Perth RedStar 3-0 Hyundai NTC
By Ben Gilby
Above: Perth RedStar lift the NPLW WA Top Four Cup after their win over Hyundai NTC yesterday. Photo: Football West/Foto Enzo.
Perth RedStar completed their perfect season with a 3-0 win over Hyundai NTC in the NPLW WA Top Four Cup Final at Perth SC’s Dorrien Gardens.
RedStar’s comfortable victory saw them end the campaign with all four of the trophies available in NPLW WA football – the pre-season Night Series, the State Cup, the NPLW WA Championship, and the Top Four Cup – in their trophy cabinet.
If this is not impressive enough, it comes with the added achievement of an unbeaten campaign, with only Perth SC (twice) and Balcatta Etna earning draws against the undisputed champions.
They came into this Final on the back of a free week to prepare having taken the direct route into the season decider thanks to winning the major semi-final against Perth SC.
Conversely, Hyundai NTC had a major physical exertion in midweek, with their preliminary final against Perth SC going all the way to extra-time, before being settled by Tanika Lala’s 92nd-minute goal. They would also be without Junior Matilda Georgia Cassidy, who was suspended after being shown a yellow card in both her team’s Top Four Cup games.
It was always going to be vital for the talented teenagers of the NTC to start calmly. However, any hopes of keeping things tight disappeared after just five minutes. A free-kick to the right of their penalty area saw Olivia Wood benefit from a loose NTC pass. She instantly found Shawn Billam who laid off quickly to Sarah Carroll on the edge of the box. The Perth Glory A-League Women star angled a perfect ball into the feet of the oncoming Larissa Walsh on the right of the area, and the NPLW WA’s top scorer finished confidently into the right-hand corner of the net.
Buoyed by their perfect start, RedStar looked to push forward. Walsh played a ball in from the right for Sarah Carroll which fell somewhat awkwardly for her, but she still managed to get a shot away that went narrowly wide of NTC keeper Lilly Bailey’s goal.
The consequences of this concession were stark. In their current guise of Perth RedStar, the club have never gone behind, and had conceded just nine goals in the NPLW WA all season. Add in the additional fact that under the RedStar banner, Carlos Vega Mena’s team have never lost a match, the scale of the task in front of Hyundai NTC was huge.
NTC needed to dig in and simply keep their backline intact. They were able to conjure up occasional opportunities. With 17 minutes on the clock, their hugely talented attacker Tanika Lala broke through the midfield, showing pace and excellent footwork before unleashing a powerful shot from the edge of the box that Maya Diederichsen got behind well in order to deny the hotshot from the Goldfields.
With 25 minutes played, a visibly distressed Walsh had to depart from the pitch, clearly not moving freely. Jayna Ridley came on in her place.
Just moments later, another of NTC’s most talented young stars, Grace Johnston showed exactly what she can do. Taking possession with her back to goal, some 40 yards out, Johnston took two touches on the turn and unleashed an absolute rocket that missed the target by just centimetres at the right handpost.
NTC let a golden opportunity slip by just after the half-hour mark as Louise Tana made ground up along the right and hit a ball in towards Lala at the near post. The attacker dug out a shot that rolled across the six-yard box, with Anna Powell unable to get a touch on, and the ball rolled out for a corner. Bronwyn Studman eventually cleared the danger.
As they have a predictable habit of doing, RedStar made the NTC pay for failing to take that chance, and with five minutes remaining of the half doubled their lead.
Quyen Doan played a long angled pass from inside her own half in behind the high line of the NTC defence and the bounce spun the ball into the path of Shawn Billam. Billam advanced into the box and slid her shot under Bailey and into the net.
RedStar continued to press in the second half, and three opportunities came to further extend their lead within a four-minute spell. From the sixth of their ever-growing corner count, Bailey couldn’t gather the cross, and Studman hit a shot over.
Shortly afterwards, Sarah Carroll was in at the left side of the box, with Bailey making an excellent save from point blank range. The NTC custodian made a similar stop within moments as Jay Coleman found Ridley who was denied.
As the sun began to go down over Perth, the inevitability of RedStar’s victory grew with NTC unable to get any shots in on goal as the undefeated NPLW WA champions took the heat out of the game, using their experience to manage the encounter effectively.
There were further opportunities for Carlos Vega Mena’s side to add to their tally, with Bailey denying Carla Bennett. Then with a quarter of an hour to play, superb footwork from substitute Renee Leota saw her escape from the attention of two defenders and find Wood outside her. A low ball was played in from the right for Leota near the penalty spot, but the shot was lifted well over the bar.
Within two minutes though, the icing on the RedStar cake was added. Wood showed outstanding skill to get away from Violet Longmore and then dance past Jenna Harnwell along the left to lift the ball in. NTC’s Ava Richards went down under the physical presence of Coleman whose pass found Ridley. The substitute smashed home a shot from the right of centre inside the area.
The remaining 12 minutes were comfortable for RedStar as they deservedly took the honours.
This Perth RedStar team will go down as one of the greatest in Western Australian women’s football history. It is a real shame that they will not get the chance to test themselves against the NPLW champions of the other states. Such a hugely talented, ruthless team who are so well coached would be a serious threat to the best that New South Wales and Victoria would have to offer.
Perth RedStar one of those truly outstanding teams that only come around every few years. They are that good. They are worthy champions.
Teams: PERTH REDSTAR: Diederichsen, S.Carroll, Walsh, Studman, Bennett, K.Carroll, Billam, Wood, Dunn, Coleman, Doan. Substitutes: De Leo, Ridley, Finnegan, Goud, Leota, Larsen, Odonohoe.
Scorer: Walsh 5′, Billam 40′, Ridley 77′.
HYUNDAI NTC: Bailey, Anderson, Johnston, Lala, Tana, Powell, Woolley, Harnwell, Vega Mena, Meaden, Longmore. Substitutes: Thodhlana, Richards, Adams, Trueman.
Referee: Caleigh Ormerod.
Whilst the NPLW WA season may now have come to an end, our WA on Wednesday series will continue with Impetus’ Ben Gilby speaking exclusively to the competition’s head coaches and players to review the campaign. With the new A-League Women season on the horizon, the feature will go on to feature weekly interviews from the Perth Glory team.