April 30, 2012
AUCKLAND – Football Ferns Anna Green and Amber Hearn were both on the score sheet when their sides clashed in a crucial Bundesliga relegation fixture, while Tommy Smith signed off his English Championship season with three points and his third goal of the season.
Mired in the relegation spots for the entire season, and beginning the round six points adrift of 10th placed USV Jena, victory for Lokomotive Leipzig against Jena in an East German derby was vital and Green’s first Frauen Bundesliga goal, just after the half hour mark, gave them renewed confidence of a great escape.
Green’s New Zealand team mate Amber Hearn responded with an 87th minute equaliser that looked certain to book their top flight status for another season but Leipzig found a winner just a minute later to seal their first home win and keep their slim hopes of staying up alive.
With three games left in the German season the race is even tighter at the top, with Rebecca Smith’s Wolfsburg notching a fifth straight win – 2-1 away over bottom placed Bayer Leverkusen – to remain one point clear of Duisburg who beat Bad Neuenahr 2-0 with Katie Hoyle and Sarah Gregorius both featuring in the defeated side.
With thoughts of Champions League glory put aside until the May 18 final in Munich, Ria Percival’s FFC Frankfurt have renewed focus on the league, and dismantled Freiburg 7-0 at home to stay within three points of the league leaders in fourth spot.
Other Football Ferns in Europe were left to cool their heels this weekend with Ali Riley and Malmo are due to play midweek in Sweden and waterlogged pitches in England ruling out any play in the FA Women’s Super league.
Southampton, rather than the weather dampened West Ham’s celebration after defeating Hull 2-0 at Upton Park.
Winston Reid played the full match for the Irons but victory was ultimately in vain as Southampton thrashed Coventry 4-0 to secure the second automatic promotion spot. Third-placed West Ham will now play Cardiff City home and away for a place in the promotion playoff against the winner of Birmingham City and Blackpool.
There were no promotion hopes or relegation fears for Ipswich Town in their final match of the season but the 3-2 win over relegated Doncaster Rovers was a positive note to finish on nonetheless. More pleasing for All Whites fans was the sight of an in-form Tommy Smith opening the scoring in the tenth minute and then rattling the wood work just a few minutes later.
Also in the Championship Chris Wood and Cameron Howieson were on opposing sides during Bristol City’s 1-1 draw at Burnley.
Wood played 77 minutes for the Robins while Howieson made another appearance off the bench for the home side.
The drama in the English Premiership continued with Spurs working their way back into the top four with a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers at White hart Lane. All Whites skipper Ryan Nelsen watched from the bench as his new club did his old one few favours in their fight to stave off the threat of relegation.
In Scandinavia, Kris Bright clocked up 90 minutes as Bryne drew 1-1 away to Mjøndalen in the Norwegian first division while former All White Chris James also played a full match as Kuopion Palloseura lost 1-0 away to Jaro in Finland.
Meanwhile, Rory Fallon will sit out the remainder of the Scottish season after injuring a knee in last week’s fixtures.
In Japan, Michael Fitzgerald was again deployed in midfield as V-Varen Nagasaki grabbed a five way share of the lead on the third tier Japanese Football League with a 1-0 win over Kamatamare Sanuki, while in China League One, Chris Killen and Chongqing lost 0-2 at home to second placed Hunan Xiangtao.
Closer to home, David Mulligan netted to help Auckland City edge AS Tefana 2-1 in the first leg of the OFC Champions League final at Kiwitea Street. The second leg is in two weeks time in Tahiti.