Ben Gilby provides a full report from the game of the week plus all the details from the other matches in Western Australia’s NPL Women’s competition (8/5/23).
Above: Tash Rigby, shown here in action last season in the NPLW WA, was back for Fremantle City yesterday. Photo: Denyse McCulloch.
Game of the week:
Fremantle City 2-1 Hyundai NTC
Fremantle City became the first team to defeat Hyundai NTC this season in the NPL, and extended their own unbeaten run to three matches in the process at Hilton Park yesterday.
Freo fielded A-League Women stars Tash Rigby and Abbey Green for the first time this season, with both of the Perth Glory players influential on the action. The NTC also welcomed back Ischia Brooking and Ruby Cuthbert from their successful trip to the first stage of the U16 Asian Cup qualifying competition with the Junior Matildas.
The NTC’s unbeaten start to the campaign was under threat from the start as Fremantle City hit the front with just four minutes played. The teenage side tried to play out from the back with Ruby Cuthbert directing the ball back to goalkeeper Lilly Bailey, but Bailey’s attempted pass to Natasha Tanner was seized upon by Laura Waltman who jumped in to blast home.
Within two minutes the home side created once more as Olivia Trueman danced her way through, but just as she was about to pull the trigger, the NTC defence blocked well. There would be another opportunity from Waltman’s free kick on the far right hand side of the box that came in high, but Bailey claimed well.
Waltman was having a stand-out 45 – her ability on the ball and vision to bring her teammates into play was hugely influential on Freo’s offensive play.
Fremantle were well prepared, well drilled, and alert to NTC’s movements and style of play. They allowed the youngsters very little time on the ball to develop their trademark passing play. In addition, when in possession themselves, the home side were able to manufacture time to hold onto the ball and look for the right pass to play – feats that the NTC’s opponents thus far in 2023 had not been consistently successful at.
As the half entered its final 15 minutes, the NTC grabbed a foothold and began to mount their first sustained periods of pressure. Mia Britton, always a bundle of creativity on the right flank turned inside for Ruby Cuthbert who found Brooking. The Junior Matilda let fly from outside the box, and the shot rolled narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
The second period saw Fremantle threaten, but the NTC were always dangerous with a succession of rapid-paced counter-attacks, with the youngsters able to get plenty forward in support. Catherine Adams was working hard for the hosts to deny the jet-heeled visitors.
The bulk of Freo’s attacks in this period were coming via the right-hand side with Rigby and Maya Spatafore linking up well.
Just after the hour mark, NTC came close to levelling when Mischa Anderson’s free-kick from the right came in high towards the back post but Cuthbert couldn’t quite reach the ball.
Play was then halted for a spell with 20 minutes remaining when visiting goalkeeper Bailey collided with a Fremantle player when coming out to clear the ball, and had to be helped from the pitch with Megan Phillips coming on in her place.
Within moments the game caught fire with two goals in a minute. First, Gronewald-Shield played a centimetre perfect through ball for Brooking to run onto and slot home a superb finish to pull the NTC level.
Yet from the re-start, Freo re-established their lead. Abbey Green broke along the left and cut in. Her first attempt at a low cross was blocked, but the ball rebounded for the Perth Glory A-League player to play it across for Mikayla Lyons to direct over the line from close range.
The drama was not over as, with eight minutes remaining, the NTC came agonisingly close to levelling. Klaudia Houlis was found by a long ball, her shot hit Dayle Schroeder in the Fremantle goal and looped up towards the net, but Annabelle Leek got back to clear the ball at the last possible second.
This was a huge win in the context of Fremantle City’s season. With their A-League Women players coming into the squad, and their unbeaten run extended, what originally appeared to be a three-way battle for the title this year could now be up to four or five with the port city side joining the race and Murdoch University Melville beginning to find form as well.
The NTC, who went into this round with a two-point cushion at the top of the ladder are now down to third, with fifth-placed MUM FC just three points adrift of them with the two sides meeting this Wednesday. Their starlet Tanika Lala is also going on trial in Scotland.
Teams: FREMANTLE CITY: Schroeder, Leek, Adams, Spatafore, Waltman, McCulloch, Boorman, Green, Trueman, Rigby, Hawkins. Substitutes: Kiama, Lyons, Osborne, Gaspar.
Scorer: Waltman 4′, Lyons 75′.
