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 (22/6/22).
Above: Eyes on the ball – Alamein (red) host Bulleen Lions. Photo: Alamein FC.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Jackson’s Back But Jancevski Does The Damage
Alamein 0-3 Bulleen Lions
Fourth-placed Alamein hosted Bulleen Lions in third for this Round 12 encounter of Victoria’s NPLW.
Both sides had enjoyed a hard-fought win the previous week, Bulleen Lions scraped past bottom side Bayside United, while Alamein came away from a Friday night fixture with a 2-1 win away to Box Hill.
To face Bulleen Lions, Alamein welcomed back one of their star recruits into the starting lineup. Amy Jackson had endured and flourished in one of the most testing seasons of her A-League Women’s career.
Ultimately she was one of the stars of the Grand Final win, but that gruelling campaign meant a delayed start to her NPLW season. She was in Kat Smith’s first XI after making a substitute appearance last round. Her return was welcomed by her loyal fans on the sidelines as much as her teammates.
The Melbourne Victory legend would partner Caitlin Storay in a formidable-looking central pairing.
Bulleen were boosted by the return of star midfielder Paige Zois. Her creativity and knack for creating space was missing against Bayside. Rebekah Stott was still absent through injury, but Cailtin Friend was able to name a strong squad that featured two of last week’s scorers, Alana Jancevski and Lia Privitelli.
Bulleen began the game on the attack. The turf and weather made quick passing difficult, and the direct approaches were cut off by Catherine Renehan for Alamein.
The home side attempted to catch Bulleen’s defence out on the break, but Kiara Bercelli was offside.
The battle between two strong midfields was fairly even. Neither side could find much space or time in the centre of the pitch, but with Jancevski’s firepower and Privitelli’s pace up front, Bulleen looked more threatening.
Privitelli was in sparkling touch early. A nutmeg of a defender on the left resulted in a blocked shot, but a warning of what she is capable of. Rosie Rodger’s clever through pass put Privitelli in space, but her shot flew wide with the keeper scrambling to get into position.
Rodger’s starting role was well earned after a great contribution off the bench against Bayside United. It was her second brilliant pass in as many weeks.
Privitelli and Jancevski linked up for the opening goal. A long ball forward bypassed the midfield battleground and fell to Privitelli who controlled it and played it back to Jancevski.
The first time shot from long range was spectacular, yet amazingly expected. Jancevski has the technique to turn a half-chance in the mud into a beautiful curling goal. The only shame is that the NPL grounds do not yet have the facilities for behind-the-goal replays.
Alamein tried to hit back when Sidney Allen found Elaina Vatcky, but again the linesman’s flag was up and Bulleen were untroubled.
Jancevski had her second goal after an hour had been played. It will go down as an error by Alamein’s defence, but the finish was emphatic. Jancevski stalked a short goal kick and intercepted a pass-out. An extra touch took her closer to goal and opened up the angle before she rifled the ball into the net to make it 2-0.
In the end, the 3-0 score was harsh on Alamein. The third goal only came deep into injury time. Tiffany Eliadis’s long pass into the path of Privitelli set the captain in on goal. Her well-taken finish in the 93rd minute secured the points and could prove crucial in a top-four that may be decided by goal difference.
Bulleen were more clinical and unforgiving with their chances on goal. The closest that Alamein came to scoring in the second half was through Adelyn Ayton’s dangerous-looking long-range shot.
They will be disappointed with the second and third goals, but there was no denying the quality of the first. Jancevski now has three goals in her last two matches. She is hitting form for the second half of the season and is hopefully in the frame for a Young Matildas call-up. Few players can hit a ball as well.
In a welcome surprise, Bulleen Lions welcomed back goalkeeper Gaby Garton as a second-half substitute. It was her first game of senior football since her child was born. The A-League Women’s Championship winner was solid in the second half without being really tested, but it was great to see her back.
Teams: ALAMEIN: Bean, Renehan, Heysen, Lantieri-Bartley, Leferve, Storay, Jackson (Ayton), Vatcky (Michael), Stamatopoulos (Nikpour), Bercelli (Hull), Allen (Perrone).
BULLEEN LIONS: Sheilds (Garton), Dolzan, Natoli, Johnson, Vlajnic, Burn, Zois, Jancevski, Little, Rodger (Eliadis), Privitelli.
Scorers: Jancevski 25’, 63’. Privitelli 90+3’.
Round 12 Wrap:
In other results, Calder United put seven goals past Bayside United. Braces for Ava Groba, Aleksandra Sinclair, and Raquel Derales added to an own goal to emphasise Mark Torcaso’s team’s title credentials. Each of those players scored once in the first half and once in the second in a strong response to Julia Budiongo’s seventh-minute opener.
FV Emerging won at home to Box Hill United thanks to a 70th-minute goal by Ellie Vlaeminck. The result meant that the young NTC side moves up to fourth place at Alamein’s expense.
Heidelberg United held onto second spot on the ladder with a 3-1 win over South Melbourne. After a resurgence, South Melbourne have now lost their last two games, and in a league where every goal counts, they have dropped back to seventh on the table.
Stephanie Galea’s first-half goal was met by Bella Stringfellow’s equaliser for South Melbourne. Danielle Wise’s brace helped Heidelberg to their first win in three games after close losses to Calder United and FV Emerging.
Calder United are now five points clear at the top of the table and seven ahead of third-placed Bulleen. That lead looks set to be extended with matches against Bayside United and Alamein in the weeks ahead, but this season has been full of surprises and no managers would be taking anything for granted.