Above: Chengshu Wu on the ball for Canberra United. Photo: Canberra United.
In what is arguably their most important result of the season, Canberra United have put themselves in a very good position for potential Finals football as they beat top-of-the-table Western United 3-0 with two goals from Vesna Milivojević and Chengshu Wu grabbing the other.
Talk about an instant impact in the first minute of the match for Canberra United, Western United passed the ball around their end and unfortunately, Hillary Beall’s ball out of the box immediately went to Milivojević on the left-hand side of the area. She controlled the ball and then hit a shot into the far corner of the net.
Hannah Keane responded with a very good cross in the box for Emma Robers, but her header went over the bar.
The proceedings were halted in the 19th minute due to Robers having come off worse from her challenge on Ellie Brush. She awkwardly landed in the aftermath of the contact made and as a result, had to be helped off the pitch.
Western United had a decent opportunity to have scored in the 36th minute as Kahli Johnson intercepted the ball from Canberra’s Hayley Taylor-Young. Johnson then played the ball off to Keane who made a run into the box which amounted to a shot on an angle. Thanks to Brush’s intervention, it went over the bar.
In stoppage time at the end of the first half, a piece of free-kick magic from Grace Maher was just denied by both the crossbar and the finest of millimeters.
Canberra continued to create, and just before the hour mark came close once more. Milivojević played in Wu. The Chinese star had made a run into the box, cut in, and then had a shot towards goal which was tipped over the bar by Beall.
In the 65th minute, Heyman turned and played a brilliant through ball for Milivojević that allowed her to make a run into the box where she controlled before slotting into the bottom right corner for her and Canberra’s second goal of the match.
Less than 10 minutes later, Sydney Cummings cleared a shot away for the home side, only for it to fall to Wu outside the box who chested the ball down and fire a shot past Beall to put Canberra out of sight.
The win was the icing on the cake for Michelle Heyman who broke the record for all-time appearances in the A-League Women by playing in this match. Her 158th game saw her surpass the previous record holder, Teresa Polias. A great achievement by an all-time great of the competition.
Teams:WESTERN UNITED (4-1-2-1-2): Beall, Beard, Cummings, Cerne, Vlajnić, Sawicki, M. Taranto, Robers, A. Taranto, Keane, Johnson. Substitutes: Dall’Oste, Iermano, Sardo, Papadopoulos, Steer.
CANBERRA UNITED (4-4-1-1): Lincoln, Hughes, Brush, Grove, Wu, Maher, Jale, Taylor-Young, Milivojević, Flannery, Heyman. Substitutes: Richards, Murray, Middleton, McComasky, Faulknor.
Above: The Jets swarm Cass Davis after her goal against Wellington Phoenix.Photo: Liberty A-League Women.
Cass Davis’ first-ever A-League Women goal in her 127th appearance, sealed a stunning victory for Newcastle Jets who twice came from behind to defeat Wellington Phoenix in the battle of the bottom two at Number Two Sportsground today.
Phoenix, determined to finish the season on a high note and show that they are a force to be reckoned with in the league met an equally motivated Newcastle Jets side in this huge came in the battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
The match was transitional, with frequent end-to-end play. The Phoenix were plagued by offsides calls in the first half.
In the 24th minute, a clever pass from Emma Rolston to Paige Satchell set up a quality shot and was deflected by Jets goalkeeper Georgina Worth. The resulting corner kick was taken by Michaela Foster who dropped it just outside the six-yard box on the head of Marissa Van der Meer who found the goal.
The Phoenix, who owned the flanks, again suffered from poor finishing in the final third. They also suffered back-to-back yellow cards – first to Kate Taylor for a challenge on Emily Roach and the other to Nix’s assistant coach. This impacted on bit of the rhythm that the Phoenix were creating.
In the 39th minute, Newcastle’s Cass Davis created a beautiful assist from the top of the box dropping it into Lauren Allan’s feet who volleyed it in for a goal. The clubs went into halftime even.
The first chance of the second period, just four minutes in fell to the visitors, as Robertson’s shot from distance hit the back of the net, but Rolston was called offside.
