PREVIEW: Focus shifts to chasing pack in the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership

By Joan Grey

Auckland United and West Coast Rangers continue their stranglehold on the Lotto NRFL Women’s Premiership.

The focus now shifts to the chasing teams Fencibles United, Eastern Suburbs, Western Springs, and Ellerslie, all battling to make the top four cut for national league qualification.

Approaching the halfway mark of the season, this weekend’s four Sunday fixtures will provide more insight into the chasers’ chances.

Game of the week

Fencible United’s third place on the ladder will go on the line this weekend against fourth-placed Eastern Suburbs in a six-pointer match.

Newcomers Fencibles have taken to the Premiership like ducks to water, having won five of their first eight games.

Their young and skilful squad have a knack for grinding out results when needed, with three of their five victories having a single-goal margin.

Snapping at their heels are Suburbs, three points back but with a superior goal difference. A win for the Lilywhites would reshuffle the standings in the top-four race.

Suburbs can take confidence from the reverse fixture back in April when they dished out a 6-0 defeat to Fencibles, who had no answer for the clinical finishing of Suburbs forwards Sofia Garcia and Zoe Benson, who have 15 goals between them so far this season.

In recent weeks, Suburbs have stumbled against lower-placed teams Ellerslie and Hamilton Wanderers, while Fencibles bounced back to secure key victories.

Sunday’s crunch clash at Riverhills promises to be tense, and crucial to the National League aspirations of both.

Jess Innes … a key player in midfield for Eastern Suburbs. Photo: Phototek.

Player to watch

Midfielder Jess Innes (28) has been a crucial cog in the Eastern Suburbs midfield this season.

A veteran of the Women’s Premiership, Innes joined Suburbs in March after three successful seasons with Western Springs.

Before that, she played for Northern Lights, Forrest Hill Milford United, and Glenfield Rovers.

Bold prediction

Ellerslie have had a knack for goals in the middle of the second half. In their last three matches, they’ve scored a goal between the 64th and 65th minute.

I think Ellerslie will continue the pattern and find the back of the net around the 65th minute when they take on West Coast Rangers this weekend.

Golden Boot

9 — Shannon Henson (West Coast Rangers)
8 — Sofia Garcia (Eastern Suburbs)
7 — Zoe Benson (Eastern Suburbs), Danica Urlich-Beech (Hibiscus Coast), Rene Wasi (Auckland United)
5 — Charlotte Roche (Auckland United), Rosie Missen (Fencibles United)
4 — Bree Johnson (West Coast Rangers), Megan Lee (Western Springs)
3 — Alexis Cook (Auckland United), Maisy Dewell (West Coast Rangers), Anelise Karakostas (West Coast Rangers), Chloe Knott (Auckland United), Lily Brazendale (Hamilton Wanderers)


Games to be played on Sunday May 26, 2024

Eastern Suburbs v Fencibles United
Madills Farm, St Heliers, 1pm

Hamilton Wanderers v Auckland United
Porritt Stadium, Hamilton, 1pm

Hibiscus Coast v Western Springs
Stanmore Bay, Whangaparaoa, 1pm

Ellerslie v West Coast Rangers
Michaels Ave, Ellerslie, 3pm

Joan Grey

Friends of Football writer Joan Grey loves playing and writing about football.

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