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Latest NPWL Round Review
Scoreless Draw Makes Things Interesting At Top
by Jeremy Ruane
The most miserly defences in the Lotto Northern Premier Women's League went head-to-head at Galloway Park on May 21, so the scoreless draw which resulted from the clash of Claudelands Rovers and league leaders Eastern Suburbs should come as no surprise, especially given the absence of the Football Ferns Development Squad players from this week's action.

There was plenty of enterprising play and good goalkeeping on show, but neither team could provide the cutting edge both sought in order to procure all three points at stake.

The result allowed reigning champions Three Kings United to draw level with "The Lilywhites" at the top of the table, Suburbs enjoying the twin advantages of superior goal difference and a game in hand as the league approaches the half-way mark.

United eventually overcame Forrest Hill-Milford United 4-1 under the Becroft Park lights on Friday evening, but it took the title-holders a while to get into the stride, during which time Chloe Knott proceeded to dictate terms against her old club.

Once the visitors got going, however, there was no stopping them, Deven Jackson opening their account for the night five minutes before half-time, while Rebecca Burrows doubled the advantage four minutes after the break with a beauty from distance into the top far corner.

Arabella Maynard's thirty yard lob fully exploited the stranded Rivalina Fuimaono's positioning to "The Swans"' delight just before the hour mark, but Hannah Blake restored United's two-goal cushion ten minutes later to keep the home team at bay.

Blake had two further goals ruled out by the offside flag before blazing wide from the penalty spot with seven minutes remaining. But Burrows finished the job in stoppage time to leave the title-holders on top of the table, at least for thirty-six hours.

Glenfield Rovers climbed into third spot after coming from behind to beat Northland 9-2 at Morningside Park, where Nicole Stratford had the home team in front half-way through the first half.

Kate Loye swiftly snuffed out home team hopes of a shock result, but it was still heartening for the Northlanders to be on level terms at the break. Rovers had two game-breakers on the bench, however, and the second half displays of Sydney Mitchell and Tessa Berger killed off any prospects Northland may have harboured of earning their first
point of the season.

After Dayna Stevens had fired Glenfield in front, last season's Maia Jackman Trophy winner plundered five goals in just 24 minutes, Berger's goalscoring prowess being complemented by Mitchell's creativity - she had a hand in almost all Rovers' eight goals in the second spell.

Loye and McHale Perkins also found the target, while Danica MacLean's fine header from a corner two minutes from time gave Northland reason to cheer late in a contest long since taken away from them.

Northland remain a point adrift of Hamilton Wanderers, who copped some rather harsh calls against them at times during their 6-1 demise at the hands of Western Springs at Seddon Fields.

The die was cast inside the first ten minutes of the match, during which Maisy Dewell and Rebecca O'Neill struck to put "The Hoops" on course for victory. But a Chelsea Elliott thirty-five yarder twenty-five minutes into the contest gave the Hamiltonians hope of fighting back.

Lauren Mathis' volleyed lob ten minutes later put those prospects on the back-burner, however, while second half goals from O'Neill - a header from a superbly flighted Sam Muirhead corner, Lily Rose Dyer and Melanie Gooch - her first first team goal in almost two years - ensured the victors of fourth place on the table at the conclusion of the round.

The clash of the Rovers appeals as the most competitive of next Sunday's encounters, with Glenfield entertaining Claudelands at McFetridge Park. League leaders Suburbs welcome "The Swans" to Becroft Park, while Norwest and "The Hoops" do battle at Huapai Reserve on a day Hamilton and Northland meet at Porritt Stadium at the earlier time of 11.30am.

Details:
Claudelands Rovers 0, Eastern Suburbs 0
Forrest Hill-Milford United 1 (A. Maynard (57)), Three Kings United 4 (D. Jackson (40), R. Burrows (49, 90), H. Blake (69))  HT 0-1
Northland 2 (N. Stratford (23), TBA (85)), Glenfield Rovers 9 (K. Loye (25, 60), D. Stevens (49), T. Berger (57, 75, 77, 79, 81), M. Perkins (90))  HT 1-1
Western Springs 6 (M. Dewell (5), R. O'Neill (9, 53), L. Mathis (35), L. Dyer (65), M. Gooch (85)), Hamilton Wanderers 1 (C. Elliott (25))  HT 3-1


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