Within five minutes, the Nix hit the front again as Betsy Hassett assisted from top to a charging Paige Satchell on the right. The Phoenix would again believe they could win.
The lead would not be kept for long. In the 64th minute, after created multiple chances in the box, Ash Brodigan finally finished off a Kate Taylor deflection to level the scores once more.
The sense of desperation to go ahead overwhelmed any need for composure on both sides. In the 81st minute Davis’ strike sealed the win for the Jets. It was a stunning strike for her first-ever goal in the competition after so many years of fine service for her club. Cutting inside on the right-hand side of the box, Davis unleashed a powerful effort that flew high into the net. It was a superb goal, and also marked a winning end to Jets’ legend Tara Andrews’ final home game before retirement.
Despite taking the lead twice, the Nix were unable to hold onto it, and the Jets’ persistence paid off with three well-earned goals. The Phoenix will have to regroup and focus on their remaining games to finish the season. They stand five points adrift of Newcastle at the bottom of the ladder.
Reflecting on the match, Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence said: “This one hurts for everyone. We came up short. Again, we created a lot, the goalkeeper made some great saves, we gave away scrappy goals and we couldn’t handle the momentum shifts in the game.
“I think that’s one of the biggest reflections today, controlling and managing the game. We struggled when they changed momentum to deal with their level of intensity. When you go 2-1 up, you’re hoping this is your game. The girls are gutted.”
Lawrence still believes the Phoenix can avoid a second straight wooden spoon. “We always knew this game was the one that was in our hands to get off the bottom of the league. That was and still is a massive goal for us.
“We still have six points that we can get. We know that this one would have helped to achieve those goals and going ahead twice it’s one that hurts for sure. We’ve got to move on. We haven’t got time to dwell. Often the players say to me I wish I was playing tomorrow, and we very nearly are.
“We’ll feel sorry for ourselves today and then…move on to the next game against Adelaide.”
With a game in hand, Wellington will look to bounce back in their matches at Adelaide United and home to Finals chasing Melbourne Victory to again try to prove themselves. Meanwhile, the Newcastle Jets can celebrate a hard-earned victory going towards their remaining game of the season away to Sydney FC who will be going flat out for the Premiership.
Above: Nat Tobin celebrates with her Sydney FC teammates after scoring Sydney’s second goal. Photo:Sydney FC.
Sydney FC defeated Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon at home, providing a big boost for their hopes of winning the premiership for the third time in a row, something that has never been done in A-League Women’s history.
The match began slowly, with both sides feeling each other out. Their last meeting was back in November 2022 when Adelaide shocked Sydney with a late game-winner from Emilia Murray. There were a few attempts up each end, drawing saves from both keepers. But both sides were struggling to keep possession and build any truly dangerous attacks.
In the 14th minute, out of nowhere, an attempted long shot from Nat Tobin in the midfield deflected unkindly off an Adelaide defender and landed awkwardly in the box. Both Reds goalkeeper Annalee Grove and Sydney’s Rachel Lowe went for the ball. Grove was unable to get a firm grip, allowing Lowe an easy tap-in to secure the lead.
Adelaide had a few chances up the other end in the rest of the first half, but both the Sydney defensive line and Jada Whyman were equal to everything the South Australian side could throw at them.
The second half picked up where the first had left off, Adelaide with lion’s share of possession, but not able to do much with it. When Sydney got the ball they were pressing forward and taking shots on goal. Grove made a number of brilliant saves to keep her team in the match, but the Adelaide defence were conceding far too many corners.
Just before the 70-minute mark, a corner kick from Mackenzie Hawkesby dropped into the box and Adelaide failed to clear allowing Sydney captain and star defender, Tobin, to step up and slotted it past Grove to make it 2-0.
Just over 10 minutes later, Hawkesby, who had been working so hard all match, finally got her reward. A clever flick-on from Madison Haley gave Princess Ibini the ball in an acre of space. She ran down the left flank and worked hard to get past the defenders and hit a beautifully weighted cross to Hawkesby who was perched just in front of the goal and tucked it in to put the nail in the coffin for Adelaide.
