Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Super League Round 13 Review


The results have catapulted Southern NSW FC four points above the pack of chasers seeking fourth spot on the ladder. Will that break be enough to see the girls from Nowra into another finals series? The leading sides maintained their advantage atop the ladder with the Minor Premiership still being up for grabs as the Illawarra Stingrays and Western NSW Panthers continue their battle.
Our Match of the Day coverage this weekend was from the Gladesville Ravens versus Blacktown Spartans game at Peel Park. For those of you who haven?t been to The Ravens home ground let me fill you in on what you?re missing. A picturesque little ground set back from the road, surrounded by houses. A neat little club house, friendly people, a great place to watch football.
On paper The Ravens were deserved favourites for this encounter. The Gladesville girls sit safely in third spot on the table whilst Blacktown have struggled to make an impression in 2008. Thank heavens that games of football aren?t played on paper!
Let me pre-empt my report by saying that this match was probably the best game of football I?ve been to all season. That counts for the Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League as well! The football wasn?t always for the purists but both sides put in a mighty effort. There were patches of individual brilliance, moments of fine team play. Both sides played with passion, determination and, yes, a touch of good fortune as well. The two teams and their respective coaches should be congratulated on providing an entertaining spectacle for their supporters. Games like this one show why women?s football has so much to offer. If only a few other people would wake up to the fact!
Okay, so do I need to do a match report after that wrap? Well, yes, I guess so. Where will I start? I guess the beginning is as good a place as any.
Referee Anthony Cincotta blew his whistle to get play underway. The early skirmishes were evenly shared. It was seven minutes before the first meaningful shot of the match when Blacktown?s Rebecca Lane shot wide from distance. Both teams were showing enterprise in attack but The Ravens were playing with more combination. Blacktown were certainly enthusiastic enough but their passes were not finding the mark, consequently meaning that they were turning over the ball with regularity. Courtney Parrott was causing plenty of problems for The Spartans defence with her bustling runs from the right flank.
In the 12th minute Blacktown launched a strong attacking raid. Rebecca Lane, Erin Connell, Amanda Xuereb and Megan Teuma put together a fine interchange of passes before possession was lost on the edge of The Ravens 18 yard box. The Gladesville side broke from defence with Fatma Agar delivering a fine ball to Courtenay Parrott who cut into the area from the right, releasing a fine angled shot for the first goal. The Ravens have grabbed the early advantage.
This heralded a period where Gladesville looked likely to extend their lead. They were using the full expanse of the field, coming around the defence rather than through the centre of it. Great work by Spartans Captain Bronwyn Jarvis at sweeper was the only thing keeping Blacktown in the hunt.
Alyssa Hardie decided that she could have as much fun on the left flank as Parrott was having on the right and figured in a number of Ravens attacking raids. The lead up was coming together well but the finishing wasn?t quite to the same standard. Blacktown keeper Caitlyn Ursua was also doing her part in closing down the danger with some nice work in goal.
When Blacktown did push forward they struggled to hold possession. A streak of individual brilliance gave the hope. The busy Kellie Creiger pushed between defenders in the 26th minute, swung left and let loose with a shot which flew straight to Ravens keeper Claire Cherrington. Blacktown were also being well served by Amanda Xuereb who seemed to be in the play whenever The Spartans had the ball.
On the 29th minute mark Blacktown Coach Don Gomez replaced Kara Hocotity with Larissa Monkerud.
Successive corners to Gladesville were not well handled by Blacktown, including a goal line clearance in the 34th minute. It seemed like just a matter of time before The Ravens doubled their lead. But the next goal came at the other end of the field!
In the 40th minute Blacktown?s Larissa Monkerud took advantage of some indecision in the Gladesville defence. Monkerud battled hard to gain possession, ran down the right flank and shot at goal. Her powerful strike beat the keeper but hit the post, bouncing back to the feet of Blacktown?s Kellie Crieger who calmly slotted way the equaliser. Suddenly it?s a 1-1 scoreline and game on!
