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Latest NPWL Round Review
Incredible Comeback Highlights Fourth Round Action
by Jeremy Ruane
Three Kings United's remarkable Lotto Northern Premier Women's League winning streak endured one of its sternest tests at Keith Hay Park on April 23, as they found a way to overhaul Norwest United and win 5-4, after the visitors stormed into a 4-0 lead after 27 minutes.

Even this writer, who has attended and reported on well over 1000 women's football matches over the past three decades, is struggling to recall a match featuring quite as dramatic a mid-match turnaround as this one.

Jane Barnett's pace first exploited the sluggishness of the reigning champions' rearguard in the sixth minute, and when she repeated the dose in the 22nd minute, an upset was looming large.

Five minutes later, something more than an upset was on the cards, more a full-scale blow-out of epic proportions, as Barnett completed her hat-trick before Cara Lonergan joined in the fun to leave Three Kings' bid for a 28th successive league win seemingly in tatters.

But there was no sense of panic about the title-holders. They kept on playing the style of football which earned them last season's accolades, and eventually the openings they had been carving out became associated with an end product - witness Paige Satchell's goal eleven minutes before half-time, which gave Three Kings a toe-hold in the contest.

There was only one team in the contest in the second spell, as the home side laid siege to Norwest's goal. Ten minutes into the half, substitute Deven Jackson had a goal ruled out for offside, but seven minutes later, the deficit was reduced again via Hannah Blake's free-kick.

Piling on the pressure, Three Kings reduced the deficit to one goal fourteen minutes from time when Jackson picked out a corker on the turn into the top corner of Nadia Olla's goal.  

Eight minutes later, Jackson and Satchell combined for Blake to head home a superb equaliser and set up a grandstand finish, which materialised in the third minute of stoppage time via an unlikely source.

Claudia Crasborn's corner was headed back towards her own goal by the otherwise immense Meikayla Moore. Before you could say Ally Toailoa, Three Kings' new signing marked her debut in style, swivelling to slam home a close-range volley and seal an incredible come-from-behind 5-4 triumph for the reigning champions over stunned opponents whose dazed demeanour post-match spoke volumes.
The other teams who went into the round with Three Kings boasting perfect records, Eastern Suburbs and Claudelands Rovers, maintained those records by firing eight-goal salvos in their respective matches.

"The Lilywhites" were only a goal to the good at half-time against Hamilton Wanderers at Madills Farm - Jacqui Hand's fourth minute strike separated the sides - but come the full-time whistle, they had handed out an 8-1 thrashing, with Leanna Ryan's goal the source of the visitors' lone moment of joy.

Grace Jale helped herself to a hat-trick, while Hand struck again. Tayla O'Brien bagged her first goals in competitive football for nearly nine months with a double-strike, while Amy Waters also chimed in as Suburbs remained line astern of the league leaders.

Hard on their heels are Claudelands, who overwhelmed Northland 8-0 at Galloway Park, led by a hat-trick from Sophie Stewart-Hobbs. Ella Golding chimed in with two goals for Rovers, for whom Michaela Foster, Helen Talbot and Leah Gubb were also on target against opponents whose performance wasn't as adverse as the scoreline suggests.

The round kicked off under Becroft Park's bright lights on Friday evening, as Western Springs edged Forrest Hill-Milford United 1-0 to record their first victory of the season, one which they badly needed.

Maisy Dewell's thirteenth minute effort was the difference between the teams on the scoreboard in what was a hard-fought encounter between two contenders striving to get their respective campaigns on track, having made indifferent starts to it.

Springs get the chance to upset one of the top three at Seddon Fields on Sunday when they entertain Claudelands. The other two front-runners face road trips - Suburbs trek north to Northland's Morningside Park, while Hamilton's Porritt Stadium is Three Kings' destination on a day Norwest will look to bounce back against Glenfield Rovers at Huapai Reserve.

Claudelands Rovers 8 (S. Stewart-Hobbs (17, 33, 76), M. Foster (31), H. Talbot (58), E. Golding (62, 78), L. Gubb (69)), Northland 0  HT 3-0
Eastern Suburbs 8 (J. Hand (4, 78), T. O'Brien (48, 71), G. Jale (63, 66, 89), A. Waters (79)), Hamilton Wanderers 1 (L. Ryan (73))  HT 1-0
Forrest Hill-Milford United 0, Western Springs 1 (M. Dewell (13))  HT 0-1
Three Kings United 5 (P. Satchell (34), H. Blake (62, 84), D. Jackson (76), A. Toailoa (90)), Norwest United 4 (J. Barnett (6, 22, 25), C. Lonergan (27))  HT 1-4

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