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 (13/7/22).
Above: Caitlin Pickett, part of the South Melbourne side that earned a superb win over Bulleen Lions at the weekend. Photo: Gold Leaf Creative.
MAIN REPORT OF THE WEEK:
South Melbourne 3-0 Bulleen Lions
It has been a hectic week in Victorian women’s football, particularly for South Melbourne FC. Last week at home, they were beaten 4-2 by Box Hill United, despite taking an early lead. They responded with a win for the ages midweek.
A semi-final win over Heidelberg United in the Nike FC Cup would be worth celebrating under any circumstances. But a 3-2 win after being two goals down is worth commemorating. It was an incredible fight back, especially after they seemed to struggle to recover from Box Hill scoring just days earlier.
A spot in the NPLW Victoria Finals are looking unlikely for South Melbourne, but they are not a side to be taken lightly. They still have quality all over the pitch. Consistency has been their issue, but on their day they can beat anybody. Saturday was their day.
Bulleen Lions FC were the visitors, and the third-place side were packed with stars. Lia Privitelli and Alana Jancevski started up front. Tyla Jay Vlajnic was in defence and even without Paige Zois and Rebekah Stott, they still have one of the most impressive squads in the league.
Headlining the names on the team sheet was Gabby Garton. The Melbourne Victory Grand Final star of 2020/21 was making her first start for the club since her return to the field. Even after the momentous win over Heidelberg United, this was not a game many were backing South to win, even at near full strength.
Bulleen had the best of the early chances. Although they were made to earn them and Jenna Farrow had no trouble saving. Alana Burn tried to beat the goalkeeper from long range with a lofted effort, then Privitelli collected well and shot on the turn, but Farrow was positioned well enough for a comfortable stop.
Although Bulleen had plenty of possession, the South Melbourne defence marshalled and patrolled with authority by Claudia Mihocic was largely untroubled.
Georgia Kandilas combined with Janna Lawson created the first goal of the afternoon. Kandilas slid in to tackle as Bulleen attemped to play the ball out. Lawson latched onto the loose ball and carried it forward on the right side of the 18-yard box. Her shot was struck with very little back lift and at full pace, it was always coming, but still felt surprising. She took no time to steady and gave the Bulleen defenders no time to block it. The ball flew into the top corner and it was 1-0 to the home side.
South Melbourne doubled the lead before halftime. Francesca Iermano won the ball with another tackle in the final third. She held off one defender, then cut inside the next. The winger got as close to Garton’s goal as she could before finishing calmly on her left foot.
One goal was all power, the other came at the end of a mazy run. But both were created by forward pressure and well-timed tackles by the South Melbourne attack.
Bulleen struggled to respond. The second half saw them have plenty of the ball but lacked clear-cut chances.
Grace Taranto was dominant in a deep role. Her tackle, run, and long pass almost set up another goal. It was a direct move but done with precision and it was unlucky that nobody could get on the end of Iermano’s eventual cross.
Taranto tried again from long range, once more after winning the ball herself. Garton caught it easily, but South Melbourne were high in confidence on an individual and team level.
The third and final goal came from a long ball from defence. Kandilas’ hard work all game paid off when she ran onto the pass, turned inside the last defender and finished under Garton to cap off another big win for South Melbourne.
For Bulleen, a win next week will be essential. They still have a game in hand, but have lost their last two. They will face Box Hill United who are hunting fourth spot and can score easily. South Melbourne will look to continue their second resurgence against bottom-placed Bayside United.
Teams: SOUTH MELBOURNE: Farrow, Houndalas (Keppens 87′), Kandilas (Carman 80′), Tolios (Stringfellow 80′), Iermano, Taranto, Lawson, Pickett, Sandhu, Mihocic, Murray.
Scorers: Lawson 30’, Iermano 40’, Kandilas 57’.
BULLEEN LIONS: Garton, Natoli, Burn, Privitelli (Govic 78), Little, Johnson (Tavere 78), O’Bryan (Vass 58), Vlajnic, Roger (Griss), Dolzan, Jancevski
Referee: Warwick Berner.
Round 15 Wrap:
With Box Hill and Calder United’s game postponed, there was only two more matches in Round 15. Heidelberg United defeated Bayside United 2-0 with goals from Danielle Wise and Stephanie Galea.
Alamein beat FV Emerging 4-1 thanks to two goals from Kat Nikpour, one from Nia Stamatopoulos and another struck in after a goal mouth scramble. Candice Kilderry pulled one back for FV Emerging.
The results mean that the top two spots are looking increasingly locked in. Only unfortunate delays can prevent Calder United from continuing their undefeated streak. Alamein started the season strongly and since adding Amy Jackson to the midfield, they have looked even better. Bulleen once looked imperious, but now their position looks tenuous. They are missing some extremely good players, but still will be expecting to win at home in the next round.