Although Adelaide held the majority of the possession, Sydney were much more aggressive and efficient when they had the ball. Their quick passing, dynamic movement, and attacking mentality were too strong for Adelaide.
It was a fantastic team performance from Sydney with everyone performing well and working together harmoniously. Tobin had a phenomenal game, defending superbly up the back and being involved in the attacks up front as well. She was directly involved in setting up the first goal, and she scored the second by herself.
It also must be said that despite conceding three goals, Grove was immense for Adelaide. She made nine saves against the fearsome attacking force that is Sydney. She did everything she could to keep her side in the match.
Adelaide United will play again on Tuesday when they take on Wellington Phoenix in their last match of the season. Sydney FC will play Perth Glory on Wednesday.
Teams:SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Whyman, Rule, Tobin, de la Harpe, Green, Hunter, I. Dos Santos, Hawkesby, Vine, Lowe, Ibini. Substitutes: Offer, Fenton, Stanic-Floody, Haley, Lemon.
Scorers:14’ Lowe, Tobin 67’, Hawkesby 79’.
ADELAIDE UNITED (4-4–3): Grove, E. Hodgson, Waldus, McCormick, I. Hodgson, Holmes, Sasaki, Westland, Bowler, Worts, Murray. Substitutes: Wilson, Tonkin, Barbieri, Hayward, Panagaris.
Above: Polly Doran in action for Crystal Palace away to Sheffield United in a recent Championship match. Photo: Matthew Appleby.
The weather is cold, the league is tough, but Polly Doran is used to overcoming (and dishing out) challenges.
“London life has been great so far,” The Crystal Palace full back told Impetus. “It’s definitely been a adjustment, but I’ve loved exploring a new city and have managed a bit of sightseeing in my spare time. The weather is the only downfall really, I’m definitely missing the sun.”
Doran has been a regular starter at the Barclays Championship (tier two) side since arriving from Australia. Her runs from deep and dangerous crossing have made her an asset to the South London side. Doran has made the step up to European football easily, but given her journey so far, it should come as no surprise.
Doran arrived at the top of the Australian game by taking the scenic route. She did not rise through of any of the usual elite pathways such as the Future Matildas. Instead, Doran first came to prominence at Essendon Royals in Victoria’s third tier.
Success at that level attracted the attention of Calder United. The NPLW side is one of Victoria’s most successful women’s teams. They have a winning culture and under then manager Mark Torcaso, were able to attract some of the best players in the country. Future and former A-League Women’s and international players adorn the Calder United team sheet of that era. Doran shared the locker room with names like Catherine Zimmerman, and Angie Beard. Both of whom would become A-League Grand Final teammates.
It was in 2019 when Doran became well known to Victorian football fans. Across 29 games Doran scored 14 goals. Playing mostly as an attacker, she used her now familiar pace and tenacity to make a big impact as Calder United charged to another trophy.
That same year, she was signed by Melbourne Victory for the 2019/20 season, although the then 17-year-old only made seven appearances.
In the 2020/21 season, Doran was shifted to right back, and was a crucial piece of the puzzle as Victory finished third, but won the Grand Final in dramatic style.
The following season, she established herself as one of the best fullbacks in a league brimming with them. Victory were struck by injuries and disadvantaged by a COVID outbreak and an overly congested fixture. However Doran was tireless and almost flawless as the reigning champions defended their crown.
Her success as a dual league champion has resulted in a move to Europe, and while there is a slight adjustment off the pitch, she has looked as comfortable as ever bombarding along that right flank at Crystal Palace.
“The move to Palace came about mainly through my agent networking with some clubs, and Victory being open to forming a good relationship with Palace. I was lucky that I had all the right people trying to help me and push me forward in my career.
“The A-League prepared me well for European football as I had experience playing first team football since I was 17. It exposed me to professionalism required at that level, as well as being away from home and travelling to train and play.
