The women fell to a 94th minute strike, as Auckland won 2-1 and handed Southern United their first loss of the season.
Southern were looking to extend their unbeaten run to three matches, while Auckland were returning to action after a weekend off with the bye. The visitors did not appear rusty in the opening stages as they began brightly but they found themselves a goal down at the break after a keenly-fought first half.
A sizeable crowd had gathered in the main stand at Tahuna Park and they were on their feet just before the 20-minute mark when a good ball from the energetic Renee Bacon went in off Auckland’s Bianca Stiles for the third own goal of the day.
With the central defensive pairing of Mikaela Hunt and Kelsey Kennard proving hard to breach, Auckland were not able to get back on level terms until the hour as Sam Muirhead rifled a shot into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
It looked like the points would be shared as the clock ticked deep into injury time but defending champions Auckland managed to take all three back north in dramatic fashion, Lucy Carter finding the top corner with an outstanding strike from a long way out to give her side an enjoyable plane ride home this evening.
“We were delighted to get back into it and get three points – it feels like we’re starting our season again,” coach Tracy Wrigley said.
“The game was very physically competitive and it became a bit of a fight. It felt like we stole the win in the end but, after quite an even first half, I felt we actually did deserve to pop in a goal in the second half – I think it was probably a fair result.”
Several Southern players did not train fully during the week due to illness and coach Ignacio Sande felt that took its toll in the closing stages.
“I think in the last 20 minutes we had a bit of a lack of energy and they managed to score in the last minute,” he said.
“To be honest, I’m very happy with the team and the performance but this happens sometimes. We know Auckland are a good side and they scored two great goals so we can only congratulate them and look at what we can improve on for next time.”
The result means Auckland are now in second place, three points off leaders Canterbury while Southern sit third. Locked on points with Southern are the Northern Lights, who picked up the first victory of their campaign with a 4-1 triumph over Capital in Wellington yesterday.