Kieran Yap provides his weekly round-up of all the action from the Victoria 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 (8/6/22).
Above: South Melbourne (blue) battle it out with Alamein at the weekend. Photo: CCP/Alamein FC.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
South Melbourne 1-0 Alamein
After a slow start to the NPLW season, South Melbourne look to be truly back to winning ways. Following last week’s 9-0 defeat of Bayside United, they faced an Alamein team that competed well against league leaders Heidelberg United in Round Nine.
On paper, this was a match-up between two evenly matched sides, and that is what played out on the field at Lakeside Stadium on a freezing cold Saturday night.
South Melbourne began on the front foot. Their attacking strength has been on the flanks in recent weeks with Janna Lawson becoming the dominant winger of the competition.
Alamein defended high. It looked risky, but they dropped behind the ball quickly and trusted goalkeeper Teresa Morrisey’s pace to come off her line and mop up any long balls.
Nia Stamatopoulos almost scored the opener for Alamein. Her corner kick curled in from the right and was on target. Only the slightest touch would have sent it into the goal, but Jenna Farrow was well-positioned to hold onto the dangerous-looking ball.
Alamein created plenty of shots from the edge of the area. They were good chances, but South Melbourne’s defenders lead by Claudia Mihocic and Holly Murray were well-positioned to block. Most shots did not make it through to the goalkeeper.
It was a battle of discipline and nerve for the entirely of a scoreless first half. Lawson and Kat Goff were lively for South Melbourne. Ashleigh Lefevre looked like the most likely avenue to goal on Alamein’s left-wing.
Lawson had the best clear chance of the first half for the home side. She latched onto a long pass and found space behind the Alamein defence. Her shot was on target but Morrisey was equal to it once again.
Kiara Bercelli looked certain to score for the visitors. She wiggled free of South Melbourne’s defence, but her shot flashed wide with the goal and Farrow at her mercy.
The arm-wrestle continued for the second half. But this was an enthralling encounter. The untroubled scoreboard was not due to any lack of quality. Both teams were defending as well as they were attacking. Any error or stroke of luck could have decided this at any point.
Alamein had the better of the second-half chances. Sidney Allen hit the crossbar after the was unmarked in the penalty box. Soon after she burst clear of Murray and found herself goal side with only Lawson to beat.
In one of the more spectacular moments of defending, Claudia Mihocic turned on the afterburners and caught up. She executed a perfectly timed sliding tackle and South Melbourne survived again.
Janna Lawson responded for the home team. She exploded into space on the right and dissected the Alamein defence with a pass into the path of Kat Goff. Her first touch took her wider than she might have hoped. She kept possession but Morrisey held her up and then scrambled back to goal. The danger was averted.
The match opened up in the final 20 minutes. Caitlin Pickett got on the end of a terrific team move and raced clear in on goal. She opened up the angle and shot, but Morrisey miraculously stopped the ball and held onto it. Pickett was left wondering how.
Morrisey had played a terrific game but was forced from the field late after claiming a cross at her own risk. Evelyn Goldsmith entered the field for her in the final minutes.
When the goal did eventually arrive, it was well worth the wait. Impressively, neither side panicked or changed to long balls to win the game or to release defensive pressure. A moment of quality decided a high-quality match.
Goff embarked on another strong run down the right and cut inside. She was held up by the Alamein defenders but got the ball to Francesco Iermano. Janna Lawson arrived on the right side and the ball was shifted to her. Everything seemed to slow down for a moment as Lawson picked her spot.
The shot curled and dipped and nestled into the far corner of the net. It was an injury time winner for South Melbourne and the game that had been on a knife-edge all evening was decided.
The win takes South Melbourne to sixth on the ladder, but just two points outside of the top four. Alamein trail fourth-placed Box Hill United on goal difference.
Teams: SOUTH MELBOURNE: Farrow, Papastanis, Murray, Mihocic, Taranto, Lawson, Iermano, Hronopoulos, Goff (Stringfellow) Sandhu, Pickett.
Scorer: Lawson 90+1′.
ALAMEIN: Morrissey (Goldsmith), Hull, Heysen, Renehan, Leferve, Ayton (Michael), Storay, Vatcky, Stamatopoulos, Bercelli (Nikpour), Allen.
ROUND 10 WRAP:
In other games, there was movement at the top of the table. Heidelberg United have been leapfrogged, with Calder United taking top spot after beating Bulleen Lions FC 1-0. Julia Sardo’s 19th-minute goal was enough to decide the clash of the NPLW titans.
Box Hill United sit in fourth spot after a 1-0 win over Bayside United. Sofia Sakalis struck in the fifth minute to secure the points for the visitors and continue her strong form this season.
In what might be the shock result of the week, FV Emerging defeated Heidelberg United in a 3-2 goal-fest. Heidelberg took an expected lead through Danielle Wise and Tijan Mckenna to go into half-time 2-0 up. Rose Curtis pulled one back for FV Emerging before Candice Kilderry levelled the scores in the 67th minute. A draw would have been surprising enough, but Kilderry had more in mind and a 93rd-minute winner meant that Senior NTC had their third victory for the season.