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 (27/6/22).
Above: Fremantle City’s Kat Jukic (centre) who was hugely influential for her team in Sunday’s game against Balcatta Etna. Photo: FotoEnzo.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Balcatta Etna 1-2 Fremantle City
A looping cross-shot from Tash Rigby was ultimately the difference between the two sides in a dramatic and entertaining game on Sunday afternoon.
This was the second meeting between the two sides in four days after they played their rearranged Round Six clash in midweek. Balcatta came from behind to record a 2-1 win on that occasion to seal their fifth straight league win and meant that if they could repeat the success, they would go second in the ladder.
Both teams produced a hugely enjoyable high tempo and skilful encounter in the Grindleford Reserve sunshine. The opening quarter saw Freo have the edge in terms of possession and chances, but the hosts had the dangerous Monique Prinsloo, who was combining ominously with Monique Godding on occasions to suggest that once Balcatta were able to put together a consistent period of pressure, they were capable of giving as good as they got.
Much of the visitors’ successes were down to the pace and guile of Jessica Darmago on the left, the physical presence and experience of Kat Jukic who drifted across the centre and towards the right, along with the work rate and quick thinking of Tash Rigby on the right who played in a number of deliciously pacey crosses throughout.
Despite missing the influential pairing of captain Mikayla Lyons and Siobhan Longmore, Fremantle were solid at the back and dangerous going forward. They won back-to-back corners, before using their rapid-fire passing game to cut through once more. Darmago escaped from Tahlia D’Opera on the left and cut across to find Kayla McCulloch who in turn linked with Matilda Boyle. Rigby was then played in on the right to play in a cross for Jukic to hit a first time volley wide.
With fifteen minutes on the clock, the creativity of the visitors combined once more. From a Balcatta throw parallel with their own 18-yard box, the ball went straight to Jukic. The former Perth Glory W-League player was tightly marked by two, but showed great skill to escape and cut in towards the edge of the box where she laid off to Jamie-Lee Gale who advanced into the area and hit a low shot across home goalkeeper Gabby Dal Busco and into the net.
From the re-start, Fremantle almost doubled their advantage. Darmago skipped along the left and pulled the ball across for Rigby towards the back post who crashed a shot first time against the bar.
Yet, Balcatta are made of stern stuff, and they came back from this adversity to put together their longest spell of consistent pressure in the first half. Prinsloo hit a long ranger just wide of the far post before Tahlia D’Opera rifled in an effort from outside the box which needed to be pushed over by Dayle Schroeder in the Fremantle goal.
From the resulting corner, as the ball was ricocheting around in the box, it was handled by a visiting defender, and referee Stephen Knight pointed to the spot. Up stepped Godding to dispatch the penalty for her second goal in a week, and Balcatta were level.
After an initial bout of arm-wrestle football after the equaliser, it was Freo who had the slight edge before the break. McCulloch’s influence on the ball was growing. She was comfortable in possession and in one such move found Annabelle Leek to commence another rapid passing exchange from the visitors, the ball was played into Jukic and moved on to Gale whose effort was forced into the side netting after Dal Busco cleverly advanced to narrow the angle.
Matilda Boyle was forced off the pitch due to injury for the visitors before the break to be replaced by Coral Buxey. During the interval, Balcatta brought on Mia Yeo, and it didn’t take long for the teenage left-sided player to show her worth as the second half opened with a bang.
Monique D’Opera showed great vision to switch the play from the centre out to Yeo on the left. Fremantle gave the Balcatta youngster too much space – something she thrives on – and Yeo advanced up the wing and played in a cross for Prinsloo who hit a shot that was handled by Laura Waltman, and Balcatta were awarded their second penalty of the match.
Laura Continibali placed the ball on the spot this time, and Freo keeper Dayle Schroeder repelled the shot to the left of centre – however, the visitors celebrations were cut short as referee Stephen Knight ordered a re-take. Continibali v Schroeder take two sensationally went the same way as the original as Schroeder saved with her legs.
Buoyed by this incredible turn of events, the visitors immediately went on the offensive and Rigby hit another long ranger which was pushed away from the top corner by Dal Busco.
Back came Balcatta, and Continibali beat Natarsha Smith on the right, to play in a tempter towards the back post for an unmarked Yeo, but the teenager sidefooted wide. Shortly afterwards, injury claimed Yeo and Carys Davis came onto the left.
Into the final ten minutes, Freo grew once more. They had a penalty shout waved away claiming Aaliyah Jorquera handled the box, but Stephen Knight wasn’t moved. The visitors continued to push. With six minutes remaining, Jukic, on the left turned her way out of a cul-de-sac once more despite the close attentions of Balcatta markers and laid a pass inside for McCulloch who in turn found Rigby outside her on the right. The Perth Glory A-League Women captain advanced before looping a cross-shot which left Dal Busco grasping as it sailed into the net.
Despite Balcatta’s best efforts in the remainder of the game, it was Fremantle who ran out winners to strengthen their position in the top two.
Teams: BALCATTA ETNA: Dal Busco, M.D’Opera, T.D’Opera, Seerden, Godding, Jorquera, Prinsloo, Doust, Continibali, Veroni, Alberts. Substitutes: Davis, Cawley, Yeo, Englebert.
Scorers: Godding (pen) 26′
FREMANTLE CITY: Schroeder, Smith, Rigby, Gale, Waltman, Darmago, McCulloch, Boyle, Leek, Jukic, Kiama. Substitutes: Buxey, Siah, Nolan, Carta.
Scorers: Gale 15′, Rigby 84′.
Referee: Stephen Knight.
Round 13 Wrap:
This weekend’s action began on Friday night as Hyundai NTC hosted bottom-of-the-table Curtin University at E&D Litis Stadium.
The home side went ahead with just eight minutes on the clock as they profited from a move along the left which saw the ball played in low. Curtin had several opportunities to clear, but failed each time, allowing Ischia Brooking to comfortably side-foot home the opener.
Five minutes later it was 2-0. Grace Johnston put in a high cross from the right which caused chaos in the Curtin defence and it was easily nodded back across goal for Anna Powell to chest the ball across the line. With 18 on the clock, a corner from the right was prodded on by Louise Tana for Powell to smash home from inside the six-yard box for the first in a spell of three goals in four minutes.
The second in that period came when Curtin lost possession from goalkeeper Stacey Cavill’s short pass out of the box to Tana who fed Tanika Lala outside her. Lala advanced and was able to place a shot into the far corner. It was 5-0 after a similar catastrophic loss of possession at the back. Cavill’s short ball was returned back towards the area and the second attempted clearance only found Lala just inside the box to the left. The young star took a touch and unleashed a rocket into the top right-hand corner of the net.
The flow of goals was stemmed until just after the hour mark. Tana showed great pace to get away along the right and play in a cross that looped up high. Lala went in with Curtin keeper Cavell who initially repelled the danger only for her work to be undone as the ball rebounded off of Powell and in, for her hat-trick. The final goal in NTC’s 7-0 success came from the penalty spot with Lala stepping up to complete her hat-trick.
Unbeaten league leaders Perth RedStar maintained their 13-point lead at the top of the ladder with a 2-0 win at Murdoch University Melville on Saturday. But they needed two late goals in order to keep up their 100% start to the season.
They went ahead thanks to Renee Leota goal. The outcome at BeSteam Stadium was finally settled when Olivia Wood forced home from close range at the right hand post.
The round’s remaining scheduled game between Subiaco and Perth SC was postponed.
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Round 14 Fixtures: Curtin University v Subiaco, Perth RedStar v Balcatta Etna, Perth SC v Murdoch University Melville, Fremantle City v Hyundai NTC.