The final five minutes of the half saw both sides looking to build an opportunity. Right on half time a high ball into the Gladesville box again had the defence in two minds. The ball was knocked down to the feet of Amanda Xuereb who hit the ball sweetly with her right foot. Ravens keeper Cherrington pulled off a marvellous one handed save though to deny Blacktown and send her team to half time still on level terms with their opponents.
The 2nd half begins with Ravens Nicole Ridley heading over the cross bar from a corner. This is followed by a nice passing exchange by Ridley, Parrott and Hardie before the Blacktown defence closes down the attack.
After just five minutes of the half the Spartans call for the cavalry, replacing Kellie Creiger with Elif Albayrak and Zara Bate with Melissa Teuma. These replacements were to have a significant effect on Blacktown?s performance in the remainder of the game.
In the 55th minute Ashleigh Smith broke away down the left side of the field for Gladesville. Her cross/shot is knocked down by Spartans? keeper Ursua, falling at the feet of Fatma Agar who puts the chance away to give the locals a 2-1 lead. 
If you thought this was a signal for The Ravens to run away with the game then please think again. Wily Spartans Coach Don Gomez decided to change his formation, moving sweeper Bronwyn Jarvis into the forward line and playing with a flat three at the back. Suddenly Blacktown started to find some purpose in their work. Passes started to string together, deft little touches began to pay off and Blacktown surged forward. Paige Grant made some nice inroads on the left whilst Erin Connell and Larissa Monkerud ignited attacking rushes. Jarvis was causing headaches for The Ravens defenders, pushing between them to release a strong, low shot that was stopped by the keeper.
Gladesville had their occasional moments but most of these were coming as they broke from defence rather than sustained build up. Courtenay Parrott was prominent in many of these attacks. Blacktown were testing Claire Cherrington with some nice work, including a shot from a tight angle by Grant.
Elif Albayrak was certainly coming into her own as well as she was let loose by a number of fine passes by her team mates. One ball, by Erin Connell, set Albayrak on her way to the goal only to have her shot deflected by a Gladesville defender.
Connell was replaced in the 63rd minute by Nikki Crompton. At this point Ravens Coach Paul wade also opted to make a change, bringing on defender Michelle D?Souza to replace Fatma Agar. Obviously Wade felt that there were some gaps to be filled in an attempt to stem what appeared to be an overwhelming Blacktown tide. Ashley Hume also came into the game for Gladesville, taking the place of Eid Nasla.
In the 69th minute the sustained pressure finally tells on The Ravens defence. The Spartans pass well coming out of defence. Michelle Teuma puts through a long ball which finds Elif Albayrak bursting into the clear. Her initial shot is blocked by the keeper but the deflection is put away by the advancing Albayrak to make the score 2-2.
 The Spartans follow up this equaliser with some fine work by Bronwyn Jarvis who manufactures a shot for herself from close range which finds the keeper. I?m left wondering during this period of the match why Blacktown are so far down the table?
In the 74th minute a poor clearance by The Spartans is snatched by Courtenay Parrott. Melissa Teuma looks to have closed her down but Teuma loses her footing leaving Parrott the chance to break away and shoot. Keeper Ursua can?t hold the shot and the deflection hits one of her defenders, bouncing into the goal to give Gladesville a 3-2 lead.
The Spartans didn?t give up at this point. Some classy pieces of play by Captain Jarvis gave the Blacktown girls hope; a beautiful flicked header that puts her striker away, then a deft ball to Albayrak which leaves the young striker in a one on one situation with the Ravens keeper. Cherrington was up to the task though, deflecting the shot for a corner. Then Jarvis made a zig zagging run of her own into The Ravens area before releasing a shot which goes to the keeper. Jarvis was certainly putting on a class on football skills for everyone at the ground.
The Spartans tried everything to find another goal. However their final passes and shots at goal were not quite finding their mark. Blacktown looked the side most likely to score another goal but it didn?t work out that way. In the 86th minute that girl Parrott bobbed up again, dispossessing the defence before turning them inside out. Parrott ran to the by line, firing off what she later admitted may have been a cross, which is fumbled by the Blacktown keeper before bobbling over the line for a goal. Game, set and match for The Ravens!