“The culture is pretty similar, everyone is easy going. But I’d say the lack of good beaches has been the biggest one. I’m very lucky in the area I live there’s plenty of good cafes around, Aussies seem to have influenced it a fair bit and the coffee has been decent.”
Doran was a firm fan favourite during her time at Victory and is on track to emulate that status in London. The Melbourne Victory fans, known as The Victory Vikings, have followed her progress, and in Australia, the their former hero’s London club is now affectionately dubbed Polly’s Palace.
“I’m definitely missing the Vikings and their mascots,” says Doran. “But my family has been going to the Victory games and keeping me updated with what’s going on.”
Crystal Palace have signed a rising Australian star and one that has been a habitual winner at every stage of her career and in whatever position she has played in. Polly Doran might have come up the long way, but she has made it look easy.
Above: AFC Wimbledon come together after their game in East London last night. Photo: Emily Topping.
There was late heartbreak for AFC Wimbledon last night as they conceded a 93rd minute equaliser at London Seaward that dealt a blow to their tier four FA Women’s National League Division One South-East title ambitions.
Despite a positive performance from the Dons, hosts London Seaward levelled matters right at the death to ensure the points were shared in difficult conditions.
With the rain pouring down in East London, kick-off was delayed due to a number of Dons players getting stuck in traffic in the surrounding area. However, when the game did get underway it was an encouraging start from the visitors.
Gloria Siber and Emma Plewa looked lively down the flanks on a pitch that made it difficult to play the style of football that has led to so much success for Wimbledon in recent weeks.
With the game having a physical edge, the Dons had a number of early chances, the pick of which came when Emily Donovan forced the home keeper into a good save. Ten minutes later the breakthrough was made as a Becki Bath free-kick was flicked into the net by Seaward’s Giorgia Bracelli to give the AFC Wimbledon a deserved lead at half time.
In the second-half, Wimbledon created even more opportunities, starting with Ellie Dorey, whose shot went over the bar after some fine work from Gloria Siber. However, the save of the night came from Faye Baker, who in her first game back after injury, produced a fine save at full stretch to deny the hosts an equalising goal.
Wimbledon continued to push for the all-important cushion of a second goal with Bath forcing the home keeper into a fine save, before Lauren Heria came on for her Dons debut. This was shortly followed by another great chance as a curling effort from Siber struck a post. With 10 minutes to go, the physical nature of the game and Wimbledon’s busy fixture list began to take its toll as Seaward began to dominate the closing stages and the sting in the tail came deep into injury-time.
Dons manager Kevin Foster said: “It is so tough with these Thursday night fixtures. It has taken some of these girls two and a half hours to get here and we had to delay kick-off – the players going out there without any sort of warm-up. They have ultimately just done it and given it their best. I couldn’t be more proud of the way they stuck with it.”
The draw leaves AFC Wimbledon four points behind leaders Hashtag United in second place. There is no respite for the Dons with a game at Loftus Road versus Queen’s Park Rangers. This is followed by a game at home to Cambridge City at Plough Lane on 2nd April.
Above: Katriina Talaslahti warming up before FC Fleury 91’s game against Nantes at the start of this month in the Coupe de France. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.
Finnish goalkeeper Katriina Talaslahti, who helped FC Fleury 91 to finish fourth in D1 Arkema last season and progress to the semifinal of Coupe de France, revealed to Impetus’ Jean-Pierre Thiesset that after having very little game time this year after the return of Manon Heil from giving birth, she needs to consider her options carefully.
Talaslahti said that, even though she remains on good terms with FC Fleury 91, she does not fully understand the predicament regarding her lack of minutes this season. As her contract at the club will end at the end of the campaign, the shot-stopper says that she has, as yet, had no contact with the club about a new deal.
Speaking about how she feels at this stage of her career, the Finnish player said: “As I am turning 23 this year, my priority now is to have playing time so that makes me think to change and look to new opportunities; but otherwise, I am feeling good in my life, and this is just the football situation I am not happy with.”
