Ben Gilby provides his weekly round-up of all the action from the Western Australia NPL Women’s competition. As usual, there is a detailed report on one game and a wrap of all the other matches along with photos (16/5/22).
Above: Balcatta Etna goalkeeper Gabby Dal Busco punches clear under heavy pressure against Perth RedStar on Sunday. Photo: JASP Photography.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Hyundai NTC 2-2 Fremantle City
Western Australia’s NTC side were denied at the death in heartbreaking fashion after producing an excellent performance against Fremantle City at E&D Litis Stadium on Friday night.
The teenagers had built a 2-0 lead after just 24 minutes thanks to goals from Tanika Lala and Olivia Trueman against a Freo side firmly ensconced in the top four.
It was not just the scoreboard lead that was impressive about the NTC, their style of play was hugely enjoyable to watch. They were continually looking to build quick passing moves which extended to switching play from flank to flank. Seeing players of such a young age looking so comfortable on the ball and highly skilled at maintaining such a game plan at pace was a major plus.
The NTC were not just good on the ball, but when Freo gained possession, they were immediately shut down by a rapid press.
The second half opened with the teenage side still controlling the play. Lala received the ball in the box with two Fremantle defenders tight to her, but she turned them both brilliantly and fired a rocket of a shot narrowly over the bar.
However, Freo got a foothold with 54 minutes on the clock. A free-kick on the right was played in by Mikayla Lyons and headed clear, but the ball fell immediately to Janice Kiama to slot home.
The goal did not bring about any shift of momentum as NTC continued to control the vast majority of the half. Trueman broke through at pace and slammed in a shot which Fremantle keeper Dayle Schroeder gathered up.
The visitors had an opportunity as Jamie-Lee Gale found Jessica Darmago. Her ball in was deflected off an NTC player and looped up in the air for Matilda Boyle to flick just over the top.
But the NTC were not finished in demonstrating their abilities on the ball. On the hour mark, Georgia Cassidy played a sumptuous cross-field ball, and both Lala and Grace Johnston were inter-linking well in the middle. Johnston was centimetres away from extending her team’s two goal advantage but Schroeder claimed the ball ahead of her as the NTC player slid in to connect with a low ball.
They came close once more with 20 minutes to go as Sophie Meaden crashed a shot that flew centimetres over Schroeder’s bar. Newly introduced Ava Richards got in on the act with 81 minutes played as she danced her way up the left and earned a throw right next to the corner flag which put huge pressure on the Fremantle defence before the clearance was made.
Shortly afterwards, Trueman escaped through the midfield to hit an effort which Schroeder got down to at the right-hand post to push away for a corner.
Yet, when the game’s next goal came, it fell Fremantle’s way. With a minute of normal time left, Gale’s ball in found Lyons who was able to loop a shot into the net.
The NTC kept trying to create, and three minutes into storage time earned back-to-back free-kicks on the edge of the Fremantle box. Cassidy took both, and from the second, curled it in towards the top right-hand corner, but under huge pressure and amid a collision, Schroeder claimed the ball.
The Fremantle keeper was incredibly brave in making the save and required lengthy treatment before the game could resume.
Ultimately, records will show that this game was a draw and that Fremantle came from 2-0 down to do so. NTC will be absolutely devastated at not having won this match. They dominated from start to finish and played fast paced, highly skilled passing football throughout.
Fremantle deserve praise for keeping belief and desire in the face of incessant pressure. They also had the ability to take chances when they arrived. Comebacks like this, notably achieved with the presence of key player Tash Rigby, will be a confidence boost for the games ahead.
There are some excellent youngsters coming through in Western Australia. The challenge now for this competition is to keep them developing in their home state and for a pathway to open up with Perth Glory to play A-League Women rather than these players being lost to the east coast.
Squads: HYUNDAI NTC: Bailey, Adams, Anderson, Cassidy, Trueman, Johnston, Lala, Tana, Harnwell, Meaden, V.Longmore. Substitutes: Thodhlana, Richards, Vega Mena.
Scorers: Lala 12, Trueman 24.
