Mikela Hunt (Right) scores for Southern much to keeper Cushla Litchwark's anguish The JourneyFan

Capital Football 6 Southern United 2
National Women's League
Petone Memorial
Sunday 26th November, 2017
Attendance 120 and several dogs (check out #dogsofNWL on twitter)

Football is a game that has many phenomenon's and this game had a couple on display

Phenomenon #1 
When a team knows their fate in the league and they inexplicably put in their best performances of the season.

Capital's fate had been decided the week before, an eventful 5-1 loss away to Northern meant they wouldn't finish above fifth place in the league. The performance they put into this game was easily the best of their season. Coach Emma Evans said they had spoken to the girls about putting in a 90 minute performance as they had seen what they were capable of in patches and today was about bringing it all together. And bring it together they did, their were some outstanding performances, particularly from  Kennedy Bryant and Libby Boobyer, whose two goals makes her Capital's joint top scorer with Maggie Jenkins (who was away in Thailand on international duty with the Football Ferns) for the season. 

Boobyer & Bryant celebrate Boobyer making it 4-1 Dr yomcat (Michael Welsh)

Despite going 1-0 down in the second minute, Capital knew what they wanted to do, they almost equalised straight from the kick off, but Emma Mains shot just missed the target. 15 minutes later it was all square when Main capitalised on a rare defensive error by Mikaela Hunt. Five minutes later another slip in the Southern defence, this time from Coral Seath, allowed Maya Hahn to take the ball in to the penalty area and calmly slot it into the bottom corner despite the efforts of Tessa Nicol in the Southern goal. 

Capital's Maya Hahn about to make it 2-1 TheJourneyFan

Southern's confidence had taken a hit and Capital were starting to dominate. Just past the half hour mark, Micky Robertson, who surprisingly for a player known as a goal machine, had yet to get on the scoresheet this season remedied that by capitalising on yet another defensive error and it was 3-1

Then just on half time came what was the goal of the game, Sarah Gregorius, who was playing a much deeper midfield role than her usual position up front, played a beautiful ball from just inside half way, across the field to Emma Main in the right had corner, she cut back and fired in a cross which was met by on the edge of the six yard area by a sliding Libby Boobyer to make it 4-1.

The counter to this phenomenon theory comes from Southern United, who while not knowing exactly where they would finish, knew they were guaranteed a finals spot. A win against Capital would give them a home final. Not at all bad for a team that had won only one game in the last 10 years before this season. So while destiny was in their hands, they chose this game to put in what coach Terry Parle described as their worst performance of the season, compounded by a lot of individual errors.

Phenomenon #2 
An ex player always score against you

Southern's Ex Capital players Mikaela Hunt & Emily Morison "meeting" Emma Main The JourneyFan

This seems to be one of those unwritten rules that the game has. In this game Southern United had Mikaela Hunt and Emily Morison who were part of the Capital team last season and it took just two minutes for this phenomenon to occur, when a free kick floated into the Capital goal area, Keeper Cushla Litchwark made a good save but was unable to push the ball out, rather it went straight up in the air and when it came down Hunt was on hand to prod it home. She also got a second goal, five minutes into the second half when she rose above everyone to head home a corner and pulled the score back to 4-2.

It gave Southern a glimmer of hope, but it wasn't their day. Libby Boobyer got a second and almost knocked herself out running into the goalpost, then just as I was told by Asha Strom's dad to get my camera ready as she was about to score, the ball came across the penalty area and it was Bex Jefferies, not Asha, who volleyed it home to make it 6-2 and complete the 18th win in a row for Capital over Southern.
Phenomenon #3
Southern United 

Southern United coach Terry Parle Dr yomcat (Michael Welsh)

A change of coach and a small change in attitude makes a massive difference. It happened to Capital last season when Emma Evans and Sam Morrissey came in as co-coaches and they finished runners-up and it's what has happened to Southern this season.

Terry Parle has come in with Dunedin Technical's Graham Smail as assistant. When asked about what has changed Parle said "we've come in and we've absolutely told the girls that they can play football, we put processes in place for them to enjoy the football, to be technically and tactically better and because of that the girls have improved. The improvement is not much but the biggest improvement is the belief. The belief they can go out and compete with everyone anytime." 

Despite the loss it's been a fantastic and historic season for Southern United and it's not over yet, they travel to Keith Hay Park on Sunday to meet Auckland (who they beat 3-2 in the first game of the season) in the semi final, with the winner taking on Canterbury United Pride in Christchurch the week later. I'm pretty sure, with the exception of Canterbury & Auckland fans, everyone else will be backing Southern to go all the way. I know I am.