Her first choice would be to continue to play in France in D1 Arkema because she believes that it is a very good standard and she enjoys life in France. However, Talaslahti is open to move to one of the top teams in the main leagues in Europe like Germany, Spain, or Italy. She revealed that England would be nice too but, due to restrictions on overseas players there in terms of the amount of minutes they play at their current club, it is unlikely she would be eligible for a move to the WSL.
The Finn also reflected on the recent upheaval around the French national team and the eventual departure of head coach Corinne Diacre by saying: “It was a good thing that Wendie Renard step(ped) up as she is a very big person and player in women’s football. Everyone knows her, and even if it is going to look negative first, the outcome will be better for France team.”
The FC Fleury 91 goalkeeper concluded by saying: “I am confident in my future because I work hard. I know my own level, and I know that I can play in a higher-level team.”
Ben Gilby reportson both head coach’s media conferences ahead of Sunday’s A-League Women match at Macedonia Park – plus all the details as Matildas star Chloe Logarzo returns to Western United long term (24/3/23).
Above: Perth Glory boss Alex Epakis. Image: Perth Glory.
Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis wants his team to end their home campaign on a high note against Melbourne City to give club legend Kim Carroll a big send-off and keep their Finals hopes alive.
However, it will be no easy feat. As well as taking on third-placed City, Glory come into the match on the back of a marathon 5,254km (3,265 miles) journey from their previous match at Wellington Phoenix, with stopovers between flights.
“It was a long trip and (there were) a lot of aspects to it with stopovers too,” Epakis recognised. “We got what we wanted – the performance and the result. We’ve been building players up steadily knowing we have a bit of fatigue still in us.”
Perth’s head coach was delighted by his team’s efforts in New Zealand – where they defended excellently in the face of pressure from the Nix.
“I had been disappointed with the goals that we had conceded in the two games prior…but the players responded really well as we were under the pump a bit and we defended the box well in numbers. I was really pleased with not just the defence, but the whole team had the mentality to contribute to the defence.”
Sunday’s match against Melbourne City begins Perth’s end-of-season sequence of three games in three states in six days. It’s a tough ask, but one Epakis believes offers his side a chance to end the season on a high.
“Whilst we know what is ahead, we don’t look too far ahead, take match by match, day by day. City is a real opportunity for us if we are focused. Then Sydney, then Brisbane.”
Melbourne City’s strong squad and possession-based game are well-known, but the Glory head coach believes that his team’s performance against Dario Vidosic’s team earlier in the season means that the purples are more than capable of securing a vital three points.
“When you look at their squad and playing style, they (Melbourne City) are well balanced. They have a clear identity with what they need to do. We need to match and be good with the ball and without the ball.
“We’ve taken inspiration from what we did the last time we played them – we had a strong performance. We had some really good opportunities. We can definitely go toe-to-toe with them.”
As well as Sunday being the club’s last home game of the season, it will also be the last time that club legend Kim Carroll will pull on a purple shirt in Western Australia, and Epakis underlined the importance of giving the former Matilda a big and victorious send-off.
“Given that everyone has a lot of respect and love for Kim, emotion was shared when it was announced and for the match coming up as it’s her last home game – rightly so as she has been a fantastic person for the team, the club, and the game in general. She deserves all the accolades. There is extra motivation for the team to put on a performance that she will remember for her last home one.”
The message from Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic to the media today was very simple – “We’re going to Perth, we’re going to win, and we’re going to play.”
However, Vidosic identifies three significant hurdles that his team will need to overcome in order to get that win – the travel to Perth with associated disruption to sleep, the significance of it being Kim Carroll’s final home match, and Perth’s need to win the match.
“It’s a hard trip with the time zone and sleep, but once you cross that white line, there are no excuses. If we play our football we’ll be fine. We’ll play our way.
“They have a game they must win. Maybe they will throw a bit more numbers forward and search for that winning goal. We’ve analysed their games. It’s always very hard – they are at home. For Kim, it’s her last home game before her retirement. It will be a great day, a great occasion. We are expecting the best Perth Glory to play against us this season.”
