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 (30/5/22).
Above: Balcatta Etna (white) battle it out at Murdoch University Melville on Friday night. Photo: JASP Photography.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Perth SC 1-2 Hyundai NTC
The NTC gained arguably the league’s result of the season by defeating Perth SC at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday afternoon thanks to Tanika Lala’s penalty and a sensational long-range effort from Grace Johnston.
The home side went into the game having only lost once all season, a start which had only seen them concede only three goals. They also knew that a win would put them just a point behind Fremantle City with a game in hand in the race for second spot.
Conversely, despite playing some excellent football during the opening two months of the season, the NTC had only won once and conceded 17 goals.
In sunny, but breezy conditions at the home of the Azzurri, both teams created in the earliest exchanges. With just over 30 seconds on the clock, NTC’s Sophie Meaden cruised up the right-hand flank and showed great footwork to beat her marker to find Abbey Woolley. Her cross in was met by a flick header from Tanika Lala at the near post which went narrowly wide. Perth SC responded and earned a corner a minute later, which the visitors cleared.
The teenagers from the NTC continued to focus their attack along the right-hand side with Meaden continuing to produce some teasing balls in. Yet it was the hosts who earned the better of the corner count, with four in the opening quarter alone.
Promising efforts continued for both sides. Zoee Spadano saw an effort come back off the bar after she intercepted an NTC passing movement just to the right of centre. For the visitors, Georgia Cassidy saw an angled lofted shot go just wide from 30 yards.
Whilst the NTC continued to impose their fast-paced passing movements on the game, the Azzurri were alive to the patterns and forced several turnovers in dangerous positions just outside of the box. As the game hit the 20-minute mark, the only thing missing from a Perth SC point of view was a telling final ball for their plethora of dangerous attackers to get onto in order to concern Lilly Bailey in the NTC goal. On one of the relatively few occasions that she was called in to make a direct save in this period, Bailey did well to contain an effort from Spadano at point-blank range.
The home side were working hard at containing the threat of the visitors’ razor-sharp young star Tanika Lala, who is capable of outrageous skill and packs a powerful punch in attacking positions.
There was one further chance to break the deadlock before half-time, but an angled shot from the edge of the box from NTC went just over.
The visitors had the best of the play at the start of the second half, but were unable to force the ball over the line. Perth responded by trying to take the sting out of the game with slower passing exchanges, however, just before the hour mark the opening goal finally arrived.
A ball through from the centre found NTC substitute Mia Britton, who was brought down and, to the audible disappointment of the home crowd, referee Michal Jasinski pointed to the spot. Lala stepped up to roll the ball into the net.
The dangerous NTC attacker had a chance to double her side’s lead shortly afterwards when Perth SC coughed up possession in a dangerous position just outside of their box which allowed Lala to hit a shot that rebounded off of an Azzurri defender before being cleared.
Perth SC looked to hit back and got on level terms with 13 minutes to go. With a home player on the receiving end of what looked to be a clear foul on the edge of the box, Jaime Duncanson didn’t wait for the referee to whistle, but instead turned and lifted a shot into the net.
An expected onslaught from the home side never quite materialised, and instead, four minutes later, the teenagers of the NTC regained the lead in sensational style. Defender Wilma Thodland threaded the ball through to her captain Johnston who turned and hit an outstanding shot into the net from over 25 yards.
The visitors game management in the closing ten minutes belied their tender years as they remained controlled in possession and looked to fizz the ball around.
Perth SC had three chances to hit back in the final stages. Thodlana repelled the first two both for the icing on the cake of an eye-catching personal display. First she put in a perfectly timed slide tackle as the trigger was about to be pulled, and then deep into stoppage time at the end of 90 minutes, slid in again to get a touch on a goal-bound effort to ensure that it went wide.
The final chance came from a corner just before the final whistle. Azzurri goalkeeper Rebecca Bennett came up and got a powerful header on the set-piece, but her opposite number Bailey saved to seal the NTC’s three points.
Teams: PERTH SC: Bennett, Harvey, van Heurck, Barreiro, Phillips, Spadano, Cook, Meakins, Lincoln, McMurdo, Duncanson. Substitutes: Papalia, Connolly, Butlion, Byrne, Spatafore.
Scorer: Duncanson 77′.
HYUNDAI NTC: Bailey, Thodlana, Anderson, Cassidy, Johnston, Lala, Woolley, Vega Mena, Meaden, Longmore.
Scorers: Lala (pen) 57′, Johnston 81′.
Referee: Michal Jasinski.
