Sidney scores a screamer & Bulleen start to build – NPLW Victoria Wrap Round 7

By Kieran Yap (3/5/23)

Above: Bulleen Lions Goalkeeper Gaby Garton stretches to save for Bulleen Lions. Photo: Passion Creation. Instagram @joatam

One of the league’s best modern rivalries resumed in round seven. Elsewhere Boroondara-Carey Eagles showed that they can score goals without their star striker, and Sidney Allen scored a screamer.

Calder United 4-2 Heidelberg United

Heidelberg United and Calder United have played out some classic matches in recent times, and round seven was another to add to the growling catalogue.

Calder United came into this game struggling for results if not exactly form. They have a significantly different squad from last season. Importantly, and unlike 2022, this team is still learning to play together. When they click, they can be a very exciting team.

Heidelberg have adjusted well to the departure of the 2022 Golden Boot winner Danielle Wise. Captain Stephanie Galea been their most in-form player, but the ‘Bergers’ strength is that they are a side in sync. Johnno Clemente’s team is capable of some patient but incisive end-to-end football at their best.

Neither of these two proud clubs are exactly where they want to be just yet, but it is a competitive league, and as FV Emerging’s late run last year showed, nothing is impossible.

It was new signing Katrina Nikpour who opened the scoring. The Heidelberg striker met a corner kick at close range and knocked it over the line to give the visitors a 10th-minute lead, but Calder United hit back very quickly through Larissa Walsh.

Some swift ball movement in the final third found the overlapping winger who kept her cool to finish beyond Natasha Stathopoulos and level the scores.

The in-form Fiorina Iaraia added another to her rapidly growing catalogue of goals with an injury-time strike that send Calder United into the break with a 2-1 lead. It was her third goal of the season so far. The winger has a delicate first touch and a deadly finish.

Heidelberg came out of the break full of determination and levelled the scores through Reona Omiya. Her strike from the edge of the box was viciously struck. The Calder United goalkeeper had little chance of stopping it through a crowded penalty area.

In an end-to-end game, Calder scored the final two goals in an important and impressive win. Montana Mathews’ corner was turned in by Walsh for her second, and Alexis Mitchell added a fourth with an absolute missile from long range. The quick, attacking passing put the striker into space, the finish was solo magic to cap off Calder United’s second win of the campaign.

Southern United 0-3 Boroondara Carey Eagles

The Boroondara-Carey Eagles climbed to top spot on the table with a convincing win over Southern United. Kurea Okino has been the attacking star of the team so far, but the prolific striker was kept in reserve on this occasion as the Eagles flexed their attacking depth.

Emily Heijden got the visitors off to a strong start with a seventh-minute goal. The midfielder stayed patient and crafted some space at the edge of the box before sweeping her shot into the net.

Marguerite Eudes added another before halftime. Southern were building through a well-worked passing move that was cut off by a rudimentary but effective high clearance. Eudes’s goal was positionally like Boroondara’s first. Her chip evaded the keeper to make it 2-0 and give Southern United a mountain to climb.

The third came in slightly harsh circumstances. A slick attack resulted in a close-range handball, and the penalty kick was duly dispatched by Rebecca Lim.

The win means that The Eagles sit in first place after seven games, ahead of Alamein, and clear of South Melbourne and Preston even though they both have a game in hand.

Box Hill United 0-1 Bulleen Lions

Caitlin Friend’s Bulleen Lions got a much-needed win over the determined Box Hill United on the Friday night game. Defender Alex Natoli turned the first-half corner kick in for the only goal of the game and help Bulleen climb the table to sixth.

Box Hill were without their young attacker Sienna Techera but remained creative in attack. It was an even contest that Bulleen never really looked like losing, despite the home side having nine shots on target. Melbourne Victory champion Gaby Garton was back to her best between the sticks.

Bulleen have yet to find their stylish attacking groove of last season. Rosie Rodger remains an exciting creative outlet, but although the goals are not yet flowing, they are a tough team to play against. They have only lost the one game so far and are continuing to build.

Box Hill are a mystery for now. They matched Bulleen in all the major stats, but could not find a way to goal. There is nothing obviously wrong with the way that they are playing and they boast a truly dangerous attacker in Anais Josefski. A goal-mouth poacher is all that is missing from this team, and if they can unearth one from their own ranks or from the A-League Women players, they will start troubling teams on the score sheet as much as they can on the balance of play.

Preston Lions 1-1 FV Emerging

The high-flying Preston Lions faced off against the unpredictable but talented FV Emerging. The game itself was a tight contest and neither team could find a winning goal, but there was still some terrific skill on display.

Miri Nishimura’s perfectly placed corner kick delivered the opening goal of the game for Preston. The ball in landed right at the edge of the six-yard box and Georgia Henderson met it at full pace. The header was textbook and almost impossible to defend.

The equaliser arrived before half-time. Alana Cortellino has been one of the league’s most exciting young prospects and her wing play has troubled every opponent she has faced. On this occasion, she received the ball wide, sized up her opponent then cut out to deliver a cross that could only be deflected away. Clancy Westaway reacted quickest and with the best technique. Her first-time strike clattered off the far post to level the scores.

South Melbourne 0-1 Alamein FC

Sidney Allen’s 70th-minute strike was all that separated Alamein FC and the hosts South Melbourne at Lakeside. It was a worthy winner and one of the best goals of the round.

Rebecca Saber’s game-breaking run down the left forged the opening. Her cutback to Allen in the middle was excellent but still left the winger with plenty to do. Allen’s first touch took her clear of the defenders but wide of the goal, then from the edge of the box she unleashed a strike off her right foot that Zara Board in goal had little chance of getting a hand to.

The win keeps Alamein in second place, It was a crucial victory over the fourth-placed South Melbourne who have a game in hand. They can still be leapfrogged by a Preston win, but that is not something they will be concerned about after this important result.

Table from: NPLW Victoria.

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