Ner­vous wait for South­ern

The Southland Times - - SPORT - SCOTT DON­ALD­SON

The South­ern United foot­ball team finds it­self in the un­fa­mil­iar top-of-the-ta­ble po­si­tion head­ing into the fi­nal two rounds of the Na­tional Women’s League.

Com­ing into the sea­son, the peren­nial cel­lar dwellers had last won a game in the com­pe­ti­tion in 2013, but will now face a ner­vous round-six bye head­ing into their de­ci­sive fi­nal round match against Cap­i­tal Foot­ball to see which teams make the play­offs.

Their lat­est re­sult, a 2-1 vic­tory over North­ern, came on the back of ear­lier wins against Auck­land and Can­ter­bury, which have left the south­ern­ers with 10 com­pe­ti­tion points from five matches.

They can’t breathe easy though, with the top five teams sep­a­rated by just four points, hunt­ing three play­off spots.

‘‘It’s a credit to the girls that put the per­for­mance in once again, the last 10 min­utes the girls re­ally dug in, let’s face it, we have just proven that in the south­ern re­gion we can play foot­ball,’’ South­ern United coach Terry Parle said.

‘‘It’s fan­tas­tic, the girls have bought into the be­lief of we can be a foot­ball team, we can com­pete with the best.

‘‘We don’t have a lot of re­sources down here, we have proven it once again, we have now turned over North­ern, that we are a good foot­ball team and we can match any­body.’’

‘‘The way I look at it is ev­ery game is a cup fi­nal.

‘‘That’s what we have gone in with, this gives us a lit­tle bit of breath­ing space be­cause we have got a bye next week, then we can come in af­ter the bye, see where we are and we are still go­ing to go to Cap­i­tal with the be­lief that we can turn them over and play our brand of foot­ball.’’

To guar­an­tee them­selves a fi­nals spot, South­ern United need to win their fi­nal match against Cap­i­tal Foot­ball on November 26 in Welling­ton, to reach 13 com­pe­ti­tion points, oth­er­wise they will rely on other re­sults go­ing their way if they are to keep the dream of win­ning their maiden ti­tle alive.

‘‘If we make the play­offs, we make the play­offs, but re­al­is­ti­cally our next game is Cap­i­tal and that is what we are look­ing for, that’s where our fo­cus will be, any­thing beyond that will be a bonus,’’ he said.

Parle has been en­cour­aged by the con­sis­tency shown by his team this sea­son.

‘‘The most im­por­tant thing is that we have ac­tu­ally backed up our per­for­mances, we have won two games in a row, it is not a one off and just rais­ing for one game,’’ he said.

Mean­while, this week­end’s ISPS Handa Pre­mier­ship men’s foot­ball match be­tween South­ern United and Hawke’s Bay United will kick off at 11am on Sun­day at Sun­ny­vale in Dunedin, in or­der to work in with flight avail­abil­ity be­tween Dunedin and Napier.

South­ern United’s round 16 clash against Team Welling­ton at Sun­ny­vale Park has also been resched­uled and will be played at 2pm on Fe­bru­ary 11.

In the Na­tional Youth League, South­ern United will play Hawke’s Bay United at Tahuna Park on Satur­day at 2pm.

PHOTOSPORT

South­ern’s El­lie Isaac eludes Can­ter­bury United Pride de­fender Tahlia Her­man-Watt dur­ing their na­tional women’s foot­ball league match.

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