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 (4/7/22).
Above: Fremantle City get a shot in on goal in dramatic action at home to Hyundai NTC on Sunday. Photo: Denyse McCulloch.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Curtin University 1-2 Subiaco
Curtin’s winless start to the campaign continued as they lost the battle of the bottom two to ever-improving Subiaco at Edinburgh Oval on Friday night.
Subiaco’s growth since entering the NPLW has seen progress each season, and now in this, their third campaign, they went into this clash with a win and a draw to their name, and also won some plaudits for digging in well against unbeaten league leaders Perth RedStar at Rosalie Park recently.
Curtin came into the game on a run of 11 league defeats from their 12 games so far. Their single point came from the incredible 4-4 draw between the two sides earlier this season.
Therefore this match was huge in the context of both sides’ seasons. Curtin knew a first three points would be a massive boost in their aims to avoid the wooden spoon. For Subi, it would mean renewed hope of breaking into the top six this season in addition to pushing them towards breaking their club record for most NPLW wins across a season.
The earliest of exchanges promised an open encounter. Curtin’s most consistently threatening players this campaign, Dakota Van-Vugt and Taylor Reid were at the heart of their side’s best opportunities. Van-Vugt remained alert to opportunities through the middle with Reid having the potential to use quick feet and skill to burst through tight gaps.
For Subiaco, Emma Ylias on the left, Ruby Walsh, and Phoenix Brownlie showed their worth in creating the visitors’ opening opportunities. With 11 minutes played, Walsh combined with Ylias who hit an effort just wide. Shortly afterwards, Brownlie found Lizzie Wallwork whose effort was parried by Gabrielle Maluga in the Curtin goal.
Just two minutes later though, it was heart in the mouth time for Subiaco as a back pass angled in from the left was pounced on by Van-Vugt, but her shot went well wide of the far post.
Despite Subiaco having the better of the possession and territory count, they couldn’t turn these stats into consistent shots on target. Curtin exacted the ultimate punishment for this with 20 minutes on the clock.
Reid showed her true qualities by dancing through three Subi defenders and getting out of a tight spot to get a shot away which was blocked, but in the wash-up, the ball fell to Samara Riches who hit a low shot that squirmed under the diving Zara Board and in.
Ylias showed great touch, vision, and, creative awareness, supported by Frankie Murray, but Subiaco were unable to take advantage of two chances that came and went. First, Toni Walden’s lofted free-kick was let go of by Maluga and caused momentary panic in the six-yard box, but the danger was cleared. Then Brownlie hit a low shot from the edge of the box that Maluga repelled well at the near post with her legs. It was Curtin who went in at the break a goal to the good.
Subiaco continued with the momentum in the early period of the second half as Walsh fed Murray on the right-wing to play in a dangerous ball into the near post which was dealt with. Murray was involved again almost immediately on the same flank where she advanced and hit a shot narrowly over the top.
Curtin then gathered their most consistent period of sustained pressure all night. Riches gained possession on the left and found Van-Vugt in the box who chested down, but Walsh was able to intervene and clear for the visitors. The hosts conjured up a series of half-chances, but their lack of a razor-sharp finisher meant that they were unable to get shots on target.
Buoyed by this, Subiaco upped the ante and forced Curtin into conceding two free-kicks in quick succession in central areas. From the second, Walden looped in a perfectly judged tempter which bounced near the six-yard box in a position that made it impossible for Maluga to judge whether or not to come and take the ball. Subi’s midfield runners were only just unable to reach the scene in time to pounce.
The visitors’ increasing domination of possession was aided by consistent outstanding distribution by goalkeeper Zara Board, a Junior Matildas squad member, who was able find teammates inside the Curtin half with perfectly weighted passes. As the domination continued, Subiaco won a series of corners.
The first from the right saw Walden’s flag-kick miss going in at the far post by the narrowest possible of margins. Following up within two minutes of the other side, a perfectly judged high ball came into the near post and caused chaos in the Curtin defence, who failed to deal with it, allowing Ashlee Byrne to get a touch to level matters with 20 minutes remaining.
It was all Subiaco and, with Curtin’s creative period a distant memory, there was only going to be one winner. The decisive moment came with four minutes left, and it was a goal of real creative quality.
Murray gathered possession and cut into the centre to advance through. Substitute Ingrid Gomez Basallo found space between two Curtin defenders and took advantage of a beautifully weighted low through ball to smash home the winner.
Subiaco continued to maintain their work rate and threaten. Deep into stoppage time, Walden fired in a free-kick from just outside of the box to the left of centre that bounced in front of Maluga, who was unable to get a decisive touch to it, allowing Byrne to run in and smash home, only to be adjudged to have done so from an offside position. It ended 2-1 to the visitors.
