Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League Round 9 Review


The other two games certainly had a bearing too with top playing bottom on the ladder and a side in crisis meeting one on the rise.
Match of the Day status was a toss up between the Macarthur Rams v Penrith Nepean United match up and the Many United FC v Marconi Stallions clash. I dutifully trotted off to sunny Campbelltown rather than picturesque Manly and, though the scorelines suggest I may have missed something at Cromer Park I wasn?t disappointed with what I witnessed in Sydney?s south west.
Defending champions Macarthur were coming off a defeat at the hands of Marconi last weekend. With plenty of injury concerns plus the loss of inspirational playmaker Kylie Ledbrook through suspension the locals had reason to feel a trifle nervous about this game. Penrith have been in quite good from but had played a mid week catch up game in which they were beaten 2-4 by Manly United. Not a good draw to be meeting two of the competition?s most physical teams inside five days! 
I?d just bought my sausage sandwich, settled into my chair and sharpened my pencil when the opening moments of the match brought its first critical moment. Rams Claire Walsh had made a run into the Penrith penalty area only to be brought down in an ungainly tackle. Referee Stephanie Stanyer had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Rams sharpshooter Stephanie Haim stepped up to calmly pot the place kick and, just like that, it was 1-0 to The Rams after only two minutes of play.
Not exactly the start that Penrith were looking for but they tried to hit back through a nice run down the right by Rio Fleming. Her shot at goal, despite crossing the goal mouth and beating the keeper, rolled wide. Both sides were working hard to sort the other out but loose final passes were causing attacking movements to break down.
Rams Lauren Ralston and Linda Dudek were prominent in these early exchanges. Penrith were battling to ease the pressure on their defence as The Rams held superior field position. Renee Cartwright released Nicole Winley to shoot wide of goal before Linda Dudek received the ball on the edge of the Penrith penalty box before being dispossessed, as she was about to pull the trigger, by Penrith?s Nicki Laws.
Penrith?s player/coach Taryn Rockall was orchestrating play from midfield. Penrith?s best chances at this stage were coming on the break. Emma Stewart made a nice run for Penrith before shooting wide.
After 18minutes Macarthur suffered a body blow when Renee Cartwright succumbed to the injury which had kept her out of The Rams line up for the last few weeks. Her replacement, Leila Braimah, put Stephanie Haim away with her first touch of the ball only to see Haim shoot over the bar. Things were slowly starting to change though. Penrith were becoming more dominant as they took control in midfield. Tompkins, Stewart, Fleming and Rockall were combining well to build pressure on The Rams defence.
Penrith then stole the ball from Braimah on half way with Rockall breaking clear before laying off to Stewart. The usually reliable Penrith striker?s shot is a poor one though. In the 29th minute Rockall puts a great ball into the Macarthur box, once again finding Stewart who is unable to connect for a shot. Two minutes later Rockall is at it again, combining with Stewart who presents Joanne Saliba with an opportunity. Saliba?s deflected shot is held by Rams keeper Monique Jackson. Rockall?s brilliant service is providing plenty of chances but the Penrith side is unable to convert any of them into goals. Penrith have taken control of the match as Rams struggle to hold them at bay.
Rockall then lays a pass on for Ellie Stott who shoots wide of a diving Jackson in the Macarthur goal. Penrith look much more composed across the park now. The Rams defence is proving equal to the task though. In the 40th minute Fleming lines up from distance for Penrith but her shot flies over the bar. Soon after, Stewart turns on the edge of the box for Penrith. Her shot is a good one but goes straight to the keeper. Saliba lays off a ball to the busy Rockall who battles past two Rams defenders before shooting to keeper Jackson.
The half ends with Penrith continuing to attack but without reward. Macarthur appear somewhat fortunate to head to the sheds with a 1-0 half time lead.
At the break Macarthur substitute Nicole Winley with Sarah Hogg. An early Penrith free kick puts more pressure on The Rams defence but the resulting corner has Rockall heading wide. In the 50th minute, Stott breaks from defence before linking with Hayley Abbott. Abbott puts a great ball through to Saliba who is closed down by the defence in fine style.
Penrith is playing with plenty of width and movement. Macarthur?s only opportunities seem to be coming on the break as Penrith press forward to find the equaliser. Dudek gets one such chance for Rams but shoots straight to Penrith keeper Natalie Camilleri. Saliba and Fleming are combining well for Penrith but a series of crosses and shots bring little joy for the visitors.
Penrith seem to be in control. A levelling goal appears to be just a matter of time in coming to fruition. BUT? the 70th minute Macarthur?s Annalise Baker puts a nice ball through for Sarah Hogg. Hogg?s run is brought to a halt in a crunching tackle by defender Nicki Laws. Hmm, is that a whistle I hear? Free kick to The Rams on the edge of the Penrith penalty area! Stephanie Haim steps up for another dead ball situation. Her shot curls and hits the post. The Penrith keeper attempts to tap the rebounding ball away but it falls in the direction of the charging Rams attackers. Lauren Ralston gets enough on the ball to put it across the line and yes, despite all Penrith?s dominance, their now down 2-0 on the scoreboard.
