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 (11/7/22).
Above: Abbey Meakins’ superb volley seals the three points for Perth SC in the Italian derby against Balcatta Etna on Saturday. Photo: Rob Lizzi.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
Perth SC 1-0 Balcatta Etna
Perth SC gained a hugely important victory over a top four rival in very wet conditions at Dorrien Gardens on Saturday.
It was a big day for both sides with the clubs’ men’s and women’s teams taking each other on in back-to-back Italian derby NPL action on a pitch that got increasingly heavier as the action wore on.
There was very little time for the traditional arm-wrestle of a start as within four minutes Perth SC went ahead. Nadia Harvey started the move with a throw-in on the left, deep in the Balcatta box. Possession was spread across to the opposite wing where a cross was played in towards The Azzurri‘s Abbey Meakins who hit a superb first-time hooked volley over her shoulder and into the net.
Meakins has been in great form this season, and really benefiting from Perth SC’s switch to a passing based style of play. This tactic was ensuring that the home side stayed on top in the opening 20 minutes as their passing game managed to be both patient and expansive, looking to spread the play from flank to flank as well as penetrate centrally.
Another similar move was constructed with 11 minutes played and ended with Emma McMurdo letting fly just outside the box with a shot that went narrowly wide of the right-hand post. Meakins was causing mischief in the box again as the half wore on, getting up to challenge Balcatta Etna keeper Gabby Dal Busco at the near post from a high cross.
The visitors are not a team to be forced permanently on the defensive though, such is the potential for creativity within their side. Aaliyah Jorquera, Monique Godding, Monique Prinsloo, and Lauren Continibali, to name but four of Balcatta’s talented line-up, are always going to cause problems.
Balcatta looked to retain possession as the half wore on to reduce the sting of the Azzurri‘s attack and build moves of their own, but Perth SC defended strongly and put in some superb well-timed tackles to reduce the visitors’ threat throughout the opening 45 minutes.
Whilst there were no further additions to the scoresheet before the break, the match, which was becoming a fascinating tactical battle, was not without opportunities. Dal Busco, arguably the best goalkeeper in the competition this season, was called into action on two occasions to deny the hosts.
Just past the half-hour mark, the shot-stopper got down brilliantly at her near post to hold a long-range shot as the rain sluiced down. Then, within touching distance of the break, Meakins curled in a low free-kick from the central area outside the box which Dal Busco gathered near the right hand upright.
The second half opened with Perth SC gaining possession, drawing the opposition, and moving the ball on. They were patient, probing, and constantly looking to advance. All that was missing for The Azzurri was the final ball and the ability to get past Dal Busco.
Jaime Duncanson was hardworking and always alert to create for the hosts. Whether it be an inch-perfect long-range curled past from one flank towards another, or intelligent running, the Perth SC star was excellent.
Cass Harvey increased in stature for the visitors, using a combination of skill and a good football brain to attack whilst constantly looking to bring her teammates into the game.
Just after the hour mark another superb move involving some excellent vision from Duncanson with a perfectly weighted pass ended with the ball rebounding back off the bar.
For Balcatta, a free-kick floated into the box from just inside the Perth half led to Harvey angling a shot towards goal, but it didn’t have the power to worry Rebecca Bennett in the Azzurri goal. Similarly a chance for Alanah Veroni which Bennett was able to push aside for a corner that was cleared as far as Harvey who hit an effort wide.
In the end, there were no further goals as the final whistle went amidst the heaviest rain of the encounter.
This was a vital win for Perth SC against a fellow top four side. But, for Balcatta, a combination of a second successive defeat to a top four rival and Murdoch University Melville’s form immediately below them means their post-season hopes are once more in the balance. There is no doubt that Balcatta have the talent to make it, but battle is really joined now with three clubs all seriously pushing for fourth place.
The clash between Balcatta Etna and Murdoch University Melville at Grindleford Reserve next weekend is now a huge encounter in both team’s quests for a top four spot.
Teams: PERTH SC: Bennett, Harvey, van Heurck, Spadano, Cook, Meakins, McMurdo, Gibbons, Spatafore, Duncanson. Substitutes: Phillips, Lincoln, Papalia, Byrne.
Scorers: Meakins 4′.
