Auckland had to battle hard and needed a shootout which went to sudden death before they finally saw off a determined Central squad to reach the semi-finals of the Ford National League in Wellington on Thursday.

Auckland finished top of Pool A and Central bottom of Pool B, but there was nothing between the teams after 60 minutes, the score finishing 1-1 with Auckland taking a sixth minute lead only for Central to equalise a minute later.

The match went to a shootout and after each team had scored from their first attempts, Auckland’s captain and former Surbiton player Julia King became the first player to fail to score.

Fortunately for Auckland, Central couldn’t make a breakthrough either and with Auckland leading 2-1, Surbiton’s Beckie Middleton had the opportunity to seal Auckland’s place in the last four against her former club.

Unfortunately her attempt was not successful with Central scoring from their fifth and final attempt to take the shootout into sudden death.

Auckland elected to give the first sudden death attempt to Samantha Harrison, who had scored in the first barrage and was successful, however, Central chose Michaela Curtis, who had failed to convert Central’s third attempt and failed a second time, Auckland reaching the semi-finals 3-2 in the shootout.

Both Middleton and King were in Auckland’s starting line-up.

Auckland face Midlands in the second semi-final at 8 am (BST) on Friday. Midlands beat Capital 1-0 to reach the semi-finals.

The first semi-final sees North Harbour play Northland. North Harbour ended Canterbury’s reign as champions with a 2-1 victory.

More information about the tournament can be found at the New Zealand Altius website here