Impetus’ Kieran Yap begins his new weekly round-up of all the action from the women’s NPL competition in Victoria. Each week there will be a detailed report of the match of the week plus a summary of the other games (5/4/22).
Above: Bulleen Lions’ crop of Melbourne Victory A-League Women champions pictured before the game at South Melbourne. Photo: Bulleen Lions.
MATCH OF THE WEEK REPORT
South Melbourne 0-3 Bulleen Lions
Although this was the first game of the 2022 season, much was expected. Both of these sides were impressive before the 2021 season was cancelled. South Melbourne had embarked on a winning run of nine games, while Bulleen had an 11 match unbeaten run.
At the time the season prematurely ended, these two clubs boasted some of the best A-League Women’s players in the state league. Much has changed since and the rosters of many clubs are still incomplete until after round two, but there was significant representation from the national competition on display.
South Melbourne were without many of last season’s big guns, but welcomed Perth Glory youngster Tijan McKenna into the team and Melbourne Victory’s Francesco Iermano.
Bulleen boasted Rebekah Stott, Paige Zois, Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, and Tiffany Eliadis in the starting line up with Alana Jancevski in reserve.
With that considered, it should not have been a surprise that Bulleen were ahead at the final whistle. Not many would have predicted the final score.
All of the damage was done in the first half. South Melbourne controlled much of the possession but were unable to seriously test the Bulleen defence. Eliadis sent the competition a reminder of what she can do in the final third after an A-League season being used in deeper roles.
Rebekah Stott confidently switched play out to Claudia Fruscalzo on the opposite flank. Her quick ball forward was left by Paige Zois and Eliadis hit the accelerator to burst into space and shoot across goal to open the scoring.
Bulleen’s second goal looked even simpler, but was another example of Eliadis at her best. she received the ball wide and outside of the area but ran at the South Melbourne defence and hit a low ball across goal.
Vlajnic stayed onside and met the cross at the back post for the easiest of finishes. It was not a counterattack but the move had the pace of one. South Melbourne had no answer for Eliadis’ running. Bulleen were 2-0 up with 23 minutes played.
Eliadis almost had her second when Vlajnic’s trademark play on the wing found her unmarked and six yards from goal. Somehow her header missed the target, but it was the only blemish on a match-winning performance.
Alex Natoli added a third before halftime after a corner kick caused a goalmouth scramble. The celebrations were delayed but not muted as Bulleen established what turned out to be an unassailable lead.
Not that South Melbourne did not keep trying. This is a club accustomed to success and they pressed for a breakthrough. It was not to be their day and that was obvious when a succession of shots could not find the net.
The most frustrating moment for South Melbourne came in the second half when the ball bounced around the penalty box but nobody could hit the target.
Although South Melbourne finished with 10 shots on goal to Bulleen’s six, they did not look as dangerous. The visitors were far more clinical and slightly more creative in attack.
The result put Bulleen back where they ended the last season, pushing for top spot.
Caitlin Friend’s side will likely again be a chance for honours again and with Victory championship skipper Lia Privitelli to come into the squad and Jancevski returning to fitness they may still grow in strength.
South Melbourne were without one of their star recruits in Claudia Mihocic. The central defender and former FV Emerging captain was away with the Young Matildas. Her performance against Melbourne Victory for Perth Glory suggests that she would have made a difference in this game.
Only 90 minutes have passed, so it is obviously too early to write off South Melbourne. But it is not too early to get excited about Bulleen.
Squads: SOUTH MELBOURNE: Farrow, Murray, Young, Bramley, Lawson, Sandhu, Pickett, McKenna, Papatsanis, Goff, Iermano. Substitutes: Picak, Kandilas, Hronopoulos, Stringfellow, Carman.
BULLEEN LIONS: Shields, Natoli, Fruscalzo, Zois, Burn, Eliadis, O’Bryan, Stott, Muldeary, Vlajnic, Dolzan. Substitutes: Sernio, Lettieri, Little, Johnson, Rodger, Jancevski.
Scorers: Eliadis, Vlajnic, Natoli.
Referee: Senko Rastocic.
Elsewhere, Victoria’s NPLW provided some interesting results. Heidelberg United got off to a brilliant start with a 5-1 thrashing of Bayside United. Steph Galea hit four goals with Eve Tiktikakis adding the other. Maryam Anvari was on target for Bayside. Box Hill United and Calder United drew 0-0 on Friday night. FV Emerging defeated Alamein 2-0 with a goal either side of halftime from Candice Kilderry and Ellie Vlaeminck.
Each week Impetus will bring you the best of the action from the NPL Women’s competitions with Kieran Yap reporting on the Victoria competition and Ben Gilby on Western Australia.