Arrive Alive Womens Super League Review


Arrive Alive NSW Womens Super League Match of the Round
Inter Lions v Illawarra Stingrays
Dull skies and a pre match shower did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the Inter Lions and Illawarra Stingrays sides as they took the field for the opening match of their Arrive Alive NSW Womens Super League season.
The game commenced with both sides wary of what firepower the opposition had to offer. The combatants made attacking forays into each others half without any major threat on goal.
In the 8th minute Illawarra?s Christie Akid made a crashing tackle on Inter?s Hayley Macbeth. The challenge drew Akid a yellow card and saw Macbeth requiring attention for injury.
Soon after Some good lead up work from Stingrays Captain, Michelle Carney saw Cassie Holloway burst through on the right only to be taken down in a tackle by Inter?s Rose Scarlato. The referee immediately blew his whistle to signal a penalty to Illawarra and issued a yellow card to Scarlato. Christie Akid stepped up to slot the penalty away and give Illawarra Stingrays a 1-0 lead.
Inter Lions were making every effort to match it with Illawarra but The Stingrays seemed to be dominating possession and generally controlling the middle of the park. The Stingrays showed good structure and were using plenty of width in their attack.
A bright spot for Inter Lions came when former Young Matilda, Catherine Cannuli, making a return to the game after a long lay off, broke through only to be dispossessed on the edge of the Stingrays box. Illawarra then broke up field before through Michelle Carney before Michelle Heyman shot over the bar.
Hayley Macbeth and Dominique Caridad were working hard for Inter in the centre of the park but The Lions could not sustain pressure.
Successive corners by Illawarra caused big problems for Inter before a shot of their own by Macbeth went wide. Illawarra continued to push forward with Carney in particular causing plenty of headaches for the Inter Lions defence. A clash of bodies in when challenging for a ball in the 25th minute saw Inter players Yatim and Masico momentarily injured.
At the 27 minute mark the Stingrays defence were in trouble and conceded a free kick. The blazing shot from Catherine Cannuli just cleared the crossbar. Cannuli, though obviously short of match fitness, showed all the touches of a class player. Her combination with strike partner Jennie Scott was working well. At the half hour mark in the first half a great pass by Cannuli sent Scott racing into the box only to send a meek sheet straight at the keeper.
Soon after The Stingrays were given an opportunity after a bad bounce left the Inter defence stranded. Cassie Holloway sped onto the ball only to hit the underside of the cross bar with her shot.
Illawarra had assumed some control and some fine lead up work brought them deep into the Inter half on attack. Caitlin Danyi popped a fine long ball into Michelle Heyman whose deft back heel to a support nearly opened up the defence. The Lions failed to clear the danger however and Illwarra?s Christie Akid regained possession to put away goal number two for The Stingrays.
More disaster for Inter Lions soon followed with an error from defender Rose Scarlato led to an own goal. It just didn?t seem to be Rose?s day!
Inter attempted to rally before half time with Cannuli again providing some class with a fine shot from a free kick that was fumbled but eventually saved by Illawarra keeper Sarah Gollop. On half time Cannuli had another chance from a corner but her header went over the bar. The players took the half time break with Illawarra holding a commanding 3-0 lead.
Rays came out on the attack after half time but the first good chance of the half fell to Inter with Cannuli breaking after a turnover before centering the ball to Scott who in turn laid off for Macbeth. The fine move came to nought however when goalkeeper Gollop blocked the shot. Similarly Illawarra?s Heyman broke away from a turnover before being dispossessed inside the area by a desperate Inter Lions defence.
Illawarra continued to create the better opportunities with strong runs and passing by Caitlin Danyi being a feature of this period. Carney continued to present danger for the Inter defence but the ball was just failing to drop into the right spot for her.
Both coaches went to the bench with Maniso Michael replacing Erica Halloway for Stingrays and Inter opting to sub Jennie Scott with youngster Stephanie Haaring.
In the 18th minute of the half Cassie Halloway did well but sent her shot wide from just outside the right hand edge of the box. Inter were having difficulty mounting meaningful attacks. They attempted to chip the ball over the Stingrays defence for their advancing attack but this option was generally being handled comfortably by the Illawarra keeper. Cannuli again shot from distance but was wide of the target.
