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 (6/6/22).
Above: Perth RedStar celebrate after scoring in the second half of their top two clash at Fremantle City. Photo: Fotoenzo.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Fremantle City 1-3 Perth RedStar
Perth RedStar extended their 100% success rate this season with victory at Hilton Park against Fremantle City in the battle of the top two – a result that puts them 10 points clear at the top of the table.
Whilst third-placed Perth SC have a game in hand, plus a pair of huge up-coming matches against both Fremantle and RedStar, it remains almost impossible to see anyone denying the league leaders before the Top Four Cup this season.
Both teams went into the match welcoming back key players after absence. For Freo, Tash Rigby, Perth Glory’s A-League Women captain returned, and for the league leaders, Shivani Battaglia was back in goal with another Perth Glory legend Kim Carroll also restored to the RedStar line-up.
Fremantle opened brightly, taking the game to their unbeaten opponents, with Rigby’s importance to the squad immediately apparent as she looked to dominate the play along the right. Throughout the opening half, the Freo number four was linking up expertly with Jamie-Lee Gale.
Whilst the home side had the best of the opening ten minutes, RedStar were gradually earning more possession and territory. Carlos Vega Mena’s side adopted a high press when Fremantle were in possession, with multiple players getting up quickly to force the home side back when on the ball.
The tactical battle continued with City’s Jessica Darmago popping up on both flanks to dangerous effect, but as the half wore on, it was RedStar who took charge.
With 19 minutes gone, the league leaders went ahead. Jacinta Coleman’s initial attempt at a ball through was cut out but rebounded to Sarah Carroll. Her accurate low pass found Larissa Walsh who hit a shot across Dayle Schroeder in the Fremantle goal for her 15th goal in nine NPL WA matches this season.
Walsh had a chance to double RedStar’s lead just after the half-hour mark as she broke through but saw her shot graze the left-hand post.
Just before the break, there were half-chances for both sides. RedStar were awarded a free-kick 15 yards inside the opposition half. Kim Carroll lofted the ball in, Shawn Bilham had a shot blocked and a follow-up effort went well wide.
For Freo, Darmago won a corner along the right after more excellent wide attacking play. Mikayla Lyons initially hit it short before playing a cross into the mix which was cleared by Perth RedStar, who were good for their 1-0 lead at the break.
Fremantle created the first chance of the second period when Gale broke through the centre and fired in a powerful effort that Battaglia pushed away well for a corner which was eventually cleared.
Kat Jukic came on for the hosts and added a formidable presence, but for the opening quarter-hour of the second period, a lack of a telling final ball was hampering both sides.
Then, with an hour gone, Perth RedStar increased their advantage when Sarah Carroll’s cross in from the right could only be directed into her own net by Janice Kiama. It was unfortunate for the Freo player who put in a good shift all afternoon.
City looked to respond and Gale’s cross was just too high for the onrushing Matilda Boyle to get her head to. Gale was having an influential period and just three minutes later was well involved in her team hitting back.
The former Perth Glory player mounted a superb run along the left which started inside her own half, before cutting in and firing a superb effort which Battaglia did well to push away. The resulting corner was played short and back before a high cross came in from the right which Jukic headed goalwards, Battaglia parried, but Jukic pounced to slot home.
With the deficit reduced to a single goal, Fremantle rallied briefly, but it was Perth RedStar who finished the strongest.
There were five minutes remaining when a great passing interchange from the visitors ended with Grace Monteiro hitting a great long-range effort that came back off of the bar. It was a warning sign, as shortly afterwards, from a Sarah Carroll corner on the right, Shawn Bilham turned on the edge of the box and curled a delightful finish into the net.
There were periods in this match where Fremantle City, who have only lost twice all season, both times to today’s visitors, forced Perth RedStar to think and adjust, but ultimately the clear league leaders had too much.
Teams: FREMANTLE CITY: Schroeder, Longmore, Rigby, Gale, Lyons, Waltman, Darmago, McCulloch, Boyle, Leek, Kiama. Substitutes: Smith, Jukic, Buxey, Nolan.
Scorers: Jukic 72′.
PERTH REDSTAR: Battaglia, S.Carroll, Walsh, Bennett, K.Carroll, Bilham, Wood, Dunn, Teixeira, Monteiro, Coleman. Substitutes: Doan, De Leo, Ridley, Leota, Diederichsen.
Scorers: Walsh 19′, Kiama (OG) 60′, Bilham 86′.
Referee: David Avison.
ROUND 10 WRAP:
Round 10 opened on Friday night with Perth SC returning to winning ways at Curtin University. The Azzurri were 3-0 winners, but the final scoreline does not reflect their dominance in a match which they had 10 shots on target to Curtin’s two and won 14 corners to the hosts’ one.
The visitors were confident in possession and played some excellent one-touch football. It lead to them taking the lead with 21 minutes on the clock as Abbey Meakins played in Jaime Duncanson who confidently rounded Curtin goalkeeper Stacey Cavill and dispatched the ball in the net.
Four minutes into the second half, Perth SC doubled their advantage in fine style when a corner from the right was volleyed brilliantly home by Zoee Spadano. Despite continuing to create numerous opportunities, with Cameron Barreiro and Duncanson particularly threatening, the visitors did not extend their lead until the closing stages.
Spadano fed the ball out from the right to Emma McMurdo who was central just outside the box, and turned to fire the third into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Curtin, on their third head coach of the season, remains winless. Perth SC next face a huge game at home to Fremantle City next Sunday in the battle for second place on the ladder.
Also on Friday night, Hyundai NTC won their second consecutive game on the road with a 2-1 win at Murdoch University Melville. The game opened with a bang with two goals in the opening quarter of an hour.
The youngsters of the NTC had already recorded two corners when they took the lead after five minutes. Turning over possession just inside their own half, Tanika Lala showed great vision to play a ball forward into the path of Abbey Woolley who fired home calmly past Monique Todd in the MUM FC goal.
Murdoch University Melville levelled ten minutes later as the ball came in from the right, NTC failed to clear which allowed Poppie Hooks to take a touch and volley into the net.
Despite both teams having their chances, it was the NTC who took the three points with a goal eight minutes into the second half when Georgia Cassidy confidently dispatched a spot-kick into the bottom right corner of the net.
The round’s remaining game took place on Sunday afternoon with Balcatta Etna hosting Subiaco at Grindleford Reserve. Balcatta went ahead with just two minutes on the clock when Zara Board’s attempted clearance was gobbled up by Monique Godding who squared a pass to Emily Englebert on the edge of the box. This in turn was played on for Monique Prinsloo to fire home.
Balcatta sealed the points with their second goal which came 12 minutes into the second period. A corner on the right was played short and back initially before the high cross into the box was met with a lovely flick header from Elizabeth Doust. After stop start beginning to the campaign due to COVID postponements coupled with a tough set of fixtures in their early games that did go ahead, Balcatta are now putting together a good run of results in their pursuit of the top four.
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Round 11 Fixtures: Murdoch University Melville v Curtin University, Perth SC v Fremantle City, Balcatta Etna v Hyundai NTC, Subiaco v Perth RedStar.