PREVIEW: Six-team Women’s South Island League gets underway in Dunedin

By Logan Smith

Following the conclusion of qualifying leagues in the Southern and Mainland regions, six teams will gather for the second season of the Women’s South Island League, with two fixtures scheduled for the opening weekend.

Dunedin City Royals and Otago University return after finishing first and second, respectively, in the Southern region qualifying league, while Roslyn-Wakari will make their competition debut after defeating UC Football in a play-off match.

Reigning champions Cashmere Technical come in having won the Mainland region qualifying league, and must be league favourites with a talented squad including Football Fern and Wellington Phoenix midfielder Annalie Longo.

Technical are having an outstanding season.

READ MORE: Ferns midfielder Annalie Longo makes return with Cashmere Technical >>>>

Coastal Spirit and Nelson Suburbs also qualified from the Mainland region, both of whom competed in the league in 2023.

The new competition kicks off on Saturday at the Multi Sport Turf in Dunedin, with the Royals hosting Coastal Spirit.

While they have experienced some squad turnover, the hosts are on a good run of form and should be favourites. Spirit have had a troublesome season so far but have the opportunity for a fresh start under new head coach Kelly Almond.

READ MORE: Coach Kelly Almond to lead Coastal Spirit into Women’s South Island League >>>>

On Sunday at the same ground, Otago University welcome Cashmere Technical in what appears a tough match for the home side. It’ll be the first of four trips to Dunedin for Cashmere, with two more to come in the league as well as a critical Kate Sheppard Cup semifinal against the Royals.

Roslyn-Wakari were due to take on Nelson Suburbs this weekend too, but the fixture has been rescheduled for the first weekend of July.

Game of the week

As clubs with a strong record in South Island women’s football, Dunedin City Royals and Coastal Spirit have met many times over the years with results mixed, exemplified by their fixtures last season producing one win, one draw and one loss for each team.

It’ll also be a first game in charge for Spirit head coach Kelly Almond and her assistant Mel Anngow, both former Football Ferns.

Holders Cashmere Technical look in formidable shape, so this game appears vital for the early ambitions of both the Royals and the Spirit. A win would surely announce the victor as a real title contender.

Annalie Longo … star power.

Player to watch

In terms of star power, you can’t really look past Annalie Longo in this league.

The midfielder boasts 133 Football Ferns caps to her name, and is still an excellent footballer who can make a real difference for Cashmere Technical, as shown by a brace last weekend as they hammered Nelson Suburbs 7-0.

Otago University have their work cut out on Sunday in shutting down Longo and other Cashmere threats such as Anna McPhie and Margi Dias.

Bold prediction

Defence has been at the core of a decent 2024 so far for the Dunedin City Royals, helping guide them to the Southern region title and to the quarterfinals of the Kate Sheppard Cup. In fact, they are yet to concede in eight games across all competitions.

If they are to stand a chance of lifting the Women’s South Island League title, it’s important that those solid performances at the back continue. And I can see it happening this weekend against a Spirit side adjusting to new leadership.

Let’s say 1-0 to the Royals.


Game to be played on Saturday June 22, 2024

Dunedin City Royals v Coastal Spirit
Dunedin Artificial Turf, Dunedin, 12.30pm

Game to be played on Sunday June 23, 2024

Otago University v Cashmere Technical
Dunedin Artificial Turf, Dunedin, 12.30pm

How they got there

Dunedin City Royals and Otago University qualified as the top two teams from the Southern region, while Roslyn Wakari beat UC Football in a play-off to qualify.

Cashmere Technical, Coastal Spirit and Nelson Suburbs qualified from the Mainland region.

Logan Smith

Logan Smith is a passionate football fan and volunteer, based in Dunedin, covering the Southern League.

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