The 22nd minute saw a great interchange of passes from Stingrays players Michael, Heyman and Carney before a distance shot from Jayd Cunnigham fell short to the keeper. Soon after, a loss of possession in their own half by the Inter Lions side saw Akid miss from distance. Carney soon followed with a brilliant zig zagging run before missing with her shot at goal.
The Stingrays defence was saved from blushes of embarrassment soon after when a mix up in defence saw a pass to keeper gallop drift across the front of the Illawarra goal. But the hurried clearance saw Illawarra break away in attack.
A resulting corner had a header from Heyman going across the box before being cleared. Sustained Illawarra pressure saw another corner from which an attempted Carney header was fumbled but saved by Inter keeper Kerrie Antoniou. Akid also shot at goal soon after but the ball went wide.
Rays soon after subbed Cassie Halloway with Rebecca Garland whilst Inter brought Jessica Hurst on for Brooke Cowie.
Heyman and Carney were causing the Inter defence all sorts of problems. Heyman had two goal scoring chances only moments apart, firstly from a break which was closed down by a fine tackle from Scarlato. Heyman then intercepted a poor pass from the Lions defenders before sprinting away. Unfortunately her shot went straight to the keeper and Stingrays were denied again.
However, the dark clouds held a silver lining for Inter Lions. After working play upfield a shot was blocked by Stingrays keeper Gollop. However, she failed to hold the ball and the ball was blasted into the back of the net by Stephanie Haaring. Some renewed hope for Inter at a 3-1 scoreline.
This momentary setback only seemed to spark Stingrays with Heyman again slicing up the defence. Her combination with Carney saw the latter put an uncontrolled header over the goal line before similar fine passing saw Carney?s cheeky back heel shot at goal deflected for a corner.
Soon after a strong run and Caitlin Danyi, followed by a pin point ball into the box had Carney putting away a fine angled header for Stingrays goal number four.
The Stingrays girls didn?t rest on their laurels with more good attacking play leading to two wide shots at goal.
In the 39th minute Illawarra replaced Jayd Cunnigham with Ema Stojic.
The last five minutes of the match saw a flurry of goals.
Firstly, at the 40th minute mark, a free kick from inside her own half by Rose Scarlato caused confusion between the Stingrays defence and keeper. The ball lobbed over the heads and ran into goal untouched. Stingrays up 4-2.
Two minutes later a corner from Caitlin Danyi once again found the head of Carney for her second goal and Stingrays fifth. In the dying moments an attack down the right flank by Stingrays saw a flick pass on the edge of the box caught in a nice reflex action by Inter defender Souhier Yatim. Oops! Penalty to Illawarra, yellow card for Yatim and much merriment all round. Even the referee had a smile on his face. The penalty also bought a smile to the face of Heyman who put her shot past the keeper for a 6-2 final scoreline.
Stingrays Coach, Darren Sewalt, thought that his side played well technically. He expressed disappointment in the manner of the two conceded goals which he put down to keeper error. Sewalt commented that both Carney and Heyman had played well, adding that both will score plenty of goals this season.
Inter Lions Coach Joe Baldacci was not disappointed with his team?s display. He said that the team knew they would be facing a strong opposition.
Baldacci said that his side failed to create chances and allowed Stingrays to dominate the 50/50 balls. The first game jitters were out of the way for his team but that the challenge was now there to work hard to win matches.
His side had a lot of young players and girls coming through straight from park soccer level. He was still confident that the Lions could develop into a top four contender. He was impressed with the efforts of Canulli, who he said would get better with match fitness, Rose Scarleta and Domnique Caridad.
Illawarra Stingrays looked very impressive to this reporter. I saw enough to think they?ll be hard to beat for the title with natural improvement during the season. Inter do, as Coach Baldacci said, have some work to do but they may be capable of living up to his confidence. The season has a long way to go!
Other Arrive Alive NSW Womens Super League results included;
Western NSW Panthers 2 beat Southern NSW FC 0 in their local derby.
Gladesville Ravens 2 UNSW 0
Bankstown Wildcats 2 defeated Blacktown Spartans 1
St George FC 2 beat Northern Tigers 1
-By Ross Anderson