The City boss was asked if he agrees with the assertion that the number of young Victorian-born players that Perth have in their side is a factor as they may seem extra motivated to play against a Melbourne team having not had “a fair crack in Victoria”.
“We keep in mind all their players, not just their Victorian ones. We know their mindset, they have to beat us. The meaning it has for them carries weight. We have to win too, if we don’t we could have a do-or-die game next weekend.”
Vidosic also spoke of his pride in Holly McNamara being called back into the international set-up for Australia’s forthcoming matches with Scotland and England so soon after her return from an ACL injury.
“She’s a very, very good player. They (the Matildas’ coaching staff) have seen a lot of her beforehand. She did well when she came in prior to her injury. She’s a fantastic player and she thoroughly deserves it for all the hard work she did in rehab. She has a great mindset.”
With Vidosic having a plethora of attacking options up his sleeve for the match, he outlined how he goes about fitting them into his squad.
“It depends on what tactical idea we want to go with. We’ve decided what we want to do in Perth. We have a lot of quality – it’s about finding the best way to help the team. We have good quality to impact the game, and everyone to play their part. In some games, we may need X players, in other games, it may be Y.”
Major boost for Western United as Logarzo commits
Matildas star Chloe Logarzo will return to Western United for the remainder of the 2022/23 Liberty A-League Women season, and for the entire 2023/24 campaign.
Logarzo departed Western United in February when her loan contract came to an end, but the midfielder has now re-joined United as a free agent having been released from Kansas City Current.
The 28-year-old will step back into the No.6 shirt that she worse on six occasions earlier in the Liberty A-League season.
Logarzo said she was grateful and overjoyed to be able to return to the club and pick up where she left off.
“I’m extremely excited to re-join the girls and the Western United fans. I feel very blessed that the team are here to support me in any and every way possible,” she said.
“The girls have been doing an incredible job and I’m looking forward to supporting and driving the team to get the very best out of every single person.”
Western United Head Coach Mark Torcaso said Logarzo’s arrival would provide his team with a significant boost heading into the Liberty A-League Finals, while also admitting her commitment to next season offers a statement of United’s continued intent in the competition.
“Chloe coming back is immensely exciting for us and will provide everyone with a big lift heading into the final weeks of this season,” he said.
“Everyone knows her talent, but Chloe’s leadership and contribution to our team culture was above and beyond what I or any of our staff could have expected.
“That’s why it is so important to have her back for what’s left of this season and also heading into next year. We want to continue setting high standards for our program and Chloe being here will certainly help us do just that.”
Logarzo debuted for United in the Club’s inaugural match against Melbourne Victory on 19 November and went on to score three goals in her six matches – a brace against Melbourne City and an additional strike against Perth Glory.
Her minutes were ultimately limited due to a foot injury, but Logarzo has now returned to fitness and is ready to get back on the pitch at a high level ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Logarzo will arrive back in Melbourne next week with an eye on featuring in the Finals Series as United chases silverware in its inaugural season in the Liberty A-League.
On International Women’s Day, Impetus announced the sponsorship of Adran Premier side Aberystwyth Town‘s young duo Ella Thomas and Modlen Gwynne. In the second in our series of interviews introducing our latest sponsored players, Ella Thomas answered Ben Gilby‘s questions(23/3/23).
Above: Ella Thomas (left) in action for Aberystwyth Town against Barry Town United in the Adran Premier. Photo: Steve Williams. Supplied to Impetus by: Aberystwyth Town Women.
Ella Thomas is on the crest of a footballing wave. With her career in its embryonic stages,she is juggling GCSE revision with playing in the top tier of Welsh club football with Aberystwyth Town.
Ella made a choice at the age of seven in terms of what she wanted to pursue, and has not looked back. “I gave up dance and started playing football for my local, all-girls team. I played up to 14 until I progressed enough to play for the Aberystwyth Town under 16s team where I found my position on the right wing.
“During my time with the under 16s I started working harder and focused on improving my fitness and speed, which led me further in my footballing journey to where I am now currently playing for the under 19s in Aberystwyth Town Women’s Football Club.”