HYUNDAI NTC: Bailey, Cuthbert, Tanner, Johnson, Anderson, Groenewald-Shield, Cassidy, Brooking, Tana, Britton, Archibald. Substitutes: Johnson, Collins, Collinson, Houlis, O’Halloran, Phillips (GK), Lala.
Scorer: Brooking 74′.
Balcatta Etna 2-3 Murdoch University Melville
Murdoch University Melville claimed an important win in the battle to stay in touching distance of the top four with victory at Grindleford Reserve on Sunday afternoon.
It was the home side that went ahead in stoppage time at the end of the first half when Stacey Cavill’s goal kick went straight to Monique Prinsloo who played a 1-2 with Tia Stonehill before laying off for Andrea Bulgaru to score.
On the hour mark, MUM FC were level as a low ball in from the right fell for Sophie Meaden. Her initial shot was brilliantly saved by Gabby Dal Busco in the Balcatta goal, but the ball fell perfectly for Meaden to smash home from close range. Yet this would be just the beginning of a spell of four goals in nine minutes.
Yet, within seconds, Balcatta went back ahead as great work from Stonehill along the right wing ended with Prinsloo finding Bulgaru who turned and dispatched a low shot into the left hand corner of the net.
The rapid-fire nature of scoring continued five minutes later. Nicolina Ierino’s low pass from the right found Samantha Mathers in space, and her first-time lofted shot flew in to level the scores once more.
Murdoch University Melville claimed the victory with 20 minutes remaining as a low pass from the left was directed in by Jessica Johnson.
Subiaco 1-4 Perth RedStar
Perth RedStar jumped up to second place with victory at Rosalie Park on Sunday afternoon.
They hit the front with five minutes on the clock as Sophia Neal advanced up the right flank and squared for Olivia Wood to sweep home at the back post. Just 12 minutes later, they doubled their advantage as Reina Kagami pounced to take advantage of a heavy touch in the Subiaco defence to break through and slot home.
The rapid-fire nature of the scoring continued as Subi got a goal back with 23 minutes on the clock, with some sensational play from Phoenix Brownlie who picked up the ball in her own half and laid off to Dakota van Vugt, who then moved it across for Marianna Tabain. The former Perth Glory star laid off a pass for Brownlie to run onto. Quyen Doan’s attempted challenge was shrugged off before Brownlie rifled home a brilliant finish.
RedStar finally sealed the points with five minutes to go. Jay Coleman found Jayna Ridley, who in turn laid a pass off for Kagami to run onto in the box and slot across Subiaco keeper Ashleigh Riddle and into the far corner.
The icing on the cake came with just over a minute remaining as Doan lifted a ball into the mix which rebounded off both Riddle and Kagami before going in possibly via a deflection, but Kagami will be claiming the hat-trick.
Perth SC 11-0 Curtin University
Perth SC returned to the summit after last week’s first loss of the season to the NTC a comfortable victory over rock-bottom Curtin University, who are still looking for their first goal in ten league and cup games this season.
It took The Azzurri 10 minutes to hit the front as Jaime Duncanson played a ball towards Abbey Meakins from the right. The favour was returned for Duncanson to lash home.
The floodgates then opened as expected. Within two minutes Perth doubled their lead as Matilda Bohm advanced into the box, held off several attempted tackles, and dispatched the ball into the left-hand side of the net. Another two minutes passed before Ella Lincoln ran onto a through ball just inside the Curtin half and calmly placed a shot into the net.
It was 4-0 when Abbey Meakins received the ball in acres of space and lifted it in. On the half-hour, Duncanson grabbed her second of the afternoon with a superb curling shot into the far corner.
Five minutes before the break, Duncanson completed her hat trick as Liana Cook’s effort was pushed up by the Curtin keeper and fell kindly for her to head into an empty net. There was still time for a seventh in the first half as Ellie La Monte dispatched a header into the goal.
Within 34 seconds of the second half kicking off, The Azzurri scored once more. This time, Poppie Hooks drove up the right flank and produced a pacey ball for Meakins to slam home for her second. Five minutes later, the attacker completed her hattrick to make it 9-0 when she was found in space to slot into the net.
Duncanson’s fourth made it 10 for Perth SC when she smashed a shot above the visiting keeper and in. Monique Godding turned the ball home from close range with 20 minutes remaining to complete the rout.
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