WEEK NINE ROUND-UP:
This was the first week of the season since Round Two that all eight teams were able to play their scheduled matches due to COVID, and Round Nine began with two games on Friday night. First, at Wauhop Park, Fremantle City hosted Subiaco.
Fremantle are involved in an arm-wrestle with Perth SC for second place on the ladder, and were therefore disappointed to go behind after only 12 minutes on the clock. Ingrid Gomez Basallo won a throw-in on the right which Lilly Bassett took. The ball found Phoenix Brownlie who danced through the middle before curling a sumptuous side-footed shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Despite winning five corners in the period between the goal and half-time, Freo could not respond before the break. Six shots on target in the opening nine minutes of the second period set the tone, and finally, at the hour mark, the home side were on level terms. A delightful threaded pass from Kayla McCulloch found substitute Kate Nolan who took a touch, beat two defenders, and hit a low shot into the far corner of the net. This was just the start of a hugely eventful and influential evening for Nolan who would have a hand in all her team’s goals.
There was a dramatic explosion of action in the final eight minutes when the scoreboard operators were called into a flurry of duty. First, Nolan was played in down the left and her low cross in was met with a thumping finish at the back post from the onrushing Jessica Darmago.
Four minutes later, Nolan was involved once more as she eventually profited from Subiaco losing possession deep in the Freo half after the visitors earned a throw. Nolan beat her player before releasing Siobhan Longmore with a perfectly judged inside pass. Longmore took a touch and dispatched a shot across Zara Board and in for 3-1.
From the resulting kick-off, Longmore dispossessed Subi and released Nolan who took the ball out onto the left-hand wing and, in a similar outcome to Freo’s second goal, put a low cross into the box for the incoming Darmago to dispatch into the net from close range. It was a frustrating outcome for Subiaco who, with eight minutes remaining were heading for what would have been an excellent point.
Also on Friday night, Balcatta Etna got their top-four hopes firing after sealing a 1-0 at Murdoch University Melville. The only goal of the game came just after the hour mark. Monique Godding got free along the left and pulled a cross into the box which evaded everyone. However, Lauren Continibali gathered and put a high ball back into the mix from the opposite flank which bounced high and over the heads of two for Monique Prinsloo to get a touch that Meghan Hulsman could only direct into her own net.
The victors are now fifth, two points behind the NTC, but with a game in hand on the teenagers who are one place above them. It’s been a challenging start to the campaign for Balcatta and after a tough start to the season fixture-wise, plus a stop-start schedule due to COVID, the side from Grindleford Reserve will be out to make sure they stay there.
In the final game of the round on Saturday evening, it was top against bottom as unbeaten leaders Perth RedStar welcomed a Curtin University side that were still looking for their first win of the season.
RedStar maintained their seven-point cushion at the top with a ruthless first-half performance. They took the lead with five minutes played as they gathered possession after a Curtin throw and broke rapidly down the field for Sarah Carroll to square into the box for Larissa Walsh to finish.
With 11 minutes on the clock, the home lead was doubled when the ball was poked through for the finish under visiting goalkeeper Stacey Cavill. Within six minutes it was 3-0 as another rapid move up the right ended with a low cross into the mix which was comfortably turned in.
Curtin University were under constant pressure and with 25 minutes played, a throw on the right saw possession find its way out to Jay Coleman who played in Sarah Carroll to shoot across Cavill and in. Within four minutes, it was 5-0 with a goal that totally encapsulated the class of this RedStars team. Shawn Bilham, again on the right, cut a pass inside the box and an intelligent diagonal run from Walsh saw the competition’s top scorer meet the ball and turn it home into the net. It was almost telepathic.
Six minutes before the break, Cavill cleared the ball in the Curtin goal, but possession found its way back to the home side and after a display of classy one-touch passing, Coleman rolled home the sixth. From the resulting kick-off, Carla Bennett in the centre played the ball outside her to Walsh who had all the time she needed to roll a low shot into the net.
Whilst the 7-0 scoreline at the break emphasised the control that Perth RedStar had during the game, the overall shot count of 16 on target to Curtin’s zero just served to emphasise the total domination of Carlos Vega Mena’s team. Whilst there were no further goals in the second half, that first half achievement alone will be enough to give opposition coaches headaches in the weeks to come. The question remains, can anyone stop Perth RedStar this season?
|Balcatta Etna||7||2||1||4||5||8||7||– 3|
|Murdoch University Melville||6||1||2||3||3||8||5||-5|
Round 10 Fixtures: Murdoch University Melville v Hyundai NTC, Curtin University v Perth SC, Balcatta Etna v Subiaco, Fremantle City v Perth RedStar.