Ella, who describes herself as “a right-footed winger with pace who likes to take on defenders,” has been blessed with having inspirational coaches from an early age.
“When I started playing football my local team coach, Kate Evans helped me develop my football skills from an early age whilst playing for Bow Street. My parents are also key people who have helped me develop as a player as they have taken me to my games and given me great advice and support over the years. After joining Aberystwyth Town Academy, Roy Tourle my present coach, and Gavin Allen, the first-team manager, have had a massive impact on my development, and I am extremely grateful!”
Coming so far at the age of 15 has not come without its challenges for Ella, as she revealed: “When coming into senior football this season, the physicality and tempo of the game have been the most challenging for me as a player.
“To overcome these challenges I have played more games and got used to the tempo. I have also started training with the first team which has helped me become stronger and has enabled me to see different strategies of the game.”
There is also the challenge of combining studying for forthcoming GCSE exams as well as playing U19 and senior football for Aberystwyth Town. It’s something that Ella admits is hard.
“I find it very difficult to balance my education with football, especially with my GCSEs in the next coming months. However, I try my best to balance them out and when I’m not playing I spend my time revising.”
The young winger is extremely grateful for Impetus‘ sponsorship and highlighted the benefits it provides her with. “I’m so pleased to be sponsored by Impetus for 2023/24. Sponsorship is so important to us as it means I don’t have to worry about finding the money to pay for things such as kit or a minibus to away games and can just concentrate on football.”
Whilst the sponsorship begins next season, Ella still has targets that she wants to achieve in the final weeks of this campaign. “My aims are to get more experience whilst training with the first team and to develop further as a player. I would love to become a regular in Aberystwyth Town Women’s first team.”
Above: Beth Jones, who scored Pride Park’s late leveller, seen here in action in a previous match against Castle Donington. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.
Pride Park were away at current leaders and Derbyshire Ladies League Division One (tier seven) champions for the last two seasons Draycott Victoria on Sunday. Pride were forced to field an emergency backup ‘keeper Steph Eadon (usually an outfield player) for the second game in succession which, perhaps in combination with a strong wind behind them, resulted in a very direct approach from Draycott in the first half.
Pride made a tentative start – perhaps understandable in the circumstances and against the league’s leading scorers and most miserly defence – conceding only four goals in 12 games – but gradually grew into the match. The pattern of play was set in the first minute when Draycott won possession on halfway, the ball was played square infield and a shot was taken from just outside the centre circle, but held comfortably by Steph Eadon.
Goal kicks and clearances were not getting very far upfield in the wind, so most of the play was in Pride’s defensive third and the centre of the pitch but it was, nevertheless, a fairly balanced half in which Draycott were limited in the main to shots from distance – their best chance not coming until the 43rd minute, when a cross from the right was met on the edge of the area with a first time shot that cleared the crossbar.
The wind had dropped to little more than a gentle breeze, so Pride didn’t have that advantage in the second half but, nevertheless, enjoyed the better of possession and territory with the majority of play in Draycott’s half. The home side were finding it difficult to get out and became visibly frustrated. However, despite good possession and territory, clear sights of goal for Pride were few and far between.
Pride’s best chances fell to Beth Jones, who was only just over with a header from a Tash Allderidge corner on the hour and had a couple of efforts off target after working space inside the box.
There was a late challenge by a Draycott defender on Allderidge, who took studs across the ankle – the defender was fortunate to escape with a talking to and, after treatment, Allderidge was able to continue.
Pride’s best chance came on 67 minutes – a free kick from near the corner on the right was headed on by Beth Jones but beyond the far post. Otty Baker did extremely well to not only keep it in but deliver a looping cross to the back post but Jones headed over with the goal at her mercy. Undeterred, she had another close effort five minutes later after Rachel Weaver’s clearance was headed on by Hannah Kwiatek into Jones’ path, she cut inside and unleashed a fierce shot that just cleared the bar.
With nine minutes to play, Draycott made the breakthrough against the run of play. Having already got behind the Pride defence with a diagonal ball, but caught offside, this time Draycott timed it right, and the pass was met with a shot from just outside the area that cleared Eadon – who got a hand to it but couldn’t keep it out, to give Draycott a 1-0 lead.