Curtin’s second-half fade-out will be a concern, as are their U21 team’s similar pattern of results this season – but ultimately it will come down to how the group responds to the challenges and look to rebuild. However, ultimately the headlines need to go to the visitors.
This win means that Subiaco have equalled both their most wins for a season since joining the competition and their highest points tally for a season. Both landmarks have been achieved with nine matches still to play this campaign.
Teams: CURTIN UNIVERSITY: Maluga, Brown, Waycott, Waller, Varatharaja, Van-Vugt, Reid, Hazledon, Suckling, Riches, Downing. Substitutes: Cavill (GK), Fagan, McLernon, Sadiqi, Slater-Gauci.
Scorers: Riches 20′.
SUBIACO: Board, Winchcombe, Paul, Walden, Whooley, Burgis, Ylias, Wallwork, Brownlie, Walsh, Murray. Substitutes: Byrne, Narra, Fyneman, Harding, Leyland, Gomez-Basallo, Pidgeon.
Scorers: Byrne 69′, Gomez Basallo 86′.
Referee: Liviu Katona
Round 14 Wrap:
Perth RedStar‘s seemingly unstoppable march continued on Saturday with a 4-0 win over a Balcatta Etna side who went into the game in good form over the past six weeks.
Indeed, this was arguably a clash of the competition’s two in-form sides, and the visitors forced two corners in the opening three minutes, but as always against RedStar, when even half-chances come your way, they have to be taken. Balcatta couldn’t turn these early territorial grabs into a goal.
Just four minutes later, RedStar went in front. A move involving some intricately constructed passing triangles looking for space was finally rewarded along the right and a cross came in for Sarah Carroll to loop the ball over Gabby Dal Busco in the Balcatta goal and in.
It was 2-0 just before the 20-minute mark. From a throw-in on the left, possession was worked to Larissa Walsh who squared a pass for Shawn Billam. Billam’s shot was spectacularly saved by Dal Busco, but Walsh was in the right place at the right time to slot home the rebound at the near post.
Balcatta responded well, forcing corners and shots on target in quick succession, but were unable to get onto the scoresheet as it remained 2-0 at the break.
Matters were ultimately settled six minutes into the second half when Sarah Carroll stepped up to confidently dispatch a penalty. The Perth Glory A-League Women player completed her hat-trick four minutes into stoppage time when she received possession from a free-kick deep inside the RedStar half. Carroll advanced towards the Balcatta box and dispatched the ball home to compete the scoring. Results elsewhere this weekend where the chasing pack all failed to win mean that Perth RedStar are now a staggering 15 points clear at the top of the table.
Perth SC saw their hopes of taking a commanding grip on second place suffer a setback when they were beaten 1-0 by Murdoch University Melville at Dorrien Gardens on Sunday.
Whilst Murdoch have a very different squad to last season’s one, when they click, they are capable of pulling off impressive results. They went ahead after nine minutes when a backheel from Nikita Strickling found Sophia Neal who put in a high first-time cross into the box for Andrea Preiato to head goalwards, with the ball looking like coming off of Perth SC goalkeeper Rebecca Bennett before crossing the line.
Perth SC tried to hit back, with five shots on target to MUM FC’s one before the break. The Azzurri applied more pressure in the second half. With just over 15 minutes to go, they thought they had finally made it pay as Maya Spatafore’s high ball in was forced home by Abbey Meakins, but the offside flag was raised.
The home side massed 17 shots on target all afternoon to Murdoch’s six, but it was the visitors who took all three points. It was one of those days for the Azzurri.
The final game of the round took place at Hilton Park as Fremantle City hosted the ever-dangerous Hyundai NTC side. Freo fielded new signing Ellie Dick from South Hobart, who is back in the game after several years of injury. Despite both sides making chances, it was goalless at the break.
However, the teenagers came out firing at the start of the second 45 and went ahead from the kick-off. Louise Tana won possession on the edge of the Fremantle box and hit a shot that Dayle Schroeder did well to push away in the home goal, only for the ball to fall for Olivia Trueman to volley home at the far post.
Freo levelled with just under 15 minutes remaining as Maja Archibald was released through the centre. Archibald advanced and calmly slotted under NTC keeper Lilly Bailey to secure a point.
|Murdoch University Melville||13||4||3||6||13||16||15||-3|
ROUND 15 FIXTURES: Murdoch University Melville v Subiaco, Perth SC v Balcatta Etna, Fremantle City v Curtin University, Perth RedStar v Hyundai NTC.