The Rams now surge with a distance shot by Haim testing the keeper. Penrith reply with a cracking shot on the turn from Stewart which is acrobatically tipped over the bar by a leaping Jackson. Soon after Penrith replace Joanne Saliba with Justine Vella. Penrith?s forays forward are frequent but they are creating few meaningful shots at goal.
Dudek earns herself a yellow card in the 85th minute when kicking the ball away after an offside call. Braimah shoots for Macarthur but her effort goes wide. The Rams are getting in behind Penrith on occasions as United push forward in search of a goal. Macarthur?s Haim is causing problems. She wins a corner but the kick is cleared from defence by Penrith?s Stewart who charges up field. The Rams defence is equal to the task again though, closing her down as she gets to the 18 yard box.
In the 87th minute Rams replace Samantha Donaldson with Roison Armstrong.
The two teams trade opportunities in the closing moments but to no avail. Rams are up 2-0 at the final whistle.
Macarthur?s stand in Coach Matt Turvey expressed satisfaction with his side?s effort after a slow start. He feels that his girls have finished the game off strongly, praising his back three. He singles out Captain Danielle Brogan and Stephanie Haim for special mention.
Penrith player/coach Taryn Rockall is obviously disappointed. She feels that her side have battled well. ?Our movement was good but we just couldn?t get that final ball?. Rockall felt that her team had 90% of the game but didn?t convert their chances. She laments that two dead ball situations have cost her team so dearly, feeling that they have claims to being unlucky.
Like many champion sides Macarthur have come through in the face of adversity. Luck seems to follow such teams; but then maybe that good fortune comes from plenty of hard work and determination. Penrith certainly did make most of the running in this game but failed to take advantage of their dominance. A tough week for Penrith but they?ve proven very competitive in both their matches.
Macarthur Rams   2 (S.Haim, L.Ralston)
Penrith United FC 0
The Manly United/Marconi Stallions clash proved to be a humdinger. The two sides traded nine goals after Marconi opened the scoring in just the 2nd minute through Aysa Adalis. Van Weeren stabilised for Manly with an equaliser in the 12th minute before Nicole Kimber put the visitors back in front with a reply in the 15th minute. O?Riordan grabbed a third for Marconi 12 minutes later and The Stallions were looking good. But six minutes before half time Van Weeren scored her second to send the two teams to the break with Marconi holding a 3-2 lead.
If the scoreboard attendant had trouble keeping pace with the goal scoring in the first half his/her job certainly didn?t get any easier in the second stanza. This time though it was only one side boosting their scoreline as Manly ran away with the match. The Seasiders came up with four unanswered goals in this half with Jarvie (42m), Hensman (51/82m) and Neville (60m) putting The Stallions to the sword. I don?t know if the visitors had their half time drinks spiked or what but they certainly couldn?t match their hosts in that second half.
A great week for Manly with two solid wins, plenty of goals, and a secure fourth spot on the ladder. Not so good for The Stallions having shared pints with Sydney University mid week before this loss. Some homework to do for the girls from Bossley Park?
Manly United FC 6 (H.Van Weeren 2, K.Hensman 2, C.Jarvie, L.Neville)
Marconi Stallions 3 (A.Adalis, N.Kimber, P.O?Riordan)
In the third match competition leaders NWS Koalas overcame an early shock from Central Coast Lightning to post a 3-1 win. Lightning?s Kirstyn Pearce, last weekend?s goal scoring hero in the win over Sutherland, shot her team into the lead after only nine minutes. Was there a huge upset on the cards?
The NWS Koalas machine took some time to get the engine warmed up but, by half time, goals from Leonore Carr and Alicia Cavanagh had restored any bruised pride. A third goal straight after the break to Koalas Anna Mclean completed the scoring.
Central Coast put in a game performance but Koalas were just too good on the day. The Koalas retain top spot on the ladder and must be confident of more points in next week?s game with the out of sorts Sutherland Sharks.
NWS Koalas                     3 (L.Carr, A.Cavanagh, A.McLean)
Central Coast Lightning 1 (K.Pearce)
Finally, Sydney University travelled to Sutherland brimful of confidence after grabbing a draw with top four side Marconi in a mid week catch up game. Confidence is something in short supply in Sharks? territory right now after an ongoing sequence of losses starting in round three of the competition.
Things got no better for Sutherland here either as a 38th minute strike by University?s Koncurat was enough to separate the two sides at full time. I?ve stopped counting how many losses in a row that is for the shire girls but a meeting with the competition leaders next weekend is not something they?ll be savouring. University, however, will be happy with only their second win of the season in what?s proven a very positive few days for the team. They meet Marconi for a rematch of Wednesday night?s clash this coming Sunday.
A strong round, with plenty of goals and lots of talking points. Manly now charge into the top four with a vengeance. The Koalas and The Rams grab a break on Marconi. A few teams have stalled and the top four now threaten to break away. What awaits us in the coming weeks? Stay tuned to keep up with the action in the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League.
-By Ross Anderson