Pride were forced to take more chances in search of an equaliser and in the 89th minute were almost caught out, but a superb double save by stand-in ‘keeper Eadon kept Pride in the game – a Draycott cross from the left to the far side of the area could only be cleared back into the centre. The striker’s first-time shot was saved by Eadon low to her right and she somehow recovered sufficiently to immediately spring to her left to collect the striker’s point-blank shot on the rebound.
As play went into the 92nd minute Eadon’s kick upfield was glanced on by a Draycott midfielder and collected by Jones with her back to goal, who took one touch to get the ball out of her feet before turning and unleashing a shot up over the goalkeeper and in off crossbar from 25 yards. It was by some distance her most difficult chance of the game but she saved the best to last – to cue up wild celebrations. There was only enough time left for the whistle to go immediately on the restart – the equaliser had, literally, been the last kick of the game.
The wind and a difficult surface meant it wasn’t a day for expansive attractive play – a more pragmatic approach being the order of the day. It was, however, an enthralling and competitive game between two closely matched teams with a desire to win. The draw will feel like a win for Pride and whilst it was the latest possible moment for the equaliser, was the very least they deserved in the circumstances.
Summer Evans worked tirelessly for little reward and Beth Jones did what Beth Jones does to score her 21st league goal of the season. The defensive unit of goalkeeper and the five that played in the back four were outstanding considering the conditions and circumstances, particularly in the first half, but the whole team stood up well to the physical challenge posed by a strong and experienced Draycott side – and most notably Ella Kew in the central midfield battleground in her first season at open age.
Pride Park are back at Moorways next Sunday when they host Borrowash Victoria (kick off 1.30pm).
Ben Phillips reports on Everton boss Brian Sørensen‘s media conference ahead of tomorrow’s Merseyside derby with Liverpool at Goodison Park (23/3/23).
Above: Brian Sørensen, who reflected his excitement to the media today ahead of Goodison Park’s WSL Merseyside derby tomorrow night. Photo: Lars Ronbog.
The Blues host neighbours Liverpool at Goodison Park on Friday evening with over 20,000 tickets already sold.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash, head coach Sørensen was asked if he had felt the pressure and hype from fans ahead of the Merseyside derby. “Yes there has been a lot of hype about it, Last night I could see they were putting pictures up in one of the buildings in the dock here, that was really nice.”
The Toffies’ head coach is excited by the prospect of tomorrow’s match. “We know Liverpool will be up for the fight and they will try and (will want) revenge (for) what happened at Anfield. It’s going to be a big game with a big crowd, under the lights and I don’t think it gets much better.”
The game promises to be another entertaining encounter between the two sides and Everton will be hoping for another three points after beating Liverpool in the last fixture between the sides back in September at Anfield 3-0.
In terms of what he expects from his players tomorrow night, Sørensen said: “We hope we can show our football and impose our style against them and get the win. The(y) (players) must be wary of Liverpool’s thirst for revenge having been defeated on their own turf. That was a special night.
“Going there and winning and winning the way we did of course. I am not saying it was easy, but it was probably a bit easier than we expected, but tomorrow I think we will see a different Liverpool and they will be up for it.”
Everton are without a win in the league since their 3-0 win at West Ham United in January, but the results haven’t reflected how the team has been performing according to the head coach.
“Our performances must start translating to winning results. The style of play we have is to try and control and dominate games, we want to be in control of the game and that is hard to do in football. We have a young team, but we believe we are on the right path to building something consistent.
“The whole time we have been looking at our team performances and been happy with them, we now need to take the three points and start winning when dominating games so much. Hopefully, we will see that Friday night against a good Liverpool team.”
Ahead of the game, the only injury concerns for Everton are Karen Holmgaard who will be monitored in line with concussion protocols. Her twin sister Sara is fit and available again, but goalkeeper Emily Ramsey has been ruled out of the clash with an ankle injury received on international duty with England.