Southern has to share top spot, for now

Capital attacker Kennedy Bryant (left) looks to bring the ball down ahead of watchful Southern...
Capital attacker Kennedy Bryant (left) looks to bring the ball down ahead of watchful Southern United midfielder Shontelle Smith at Logan Park in Dunedin on Saturday. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The opportunities were there for Southern United to move clear of the pack.

They were chances the team could not take, though, and at the other end, Capital was clinical with its chances.

That was the story of a game that, given its context, could become the story of the season.

Capital claimed a 3-0 win over Southern at Logan Park in Dunedin on Saturday.

It was a response to its loss to Southern in a Wellington a week ago, ending Southern’s three-match winning streak in the process.

The result leaves the two teams tied at the top of the women’s South Central Series, on nine points, with two games to play.

It is certainly not over. If Southern does fall short in a tight race at the end of the league, though, this will be the game it looks back on with regret.

A win would have taken Southern to 12 points, leaving it six clear of the rest of the competition.

That left Capital essentially playing for its season, and it responded in devastating fashion.

Southern created plenty of chances, enough to have gone to halftime ahead.

It threatened up both wings, while Shontelle Smith and Kirsty Hayr regularly took the ball off their opposition.

But it was unable to convert any of that pressure into goals.

Smith got the closest, hitting the crossbar as she shot after running on to a slightly wayward pass.

While Capital did not have the same ball to work with, it did more with what it got.

Experienced Football Fern Anna Green showed all her class in setting up the first goal in the 18th minute.

She sent a free kick into the box from the right, which Emma Main guided into the net to give Capital an early lead.

Southern dominated the majority of the half. But it could not score, and a piece of solo brilliance from Jemma Catherwood soon had the host team facing a much steeper challenge.

Catherwood was played into space up the right, initially going forward, before jinking back in through the middle.

Her mazy run led her to the edge of the box, where she calmly chipped a left-footed shot over the outstretched arms of Southern keeper Amy Simmers just before the break.

It was all class and showed the finishing touch that had been lacking from Southern’s performance.

From there, Capital began to control proceedings.

It looked after its possession better in the second half, while shutting down Southern’s attack more effectively.

Despite that, Southern was unlucky to go three down on a penalty decision in the 52nd minute.

Kaley Ward was played into the box on a lovely ball from Jemma Robertson.

Rose Morton came across in defence for Southern, before Ward hit the ground, after what seemed minimal contact.

Morton, along with much of the home crowd, was clearly upset as the penalty was awarded.

It made no difference, though, as Ward slotted home from the spot to give Capital an essentially unassailable lead.

Capital threatened with a handful more chances from that point, but Southern was able to hold it out.

The result leaves the teams tied with two games to play, although Capital’s winning margin may prove important if it ends up equal on points at the end of the season.

Crucially, Southern has its second-round game against Canterbury United at home, while Capital will have to travel to Christchurch in search of points.

Canterbury United Pride yesterday thumped Central 5-0.

 

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