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