Underdogs welcome cup challenge

For Papakura City and Fencibles United, this weekend provides them with the opportunity to test themselves against Premier League opposition, something they both hope to become by earning promotion at the end of this season.

The AFF/NFF Women’s Conference sides enter round two of the New Zealand Football Women’s Knockout Cup off the back of a positive first half of the season which sees them occupy the top two spots.

For Fencibles United, earning promotion last season was a whisker away, with Paul Hutchison’s side missing out on the opportunity to play off by goal difference.

This season is again heading in a positive direction with the East Auckland outfit unbeaten after seven matches.

“[Our season is] going pretty good,” Fencibles’ Captain Sarah Brierly said.

“We’ve had a couple of good wins along with a couple of draws, apart from that, the team is bonding really well and I believe we are going really well this season.”

With promotion at the forefront of their mind, Brierly believes coming up against a Lotto NRFL Premier Division opponent in Claudelands Rovers for the Knockout Cup will provide a good marker for where they are at.

“The biggest thing for us that we want to achieve in the Knockout Cup is to see where we are placed against the premier teams.

“Playing Claudelands, who are proven in the premier division, is going to be a really good marker for us to see where we are at, so If we do get promoted this year we will know what we will be coming up against next season.”

It is a similar story for Papakura City.

Marlies James, who has featured in two Knockout Cup Final wins in 1997 and 1998 with Three Kings United, believes this weekend’s match will provide a good test for what is a very young team.

“This weekend’s game [against Forrest Hill Milford] will be a great test for us to see how well we can compete against a Premier League team,” James said.

“Our aim is to get as far as possible in the cup and I really believe we’re good enough players to cause an upset.”

Round Two of the New Zealand Football Women’s Knockout Cup takes place from 2-5 June.

Auckland Football Club fixtures

Hamilton Wanderers vs Eastern Suburbs, Monday 5 June, 12:30pm, Porritt Stadium
Western Springs vs Hibiscus Coast, Friday 2 June, 7.30pm, Seddon Fields
Forrest Hill Milford United vs Papakura City, Sunday 4 June, 2:30pm, Becroft Park
Three Kings United vs Rotorua United, Sunday 4 June, 1pm, Keith Hay Park
Claudelands Rovers vs Fencibles United, Sunday 4 June, 1pm, Galloway Park
Ellerslie vs Glenfield Rovers, Monday 5 June, 12pm, Michaels Avenue
Norwest United vs Metro, Sunday 4 June, 1pm, Huapai Reserve
Central United vs Otumoetai, Monday 5 June, 1pm, Kiwitea Street