For the first 45 minutes it looked dire for Claudelands Rovers in the LottoNRFL Women's promotion play-offs against Ellerslie AFC, but an inspired second half performance led by Rachel Porteous hauled the Hamilton side back into the tie with it all to play for in Auckland next Sunday.

Claudelands were without two of their key players from the second half of the season, with both Leanna Ryan and Lauren McErlean unavailable for the tie, and in the first half it looked as if the latter's presence was missed as Claudelands struggled to settle in the midfield.

Ellerslie AFC were dominant throughout the first 45, their passing precise and accurate, and were good value for the two goals they had scored in the opening 20 minutes.

Were it not for the goalkeeping heroics of Amberley Hollis in the first half, the tie could have well been put to bed, such were the Auckland's side dominance.


In the second half, the game flipped on its head as Claudelands came out to play their game.

Early on in the second half from a corner, Rachel Porteous fired a rocket into the Ellerslie box which somehow found its way into the back of the net, lifting the home side's spirit.

Ellerslie's AFC defence still stood strong and despite the tenacious work of Stella Neems, Rhiannon Jones and in particular Stacey Palmer, a second goal seemed to be out of reach.

Evahn Martinsen and Olivia Schuler were brought on to provide fresh legs out in the wide area, with the latter playing a critical role later on in the game.

Emily Woollaston was brought on, with Palmer dropping back, and found the energy to keep going in the midfield.

The fresh legs proved pivotal, as pressure from Emily Woollaston forced a corner for Claudelands. The delivery found Schuler at the near post who composed herself to whip a ball across goal, which Rhiannon Jones turned home with the help of her backside to level the tie in the 90th minute.

It leaves the overall tie at 2-2, and making next week's game an all to play for. A 1-0 win would be enough for Claudelands to be promoted, but if the score remains level on aggregate, then the away goal rule (away goals counting as two) will come into effect.