FREMANTLE CITY: Schroeder, S.Longmore, Gale, Lyons, Darmago, McCulloch, Boyle, Leek, Buxey, Kiama, Osborne. Substitutes: Jukic, Poad, Zumerle, Siah.
Scorers: Kiama 54′, Lyons 89′.
Referee: Tom Glavovic.
ROUND SEVEN ROUND-UP:
Leaders Perth RedStar continued their perfect start to the season with a 3-0 win at Balcatta Etna. It was the first time that RedStar, or their previous guise of the Northern Redbacks, had ever won a match at Grindleford Reserve in the NPLW era.
RedStar went ahead with seven minutes on the clock. Shawn Bilham’s cross from the right was towards Larissa Walsh in the centre of the box. Walsh headed out to Jayna Ridley outside her, who beat the offside trap to lay a shot across Balcatta keeper Gabby dal Busco and into the net.
Mia Yeo continued her impressive run of form for Balcatta with a superb run which caused problems for RedStar along the left. The speedster escaped from both Bilham and Andreia Teixeira before getting in a shot which was saved by the visiting goalkeeper Maya Diederichsen.
However, the visitors are relentless and able to take chances when they come. They answered Yeo’s probing with a second goal moments later.
A sweeping move that started with Diederichsen’s subsequent goal kick saw Walsh find Sarah Carroll outside her in the middle of the park. The Perth Glory A-League Women defender played a superb eye of the needle pass in for Olivia Wood to lift over Dal Busco for 2-0 on 25 minutes.
Balcatta had one further chance before the break when Monique Prinsloo got forward along the left and got a shot in which Diederichsen comfortably held.
RedStar had further chances in the second half, notably when Dal Busco made a superb save with her legs, to huge cheers from the Grindleford Reserve crowd. Shortly afterwards, they made it 3-0.
Sarah Carroll was released by Renee Leota along the right and pulled over a pacey cross for Walsh to slam home her tenth goal in six matches this season.
Balcatta were not without opportunities in the second 45. Yeo broke through but her shot lacked the power to worry Diederichsen. In stoppage time, the pacey home star provided a dangerous low cross from the left which Prinsloo slid towards, but Diederichsen held. The points were safe for RedStar who are now seven points clear.
The weekend’s final game was full of drama and goals as Subiaco hosted Curtin University at Rosalie Park.
Curtin took the lead with just two minutes played. They dispossessed the hosts in midfield and breaking away. The original shot was parried by Zara Board with the ball rolling kindly for Dakota Van-Vugt to net from a tight angle.
Subiaco levelled matters with 20 minutes on the clock when Toni Walden’s corner from the right was deflected into her own net by Stephanie Waycott. Yet, the see-saw nature of this match continued as, just eight minutes later, Curtin went back in front. Ava Malata found Suria Varatharaja whose long ball forward caused no end of problems in the home defence with the ball eventually squirmed into the net from with the goalscorer not officially revealed at the time of writing.
There was still time for another goal in stoppage time at the end of the first half and the “we score, you score” pattern continued as Subiaco got back to 2-2. Curtin keeper Stacey Cavill played the ball out to a defender who was rapidly dispossessed and the ball was played back across the box from the left for Ingrid Gomez Basallo to turn and fire home.
Two minutes into the second period, Subi took the lead for the first time. A move that started on their own by-line by Jade Paul eventually saw Frankie Murray release Ashlee Byrne to roll the ball into the net. The home side thought they had clinched the points when they took a 4-2 lead with eight minutes to go thanks to Murray. There was then a delay to the match whilst the lights at Rosalie Park were sorted out before the teams returned to complete the match.
Just a minute after the re-start, Van-Vugt grabbed her second of the afternoon to give Curtin hope. Then, amidst scenes of sheer joy, Taylor Reid scored an incredible equaliser three minutes into stoppage time at the end of the 90 to give the visitors a hard-earned point.
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Round Four catch-up match: (18th May) Hyundai NTC v Balcatta Etna. Round Eight Fixtures: (This weekend): Curtin University v Fremantle City, Hyundai NTC v Perth RedStar, Balcatta Etna v Perth SC, Subiaco v Murdoch University Melville.