BALCATTA ETNA: Dal Busco, M.D’Opera, Harvey, Godding, Davis, Jorquera, Prinsloo, Doust, Continibali, Veroni, Nossent. Substitutes: T.D’Opera, Seerden, Cawley, Alberts.
Referee: Arvin Shanmuganathan.
Round 15 Wrap:
Three days of Round 15 action got underway on Friday night with two matches. At Wauhop Park, there was huge drama in the match between second-placed Fremantle City and winless bottom club Curtin University.
With just eight minutes on the clock, the visiting Curtin side went ahead as Danielle Suckling pounced on loose Freo control in the midfield and threaded a lovely pass through between two defenders for Dakota Van-Vugt to take a touch and slot across Fremantle goalkeeper Dayle Schroeder and into the far corner of the net.
The home side rallied and, indeed had the ball in the net with 23 minutes played as Tash Rigby’s angled pass from the right-wing found Jamie-Lee Gale who crossed in, and the ball looped into the net from a deflected shot, but the effort was ruled out by referee Stewart Beattie.
They had better luck nine minutes later as Gale got free along the right and cut into the box to the near post here she picked out Mikayla Lyons with a low pass which she tucked into the net to level the scores.
Yet, the competition’s cellar dwellers responded brilliantly and re-established their lead within seven minutes. Samara Riches won possession on the right and played a pacy low cross in which alluded players at the near post, but unmarked behind was the excellent Taylor Reid who smashed home a first-time shot.
Despite Freo pushing hard in the second half as the game moved into stoppage time, the visitors were still ahead and within touching distance of their first win of the campaign. Yet, there was a heartbreaking late twist for Curtin. Laura Waltman gained possession on the left flank and crossed in. The defence were unable to clear and it fell perfectly for Lyons who took a touch that lifted the ball higher before volleying it into the far corner to equalise.
The other game on Friday night saw Murdoch University Melville (MUM FC) renew hopes of a place in the top four after a 2-0 win over Subiaco at Besteam Stadium. The defending champions went ahead 11 minutes in as a corner came in from the left and bobbled around in the box before falling for Poppie Hooks to volley home into the far corner.
Subiaco hit back well, hitting seven shots on target and earning several corners before the break, but they were unable to turn this into a goal.
The visitors were made to pay shortly after the hour mark as MUM FC sealed the points. Sophia Neal played the ball in high from the right and Andrea Preiato nodded in at the back post.
Murdoch University Melville conjured up several chances to add to their tally in the final 10 minutes, but the scoreline remained 2-0.
The final game of the round saw a high-quality and skillful encounter between unbeaten league leaders Perth RedStar and the talented Hyundai NTC youngsters at RedStar Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Kim Carroll gave the home side the lead with 10 minutes on the clock when her free-kick, out on the left, parallel with the penalty area flew straight in to the net from an acute angle. Whether the 54-cap Matilda meant to score is debatable, but regardless it was a fine effort.
With confidence coursing through their veins, RedStar pushed forward looking to increase their tally, but the NTC were well organised and able to thwart. Indeed it was the teenage side who were to score next.
The ever-dangerous Tanika Lala gained possession on the left and fired in a cross that came off the arm of Andreia Teixeira and referee Niall Gillmor had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Georgia Cassidy stepped up to fire home the equaliser.
However, scores were only level for four minutes as RedStar halted an NTC attack with a superbly timed tackle. Possession worked its way up the right-wing to Larissa Walsh who squared a low pass for Olivia Wood to hit a first-time effort to score at the near post.
RedStar had the better of the second period, earning ten shots on target and five corners, however into the last eight minutes, they still held just a single goal lead. Things then changed rapidly as NTC goalscorer Georgia Cassidy received a second yellow card, and within four minutes, the home side scored a match-settling third.
Renee Leota released Walsh who advanced with pace through the centre to be met by onrushing NTC goalkeeper Lilly Bailey. Walsh had Jayna Ridley outside her who was never going to miss the empty net. It’s now a 17-point lead for Perth RedStar at the top of the table.
|Murdoch University Melville||14||5||3||6||15||16||18||-1|
Round 16 Fixtures: Hyundai NTC v Perth SC, Balcatta Etna v Murdoch University Melville, Subiaco v Fremantle City, Curtin University v Perth RedStar.