Capital 2 Northern Football 1
National Women’s League
Sunday 20th November
Att about 120
This was potentially Capital's last game of the season, with only 1 round in the league that meant only 6 games and this was Capital's 6th. However they are one of the 4 teams in contention the top 3 places in the league. These are important as these places get you into the finals.
The permutations of what was needed by whom were way to complicated to work out. Today's game was probably going to be Capital's toughest of the season. Northern are the defending champions, were unbeaten and had beaten Canterbury 3-1 earlier in the season. While Canterbury had beaten Capital 3-1 last week and last season Capital suffered a record 11-2 thrashing from Northern, so a draw or a loss by only 1 or 2 could probably be seen as a good result. Thankfully the Capital team didn't share my pessimism.
Northern started the game playing with the wind and almost had the ball in the net after 3 minutes with a shot that went just over the crossbar. Capital responded with 2 shots in 2 minutes, but it wasn't to be an end to end game with a lot of it being played in the middle of the park, this however didn't make it any less entertaining. Northern played the first half sitting back a little and allowing Capital to come at them, it would have seemed a reasonably sensible tactic had it not been for the wind which was having an noticeable impact on the game.
|Everyone misses the corner The JourneyFan|
It was 0-0 at half time and while Capital were playing well, there was still a feeling that Northern could easily step up another gear if they needed to. After half time though it was Capital who stepped up and with the wind behind them were pushing Northern back. Then they won a corner in the 57th minute, Briar Palmer floated a lovely ball into the six yard area and was missed completely by attackers, defenders and Northern keeper, Anna Leat, before Capital's Jayme-Lee Hunter found the ball at her feet and prodded it over the line.
While this made the Capital players and fans ecstatic, it annoyed Northern and they responded immediately with Jane Barnett scoring almost straight from the restart. It was a timely reminder for Capital not to take Northern lightly. Ten minutes later, just after Emily Morison had come on for Maggie Jenkins, Capital got another corner. Palmer again floated a lovely ball over, and the ball found it's way back to Morison on the penalty spot who despite close attention from Tessa Berger managed to get a shot away and make it 2-1 with her first touch of the game.
This time Capital kept their concentration from the kick off and kept Northern at bay, and continued to do so until the final whistle. Northern are a great team, skillful and physically bigger than the Capital team, but it was Capital's day today they played with more tenacity and simply wanted it more than Northern. The players were always there for each other,and it was a superb team performance. If Capital have a player of the match award, I don't envy the person that had to pick it!
The result puts Capital top of the table and confirms them a spot in the top 3, where in the top 3 all depends on next weeks results. Assuming that Canterbury beat Central at home, then the best result for Capital would be a WaiBOP win or a draw as that should give them a home semi-final. Whatever happens it shouldn't bother this team too much as they seem to have a great team spirit, the desire and ability to win the championship.
The fact that this could be the last time I see Capital play at home this season, after only 3 games in a crying shame. At present it does feel as if the National Women's League is run by NZF as a box ticking exercise to ensure they can receive more grants from the likes of FIFA.
The 2015 NZF competitions review did give the Women's National League a cursory mention but the only long term plan seemed to be a vague idea that the club's in the Men's National League would eventually run Women's teams as well. How, when and whether this would work is a whole other debate to be had.
What should happen now is that the league is extended to a become a full home and away round robin competition with 8 teams, it's the very least the players and fans deserve.
|Capital celebrate Emily Morison's goal The JourneyFan|