Arrive Alive NSW Womens Premier League Round 5 Review


Match of the Round – Macarthur Rams v NWS Koalas
A long awaited match up between the defending champions, Macarthur Rams and the contenders for their throne, the girls from NWS Koalas. The Koalas came into the match undefeated whist The Rams had hit a rich vein of form since their first round loss to Marconi Stallions. The Rams strike force of Stephanie Haim and Renee Cartwright had been finding the back of the net regularly. Could the Koalas stars like Anna McLean and Alicia Cavanagh match them?
Both teams appeared to push forward from the start of the match with Alicia Cavanagh prominent. Cirjak, Jones and Doyle combined early before good defence from Rams Sam Donaldson closed down the raid. Anna McLean?s successive corners weren?t properly cleared by Rams but led to nothing.
Macarthur started to settle into some rhythm though and soon after a free kick by Kylie Ledbrook found Sigrid Manty. Koalas failed to clear Manty?s cross before a muffled shot by Leesa Thomson was held by the Koalas keeper. An interchange of passing between Ledbrook and Donaldson then led to a shot from Ledbrook sailing over the cross bar.
Koalas tried to build an attack but a solid tackle from Danielle Brogan left Koalas Danni Calvi crumpled on the ground. Calvi eventually continued but was obviously struggling.
Both sides matched each other in attack with periods of dominance. Play was going from end to end with fine build up but not so brilliant finishing. Cirjak, Neilson, Calvi and Doyle combined for Koalas before Cartwright exploded from a break out from Rams.
The Koalas defence though was equal to the task and closed down the danger. Runs by Lauren Ralston and Stephanie Haim caused Koalas some problems before Annalese Baker shot wide. McLean was causing The Rams defence plenty of headaches with her strong running and pinpoint crosses.
In the 22nd minute a great ball from Doyle found Cavanagh but her solid shot was put over the bar by Rams keeper Jackson who then safely held the ball from the resulting corner. The Rams replied with a long ball from Brogan finding Ralston who burst into the box. As she turned towards goal she was tackled. Cries of ?Penalty? came from the Macarthur supporters but referee Belinda Arnott would have none of it.
This heralded a period of dominance by Macarthur where a solid distance shot from Baker went, a free kick from Cartwright rebounded off The Koalas wall and Brogan, Haim and Ledbrook combined to test the Koalas defensive resolve.
At the 28 minute mark Calvi finally succumbed to her earlier injury and was replaced by Katerina Kraft.
Rams continued to push forward with Baker, Thomson and Haim impressing with a classy interchange of passes. This was no place for the feint hearted with very physical defence from both sides whilst the game was being played at a frantic pace.
Cavanagh then broke the trend to put her self in an position to shoot from distance in the 33rd minute but The Koalas star?s effort cleared the cross bar. The Koalas followed up with a fine free kick from Mclean which forced The Rams to concede a corner.
This caused something of a scramble in the box but, after The Rams keeper initially dropped the ball, the defence cleared. Rams burst straight into attack from Haim but a great tackle from Koalas Gabby Dickinson saved the day.
Both sides continued to trade attacking surges but in the 40th minute a great cross by NWS?s Meegan Shepherd was misjudged by Rams keeper Monique Jackson whose slight deflection saw the ball bobble into the goal. All of a sudden it?s 1-0 to The Koalas.
Doyle and Kraft then put together a fine interchange of passes to send The Koalas straight back on to the attack but the last pass was too strong with keeper Jackson diving at the feet of Doyle to defuse the danger.
Right on half time a long ball from Rams Kylie Ledbrook found Cartwright charging through but The Koalas keeper, despite initially fumbling the ball, got there in time to save the day. That was it for the first half action with The Koalas happy to go to oranges with a 1-0 advantage.
The Koalas came out running with an early ball from Rachel Jones headed through to the keeper by Alicia Cavanagh. Once again Macarthur breaks quickly from defence with a fine run by Kylie Ledbrook.
A poor through ball breaks down the attack before second opportunity from outside the box test the Koalas keeper. Ledbrook is pulling all the strings in the early part of the half and The Koalas are having trouble trying to keep her under wraps.
Jones and Doyle both shoot wide with distance speculators for NWS. Doyle, in fact, gets in consecutive shots but the Macarthur defence manages to hold out.
The 52nd minute sees a free kick to Rams on the edge of the Koalas area. The kick by Haim deflects off the wall but the follow up from Rams brings a desperate clearance by the defence.
Lauren Ralston then breaks down the left for Rams before running into the Koalas box. Her shot though is safely held by the keeper. Moments later Sam Donaldson shoots from distance for Macarthur but the shot is once again nullified by the keeper. Rams are right on top at this stage. Renee Cartwright makes a nice run for Rams but her shot is deflected off a defender into the safe hands of The Koalas custodian. Soon after another opportunity for Cartwright is hit into the side netting..