After the match Ravens Coach Paul Wade admitted to being a relieved man. He also commented that, if he?d been a paying spectator, he?d have walked out the door very satisfied with the entertainment he?d got for his money. Wade wasn?t sure what the Blacktown Coach had done at half time but stated that The Spartans had looked a different side in the second stanza. Here?s a man who has played at the highest level, representing his country, captaining The Socceroos; but you can tell he?s enjoying working with his girls. He speaks about them like they?re all his daughters. Ahh, the emotional joys of coaching the fairer sex! Good on you Paul.
Blacktown?s Don Gomez was rightly proud of his team?s effort. He wishes that his side was a little more disciplined. He comments that they need to be more consistent in getting to training. Gomez is especially happy with the performances of both Bronwyn Jarvis and Christie Simpson. Don feels his girls may have been a touch unlucky to lose this one. I?m sure he?ll be back on the sideline next week though, trying to engineer a win for The Spartans.
Please boss, can you send me to more games like this?
Gladesville Ravens   4 (C.Parrott 2, F.Agar, own goal)
Blacktown Spartans 2 (E.Albayrak, K.Greiger)
Other matches in this round appeared to go according to the form book.
Illawarra Stingrays had a comfortable 7-1 win over UNSW. Now the numbers stack up a lot better in this match than they did in the first round meeting for UNSW. However, they were outclassed by the Illawarra girls who were 4-0 up by half time. The magical Michelle Carney contributed her usual brace, as did Jessica Cooper who opened the scoring in the 5th minute. Michael and Heyman also scored with the very hospitable UNSW girls putting in an own goal just to help their visitors build up that for and against tally. UNSW did manage a last minute strike of their own though through Smith; a goal I?m sure they?d have been very thrilled to put past one of the competition favourites.
Illawarra continue to show why so many other teams in the league nominate them as the tam to beat for the title.
UNSW                       1 (A.Smith)
Illawarra Stingrays 7 (M.Carney 2, J.Cooper 2, M Heyman, M.Michael, own goal)
Southern NSW FC kept up their charge into semi final contention with a comfortable 5-1 win over an under strength Northern Tigers at Ison Park.
The girl with the Golden Boot, Katie French, opened the scoring for the locals in only the fourth minute. Georgie Eastoe replied five minutes later for The Tigers but that was the last glimpse of hope the visitors were given. It was only 2-1 at half time after Meehan had added a second for Southern in the 17th minute. In the second half, however, Southern NSW pulled away with goals by Hay (59m, 88m) and Cobb (61m).
This win pushes Southern NSW four points clear of the fifth placed side on the table. I?m sure they?ll be looking forward to the local derby in a couple of week?s time with their sisters from Illawarra. That will be a game worth travelling to see.
Southern NSW FC  5 (K.French, K.Meehan, T.Hay 2, E.Cobb)
Northern Tigers      1 (G.Eastoe)
The competition leaders, Western NSW Panthers scored one goal in each half to see of the St George side 2-0 in Bathurst.
Ashlieigh Sykes opened the scoring for the table toppers in the 40th minute. Erin Markwick then doubled the advantage for The Panthers in the 65th minute. St George put up a creditable effort but these close games are ones that The Panthers always seem to win.
It?s certainly a dent to St George?s final hopes. Six rounds to go, four points out of the four. Can they get there?
Western NSW Panthers 2 (A.Sykes, E.Markwick)
St George FC                   0
The final game of the round saw Bankstown Wildcats and Inter Lions fight out a scorless draw. The Wildcats were coming off a catch up game win over Blacktown earlier in the week. Neither side could break the deadlock here though they both tried their best!
Again, this wasn?t a result that did the semi final chances of either side any good.
Bankstown Wildcats 0
Inter Lions                 0
The Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Super League girls now have a break until July 13th as next weekend sees the National Titles underway. Having missed last week?s round due to the Socceroos game I?m not sure that the girls will be thrilled to endure another break but their batteries will certainly be recharged for the series of battles commencing in a fortnight?s time.
-By Ross Anderson