Southern United fall to Capital away
By Markus Fjørtoft
Southern United lose to Capital in chase for playoff spot
Capital have kept their hopes of claiming the National Women’s League title alive with a vital 3-1 win over Southern United in the only match to take place this afternoon.
With Canterbury United running away at the top of the table and Northern currently battling Auckland to claim the other all-important spot in the top two, both Capital and Southern were in need of all three points today in Wellington to stay in the hunt.
It was the hosts who responded better to that pressure against a Southern side that didn’t help their chances by getting a player sent off early in the second half.
The vastly-experienced Sarah Gregorius emerged as the match-winner for Capital. The Football Ferns striker wore the captain’s armband as usual and led by example with a brace while Anna McPhie also got on the scoresheet.
Gregorius, who has been capped 85 times by New Zealand, showed exactly why she has had such an illustrious career with the manner in which she gave her side an early lead. In the 10th minute, the 31-year-old picked the ball up near halfway and embarked on a jinking run before beating Southern goalkeeper Jordan Woodward with an accomplished finish.
But the lead didn’t last long, Shontelle Smith equalising for the visitors just a few minutes later.
Southern thought they had done enough to go into the break on level terms after an evenly-fought first half but Capital had other ideas and Gregorius again had a hand in the goal. This time she used her determination to win the ball back before Maya Hahn released McPhie, who smashed her effort into the bottom corner to restore Capital’s advantage.
Another defining moment then arrived early in the second spell and, once again, Gregorius was at the heart of it. The skipper had been put through on goal and Renee Bacon needed to take drastic action but mistimed her tackle and was given a red card.
That gave Southern a steep hill to climb and their odds were diminished further with just under 10 minutes remaining as Gregorius completed an action-packed afternoon for herself with a brave header to make it 3-1.
Capital are now just a point off second place while Southern’s hopes of qualifying for the final are hanging by a thread. Match week seven of the National Women’s League wraps up tomorrow with two more games.
National Women’s League Match Week Seven
Capital Football 3 (Sarah Gregorius 10’, 84’, Anna McPhie 40’)
Southern United 1 (Shontelle Smith 13’)