In the 56th minute Manty makes a great run for Macarthur. She dashes into the box and cuts left towards goal. She shoots from a tight angle but threads the needle with the ball deflecting off a leaping keeper to hit the back of the net. We?re all tied up at 1-1 and The Rams are really looking like the defending champions!
The Koalas now sub Meegan Shepherd with Leonore Carr.
A free kick from NWS?s Rachel Jones flies deep into The Rams area but is safely held by keeper Jackson. The reply from Macarthur is swift though with a grand attacking raid orchestrated by Kylie Ledbrook ending in a Rams corner. The Koalas struggle to clear the dead ball situation with Stephanie Haim?s resulting shot going wide.
A harsh tackle brings Rachel Jones to ground near half way. A free kick is awarded to The Koalas but Jones is obviously hurt. After a lengthy injury break Jones is stretchered from the field. This is a big loss to Koalas and causes a reshuffle with Cavanagh dropping back into a midfield role.
Soon after some confusion in The Koalas defence allows Stephanie Haim to burst through and intercept the ball. She dashes into the area but her shot is straight to the Koalas keeper. Haim, Ledbrook and Cartwright are causing the NWS defence some giant migraines.
They can?t be closed won and continue to mount pressure. Cartwright cops a yellow card for dissent but it?s probably more frustration than anything else. She wants to take advantage of these continued opportunities that are coming her way.
In the 70th minute some fine attacking build up from The Rams leads to a free kick. Haim?s lick causes mayhem in the box with the keeper beaten but the Macarthur shot being cleared off the line by a Koalas defender. The Koalas try to lift breaking out of defence through Carr but the final pass to Katarina Kraft goes astray.
The 76th minute sees NWS force a corner. The delivery is a good one but the header is pushed wide under pressure from the Macarthur defence. Manty then makes another searching run for Macarthur before being closed down by a last ditch tackle. Cartwright and Ledbrook then combine to put Cartwright into the area. Her shot is deflected by the keeper for a corner.
The 80th minute sees a fine run by Lauren Ralston. As she is about to run into the area she is brought down from behind by a Koalas defender. Screams of  ?Penalty? ring out but Ralston is hit just outside the penalty box.
A free kick is awarded by referee Arnott. Kylie Ledbrook steps up to take the kick and slams it into the top right hand corner of the net. It?s 2-1 to Macarthur. How fitting to see Ledbrook score after her stirring performance for The Rams!
The remaining minutes are dominated by Macarthur with Cartwright, Ledbrook and Thompson continuing to torment the visiting side?s defence. In the 87th minute Ledbrook shoots across the goal. The Koalas keeper is stranded but the ball hits the post and deflects away. Full time brings a 2-1 scoreline in favour of the locals.
Rams Coach Peter Davies commented after the match that he felt a draw would have been a good result. He said that two freakish goals influenced the result. The Koalas were a very good side this season, Davies stated. ?I won?t be looking forward to the rematch on their home turf? Davies said. He further commented that, in his opinion, Kylie Ledbrook was the outstanding player of the match.
Koalas Coach Claude De Francesco said that this was a very tough game. He felt that his team had played well but that injuries to key players at critical moments had affected his team?s chances.
He was proud of his girls and felt that the youngsters on his bench had stepped up under pressure. De Francseco stated that Macarthur was a good side and would certainly be there at the business end of the season. He complimented Adriana Cirjak, Lara Neilson and Alicia Cavanagh on their performances. He also advised that Rachel Jones had been taken to hospital with a neck injury. I?m sure we all wish Rachel well.
This was a great match, befitting the meeting of the top two teams on the ladder. Koalas were not disgraced in defeat but Macarthur looked championship material in the second half. I have a feeling that these two teams will be running into each other come finals time. With both sides bristling with talent their future clashes will be well worth looking forward to.
In other matches in the round Manly United, with goals from Neville and Van Weeren, proved too strong for Sutherland Sharks, winning 2-0 at Cromer Park. That?s three losses in a row for Sutherland and they?ll be hoping to get back into winning form quickly.
Things don?t get any easier for them next weekend though when they host the Marconi Stallions. The win does confirm the premiership credentials of Manly though ahead of their nig clash with NWS Koalas next weekend.
Marconi experienced some unexpected resistance from a much improved Central Coast Lightning but prevailed 2-1 at Marconi Stadium. Camilleri and Kimber scored for Marconi whilst Jennifer Tatum scored for Lightning.
The other Arrive Alive NSW Premier League fixture between Sydney University and Penrith Nepean United was washed out and will be played on a date to be fixed.
A great round of football but some mouth watering clashes await in Round 6
-By Ross Anderson