Cup specialists Glenfield Rovers have already exacted revenge on the side that denied them glory last season but are not about to stop there as the country’s premier female club competition enters the semi-final stage.
Rovers, who have been involved in five of the past six Women’s Knockout Cup finals, eliminated holders Forrest Hill Milford United last weekend and now face a lengthy trip south to meet Dunedin Technical in the semi-finals later this month.
Coach Andy Clay was delighted with the manner of that 3-1 victory – which was achieved without the presence of talismanic duo Katie Rood and Liz Milne – and believes Rovers have a good chance of going on to lift the cup for the fourth time.
“Well, we have a one in four chance now,” he laughs.
“All things being equal, we’ll have Liz Milne back for the semi-final and we may also have Stephanie Skilton coming back, she’s been in America and scored a hat-trick for New Zealand ‘A’ against Thailand last year. It looks like we won’t have Katie Rood, who is overseas on trial, but if we have those other two it will increase our goalscoring potential. I think that would make us one of the favourites.”
Glenfield made light of being without Rood and Milne against Forrest Hill, taking control early on through a McHale Perkins goal before Georgia Brown made it 2-0 with half-time approaching. The result was put beyond doubt by Dayna Stevens in the 72nd minute before Talisha Green struck a late consolation for Forrest Hill to make it 3-1 – the same scoreline Glenfield won by in each of the two NRFL Women’s Premier meetings between the pair this season.
The only blot on the copy book for Glenfield was the second-half dismissal of New Zealand U-20 international Claudia Bunge, who received her marching orders after picking up a second yellow card.
“We wobbled for a few minutes after the sending off but then got ourselves back together and organised,” Clay says.
“I was rapt with the players, that would be one of the best performances we’ve put in this year. I thought we played some nice stuff and to score a good goal with 10 players shows the quality we have. When you consider we did that without two of our star players it was really pleasing. We didn’t even talk about that, we just got on with it which was great.”
Clay says last year’s final – in which Forrest Hill eventually defeated Glenfield on penalties after a 2-2 draw – was likewise not referenced but admits revenge was on his mind.
“People say it doesn’t matter but I hate being beaten so of course that stays with you,” he says.
“But the overriding thing is that you want to progress. We only have an outside chance in the league so the cup is keeping the season going and exciting for us. The attitude of the players has been really good, it’s really unified and there’s a lot of determined, competitive women in our side.”
The quarter-final win was a strong display across the board so Clay found picking out individuals difficult but reserved special spraise for several.
“After a couple of loose passes early on, Kate Loye was just majestic in the first half, as was her old Claudelands team mate Kylie Jens at left back. She reads the game so well in and out of possession and, of course, Georgia Brown always causes problems with her athleticism and electric pace,” Clay says.
“Our American import, McHale Perkins, was just rock solid too. She’s one of those players you maybe don’t notice as a spectator but as a coach you absolutely do.”
The cup pedigrees of Glenfield and their semi-final opponents could not be more contrasting as, opposed to Rovers’ remarkable recent record, Dunedin Technical are yet to lift the trophy and have never made it this far before. They will look to continue the finest Women’s Knockout Cup run in their history at home on the weekend of August 26 to 27 while the other semi-final takes place up in Auckland between Eastern Suburbs and Upper Hutt City.
The match details for the semi-finals are still to be confirmed and will be announced shortly by the clubs and federations involved.
Women’s Knockout Cup Semi-Finals
(to be played on August 26-27)
Dunedin Technical vs Glenfield Rovers
Eastern Suburbs vs Upper Hutt City