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All Whites striker Wood hauls Burnley to safety

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

All Whites striker Chris Wood has continued to haul Burnley clear of relegation from the English Premier League, scoring a brace as the Clarets all but confirmed their safety with a vital 2-0 win over Cardiff City.

They are now eight points clear of third-from-bottom Cardiff and can seemingly start planning for a fourth successive season in the top flight.

Wood has played an important role in that and now has 10 goals in the competition. Since the start of last season, he has scored more Premier League goals (20) for Burnley than any other player. He has also been directly involved in four goals in his past two appearances (three goals and one assist).

His ninth goal of the campaign came just past the half hour when he headed Burnley in front from a corner and he completed his brace with another header in stoppage time to make sure of the win.

Wood and co now have over a week to prepare to take on one of the most famous clubs in English football with a visit to Champions League-chasing Chelsea scheduled for 22 April.

Erceg leads Courage title defence

Football Ferns defender Abby Erceg wore the captain’s armband as the North Carolina Courage kicked off their National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) title defence with a 1-1 draw at home against the Chicago Red Stars.

Erceg and the rest of her team were honoured just before the match when their championship rings for winning the 2018 title were presented. Despite dominating possession, the Courage found themselves 1-0 down in the first half but salvaged a point with a Crystal Dunn equaliser.

Taking her usual position at the heart of the Courage defence, Erceg nearly provided the winner with a spectacular long-range header that was tipped over the bar. The defending champions do not have to wait long to be in action again as they are set to host the Orlando Pride on Wednesday.

Katie Bowen’s Utah Royals are yet to get their season underway but will do so on Saturday when the Washington Spirit come to town.

FA Cup final in store for Percival

Ria Percival suffered a blow in picking up an injury in the Football Ferns’ recent win over Norway but now has every reason to return to full fitness as soon as possible.

The versatile veteran limped off early as New Zealand claimed a 1-0 victory in Spain and was therefore unavailable when her West Ham United team mates took on Reading in the semi-finals of the Women’s FA Cup. But they got the job done without her, the match finishing 1-1 after extra time before the Hammers finally triumphed 4-3 on penalties.

They will now take on Manchester City in the FA Cup final on 4 May at the iconic Wembley Stadium and Percival is expected to recover in time to be considered for selection. The final may well have had two Kiwis as Manchester City had to edge out Ali Riley’s Chelsea 1-0 in the other semi-final, the Football Ferns skipper an unused substitute after only just returning from her international duty.

Goalkeeper Erin Nayler was in the same situation for Bordeaux in France, watching on from the bench as her side won 2-1 to go third. Fellow Fern Meikayla Moore did put in a 90-minute shift though, playing at right back as MSV Duisburg drew 2-2 with SC Sand in the German Frauen-Bundesliga.

Boxall stars in thrilling stadium christening

Michael Boxall and his Minnesota United team mates opened their new stadium in style with a thrilling 3-3 draw against New York City, the All Whites defender taking part in every minute.

On a historic day for the club, Boxall started in central defence as the Loons took to the turf at Allianz Field for the first ever time. The game lived up to the scale of the occasion, particularly a first half that brought five goals before the points were eventually shared.

Elsewhere in Major League Soccer (MLS) action, fellow All White Bill Tuiloma also played a full match in the Portland Timbers defence but couldn’t prevent a 2-1 loss at FC Dallas. The 24-year-old nearly notched a late equaliser for the Timbers when rising high to meet a free kick but directed his header straight at the goalkeeper.

Another All Whites defender, Tommy Smith, was meanwhile coming up against one of the biggest names in the history of the game as Wayne Rooney’s DC United paid a visit to the Colorado Rapids. With All Whites team mate Deklan Wynne looking on from the bench, Smith played the entirety of the 3-2 defeat as DC United claimed the points after scoring three times in eight minutes just before half-time.

In the United Soccer League (USL), Kyle Adams was the only Kiwi to pocket three points as a starter, captaining Rio Grande Valley to a 2-1 win over OKC Energy. Elliot Collier also played the full match as Memphis 901 were beaten 2-0 by Nashville while Sam Brotherton took part in most of North Carolina’s 2-1 loss to Atlanta United before being substituted late on with his side chasing an elusive equaliser. James Musa was given only two minutes from the bench as the Phoenix Rising defeated El Paso Locomotive 2-0.

Eight in a row for Draper

One-cap All White Greg Draper had plenty of reason to celebrate after getting on the scoresheet as The New Saints claimed an eighth consecutive Welsh Premier League title.

The reigning champions needed to take care of business against Barry Town to secure yet another title and Draper got them off to an ideal start, steering in a low volley from near the penalty spot to open the scoring.

The New Saints went on to win 4-0 to make it eight in a row while Draper has all but wrapped up the golden boot race with his 25 goals. Remarkably, the majority of his appearances have come off the bench, underlining how ruthless he has been in front of goal.

His side will now be targeting a double as they have a Welsh Cup final to look forward to against Connah’s Quay Nomads on 5 May.

West Ham skipper praises Reid’s attitude

West Ham United captain Mark Noble has praised the attitude of injured All Whites defender Winston Reid, who has not taken the field for over a year and has now been ruled out for the rest of the English Premier League season.

Rather than allowing frustration to get the better of him, Noble says Reid has shown a positive mind-set and impressive application.

"He seems to have taken it in his stride a lot more than other players I have seen," Noble wrote in his column for The London Evening Standard.

"He comes in, accepts the cards he has been dealt and gets on with his work. He has had a few setbacks but hopefully he can have a good pre-season and get back to the Winston we all know."

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