

Game played on Saturday October 28, 2023

CF Waterside Karori 3 (Kaley Ward 44′, 67′, Renee Bacon 75′)
Ellerslie 0

Games played on Sunday October 29, 2023

Auckland United 1 (Danielle Canham 75′)
Southern United 1 (Bianca Park 12′)

Canterbury United Pride 3 (Whitney Hepburn 8′, Charlotte Mortlock 11′, Aimee Phillips 54′)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Zoe McMeeken 84′)

Eastern Suburbs 6 (Hayley Miller 21′, 48′, Charlotte Lancaster 46′, 54′, 66′, 79′)
Central Football 1 (Mikaela Bouwmeester (Boxall) 40′)

CF Wellington United 1 (Pepi Olliver-Bell 15′)
Western Springs 2 (Lily Taitimu 10′, Lara Colpi 39′)

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