Defence the key for Valeron
For his Valeron Wanderers to be competitive in the women's Central League, coach Craig Newell needs to plug the holes in the defence.
Valeron meet Seatoun at Memorial Park tomorrow while Massey University have a difficult task away to one of the title contenders, Waterside-Karori, in Wellington.
In the opening game against Massey, Newell's team was made to pay for being too flat across the back, with four of Massey's five goals coming directly from their forwards getting in behind them. If it hadn't been for the brilliant goal-keeping of Sierra Bennett, Valeron would have conceded more goals.
"It's clear we need to work on the girls knowing what their role is defensively when we don't have the ball," Newell said.
"We just need to make it easier on ourselves so we don't get caught square across the back. We'll be better for that game and I still believe we're going to be a top-four side at the end of the season."
Things won't be easier tomorrow against usual contenders Seatoun. Up front, Annie Olsen is likely to put Valeron under the same pressure that Massey did.
Valeron will need to hold on to the ball, with midfielders Catherine Pretty and Libby Boobyer key to their chances.
If Massey play like they did against Valeron for the entire season, it's difficult to see who can beat them, but Waterside and Seatoun have tested Massey over their two victorious seasons.
Midfielders Emily McColl, Leah Gallie and Rosie Missen are not just quality ball players but probably the most physical players in the league, while defenders Jess Green and Karin Ingram as well as goalkeeper Rachel Ingram are all comfortable on the ball.
If there was a criticism last week, it was that they weren't clinical enough in front of goal. Gallie got into great positions but needs to be more ruthless when shooting, while Mikaela Boxall, having her first game for Massey, appeared lost at times until she hit a fantastic volleyed goal directly from a corner.
Massey's performance was so good against Valeron that coach Kyle Jensen's biggest task might be keeping the players' feet on the ground.