Skill and luck must combine for Southern United

The equation is anything but simple for Southern United.

What is simple is that it remains very much in the mix for a spot in the national women's league final with four rounds to go.

But there are plenty of variables that will determine which team finishes in those top two spots.

Southern has never played in the final, although in 2017 it played a semifinal against Auckland after finishing third.

That game has since been discarded in favour of a straight final, following the shift to a double-round last year.

At present, Southern is third on the table on 16 points, and three games and a bye remain.

Its main competition comes in the form of Northern Lights (18 points) and Auckland (15).

However, both have already had their bye, so have further opportunity to secure more points.

The flip side to that is that Southern has already played both games against the table-topping Canterbury United.

Northern and Auckland still have to play Canterbury - which is on 24 points, having won eight of nine games while scoring 31 goals and conceding just eight.

Perhaps that could cancel out Southern's bye, although Northern did upset Canterbury in its one loss of the season.

Southern also has the toughest run in.

Northern and Auckland both have a game left against the winless Central, while Northern also has to play the lowly WaiBOP.

But both also have to play Southern.

That gives Southern the chance to take points from its competitors while adding to its own tally.

Southern also has to play Capital in Wellington, which will be another tough match.

Goals have come readily for the side this season.

Only Canterbury has scored more than its 24 - young duo Amy Hislop and Ruby Anderson leading the way with six and four respectively.

However, defensively it has proved susceptible, conceding 16 goals - double that of the three other top sides.

The first of those decisive games is on Sunday, as Southern travels to Auckland to play Northern.

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