By Kieran Yap (10/5/23)
Above: Nicole Blackett brings up her hat trick for Heidelberg United. Photo: Passion Creations. @Jaotam Instagram
FV Emerging 1-1 Calder United
Calder United travelled to face Victoria’s most promising young players in the first game of the round. Last season’s much-changed champions were coming off a strong result from round seven. The 4-2 win against Heidelberg United was one of their strongest displays of the season, the game was determined by individual moments of brilliance but built on a foundation of good team defence and aggressive pressing. So were the champs back? Not if FV Emerging had anything to say about it.
FV Emerging have been impressive to watch so far, and the results have not really reflected their performances. Put simply, they are difficult to play against and dangerous going forward. This is how it played out for much of the game, Calder United had chances and plenty of the ball, but struggled to break down the Emerging defence. It took until the 55th minute to break the deadlock. Lucy Richards thrashed home a goal after a corner kick caused a goalmouth scramble.
FV Emerging were not cowed by going behind. They have the weapons in attack, and the confidence to use them. In the trickery of Alana Cortellino and the vision of Candice Kilderry, they have genuine game-breaking players. The pair combined five minutes later to set up Emily Keppens for a stylish equaliser.
Kilderry’s through ball put Cortellino into space, then the cross was met by Keppens’ well-timed run and finish. It would be the last goal of the game, but a worthy equaliser.
Heidelberg United 6-1 Southern United
Johnno Clemente welcomed back an A-League Women star for Heidelberg’s match against Southern United.
The Berger’s were looking to respond to the loss against Calder and the addition of Perth Glory midfielder Tijan McKenna was a boost to their hopes. Elwen Parbery opened the scoring in the 15th minute. The winger’s corner kick swung straight into the net beyond the keeper’s grasp and over the head of the leaping Steph Galea. It was a spectacular way to open her account for the season.
The home side doubled their lead early in the second half. A Southern United goal kick fell short and although Galea’s strike was repelled, the goalkeeper could do little about the rebound. Substitute Nicole Blackett made it 2-0. Rina Omiya added a third after some neat interplay around the edge of the box. One incisive pass by Kathryn Vlahopoulos put her behind the defence and a composed finish put Heidelberg in cruise control.
Blackett brought up her brace with a stunning first-time strike. Galea’s run and cutback put the attacker in a good position. The shot was well-struck and left the defence with no time to react. 4-0.
Southern United earned a lifeline with a 70th-minute penalty kick from a handball. Yuka Sato stepped up and hit it low but a little too wide, Melissa Maizels chose the correct side, but the post denied Southern United a goal. Tijan McKenna announced her return to the competition with an incredible strike to bring up their fifth. Omiya tried to craft an opening and was denied by the Southern defence. She backtracked and played it back to the deep-lying Mckenna, who looked up and launched over the out-of-position goalkeeper. Despite a good effort to save, McKenna had her first of the season, and sent a reminder of why she is so highly regarded in this competition.
Southern continued to attack despite the scoreline and scored in the late stages of the game. Jade Tam’s long pass found Rhiannon Kelleher, who looked to have been forced too wide to trouble Maizels. Her lofted shot was perfectly placed and stunned the crowd in attendance. Heidelberg would have the last word, however. Blackett stood over the free kick, and there was only ever going to be one result. Her long-range effort brought up an injury time hattrick and a 6-1 result for the home side.
South Melbourne 3-1 Preston Lions
When South Melbourne signed Danielle Wise, it was a statement of intent. The striker’s arrival was announced closer to the last postseason than this year’s pre-season and with the Golden Boot winner in their ranks, expectations were growing.
Against the high-flying Preston Lions, Wise showed why she was so sought after. Her pace, directness and willingness to shoot caused problems for the visitors and delighted the home crowd.
Her opening goal was that of a penalty box poacher. Tayla Christensen’s run was capped off with a perfect curling cross. Janna Lawson arrived to meet it at the far post, but it bounced off the woodwork. Wise reacted quickest to turn it home. South Melbourne went into the break with a 2-0 lead thanks to an own goal. Leia Varley’s deep cross was bundled into her own net by Delaney Lindahl. There was little she could do. Had she not made an effort, a South Melbourne attacker surely would have.
Wise made it 3-0 in a dominant second half. Dragana Kljajic sent in a perfect long ball for the speedster to run onto. Once she was clear of the defenders, Wise only needed one more touch to flick it past the onrushing keeper. Preston have been good this season and although they were well beaten by South Melbourne, they showed flashes of why they are near the top of the table.
Miri Nishimura scored one of the best goals of the round as a late consolation. Preston’s defensive pressure won the ball back, and it eventually fell the Nishimura. Her first touch juggled it past the defender and also served to set herself up for an incredible half-volley that flew into the net. The match finished 3-1, but these are two very watchable sides and this game was a treat.
Bayside United 3-1 Box Hill United
An Anais Josefski strike was not enough for Box Hill to get a win. Bayside United were simply stronger in attack against the struggling, but dangerous visitors.
Kayla Deaver found the back of the net for Bayside in the 31st minute. Caitlin Storay won possession out wide and her long ball found Deaver who still had plenty to do. Her pace looked like it had taken her clear of the defence, but she stopped and propped to create some space. From outside of the area, she took aim and rifled home the opening goal.
Josefski pulled Box Hill level after a swift counterattack ended with the striker finishing off Emma Langley’s low cross. It was an excellent move, as Box Hill went from almost conceding to the equaliser with four direct, aggressive passes. Bayside re-took the lead before halftime. Another direct play led to Julia Budiongo racing onto a loose ball and tucking it away to make it 2-1.
Maryam Anvari doubled the lead and sealed the points late in the match. Bayside’s press won the ball, and Budiongo was slipped in behind the defence. She rounded the keeper, but Ava Walters managed to get a hand to it. Anvari was on hand to finish the rebound once again.
Bulleen Lions 2-1 Alamein
This was an intriguing contest. Alamein have started the season strong, while Bulleen are still growing into the campaign. Caitlin Friend’s side have remained difficult to beat even if the goals have not really started flowing, and they have started to grind out wins in the league and the Nike FC Cup.
The opening goal came from route one football. Katie Beck’s long free kick was placed nicdely at the edge of the area. Audrey Oastler directed the flick-on toward goal and Caitlin O’Brien was on hand to score from close range. Ashleigh Lefevre was on the end of a nice passing move for Alamein’s equaliser. Elaina Vatcky and Rebecca Saber linked up and spread the ball wide to the fast-arriving Lefevre. The finish was hit without hesitation, and it was 1-1 in the second half.
The game was won from a corner kick in the 50th minute. It is unclear who got the final touch, but Bulleen Lions celebrated a team win as they continue to find form and fight out victories.
At the end of the round, Boroondara-Carey Eagles remain on top despite having the bye. Alamein’s loss cost them a chance to move into first position but Heidelberg and South Melbourne climb into third and fourth respectively. It remains an unpredictable league and round eight was an entertaining as ever. Next week, Heidelberg United will face their toughest test so far against Boroondara-Carey, while Bulleen will face off against Preston as the two Lions do battle.