Moment of truth: Dunedin Technical set to line up for Kate Sheppard Cup final

Graeme Smaill
Graeme Smaill
The Dunedin Technical women’s side is about to take the Hillary step.

The players will line up in tomorrow’s Kate Sheppard Cup final against Forrest Hill Milford United at QBE Stadium in Auckland in what is likely to be the biggest game of their lives.

The  side made it through to the semifinal of the competition last year before losing.

This season, the team has gone one better and is just 90 minutes — possibly more if the game goes to extra time — away from glory, and a first for a women’s team from the deep south.

But the lure of the big prize brings nerves and a calm temperament is needed.

Dunedin Technical coach Graeme Smaill said the side was excited to be heading north for the final.

"All the girls are really looking forward to the game. There is a real belief they can win it. Obviously, we are the underdogs and we are aware of that," he said.

"Probably past history has reinforced that when you come from a small place like Dunedin is, in football terms, and you go up against those big teams from the North Island then you are going to be up against it.

"But we have shown we can compete and the girls showed in that semifinal win they have the ability."

The side beat top Mainland side Coastal Spirit 4-1 earlier in the competition and then defeated Wellington United 4-2 in the semifinal in the capital. The side went behind early in the semifinal but bounced back to pull away for the win.

The side has been light in its training this week with up to half the squad away playing or coaching at school tournaments. There were a few niggles among the squad but nothing too major.

A good start was the key for the team, Smaill  said, and keeping the Auckland side on the back foot. The Auckland side has some Football Ferns and won this competition a couple of years ago.

Dunedin Technical has amassed an impressive record this season, having played 20 games for 19 wins and a draw.

"Winning is, I suppose, a habit and a good habit to have. I suppose the down side of that is if you are so used to winning, you are not used to coming from behind. But we managed to do that against Wellington, so that does give us some confidence."

He said the side had nothing to fear.

It has all-round strength throughout and a solid midfield in Shontelle Smith and Chelsea Whittaker.

Up front, youngsters Lara Wall, Mikayla Gray and Emily Morison provide plenty of firepower.

Smaill said the side had grown over the years he had been involved and there was talent all over the park.

Family, friends and supporters will be making the long trek to Auckland. More than 40 club members are heading to the ground, which will at least give the side some support.

Playing on a large ground at North Harbour may be an issue for the teams. Smaill said Tahuna Park, where the side plays many of its games, was a large pitch but it had been reduced during the season. More space means more room to run and fitness may be an issue.

Whatever happens, it will be Smaill’s last game in charge, after a decade involved in coaching women’s football.

He said the most exciting thing he would take away from the coaching  were the great relationships he had formed with players and supporters over the years.

The match will be broadcast on Sky Sport and kicks off at noon tomorrow. 

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