I?d like to start this week?s Arrive Alive NSW Women?s Premier League review by thanking Rocky Sculli. Who the hell is Rocky Sculli I hear you ask?
Well, Rocky plays for the Chipping Norton Soccer Club Under 13/2?s. Unfortunately Rocky had his arm broken in two places today whilst playing in a match at Chipping Norton?s home ground, South Park.
Being at the park in my guise as club president I waited for the ambulance to arrive and cart Rocky away, meaning that I was not going to get to Cromer Park in time to report on the Manly United FC v Penrith Nepean United match. Therefore, I wandered off to ELS Hall Park to watch the competition leaders, NWS Koalas, play my little favourites, the Sutherland Sharks. The Manly v Penrith game ended up being washed out by this afternoon?s freak storm. Boy that would have been a long trip from Liverpool for nothing!
Okay, now you know who Rocky Sculli is. Hope you?re feeling better by the way Rocky.
It seems that whenever I go to ELS Hall Park a storm soon follows. Fortunately, unlike at various other venues in both the WPL and WSL today, this game survived the tempest.
On paper this didn?t look like being a close encounter. Top of the table against the team next to bottom doesn?t seem too enthralling. However, Sutherland, despite their lowly position on the ladder, rarely cop a hiding. The Koalas, though they?re leading the competition, rarely seem to hand out a thrashing. So, what did these two sides have in store for us today?
At this point I?d like to digress slightly by mentioning that I?d never met an attractive referee before. As the majority of the referees I come across are fairly average looking blokes it was nice to meet Ariane Nemovir, who managed to keep herself pretty busy as the day progressed. Oh, and her linespeople Kim Stephenson and Monique Welch were lovely too!
Okay, okay, so you want the football report. Boy you people are impatient!
The Koalas started the game as if they had visions of improving their for and against tally by quite some margin. They launched wave after wave of well orchestrated attack but couldn?t finish the impressive build up with a telling strike. Sanaa Hawkins was a busy contributor in these opening forays but The Koalas as a team looked on their game.
Katie Hilder and Danni Calvi had obviously been watching the NRL in the last week or so, indulging in a bit of handbags at five paces early on. No damage done and, once the dust had settled, the girls got back to work.
In the 18th minute a penalty was awarded to The Koalas after Calvi was upended in the 18 yard box. Up stepped Rachel Doyle who calmly slotted away the place kick to put the home side up 1-0.
The Koalas continued to dominate territorially with Alicia Cavanagh becoming more prominent. She combined well with Cirjak and Neilson to conjure up a shot which cleared the bar, the fence and, I think, Lane Cove Road.
In the 29th minute The Koalas doubled their lead when Anna McLean pounced on a ball inside the penalty area to add to her goal tally for 2008. At 2-0 Koalas it looked like along afternoon ahead for the struggling Sharks.
Soon after Katerina Craft picked up a yellow card from referee Nemovir for an over zealous tackle on Jenna Flight. Meanwhile Sutherland?s Maggie Elhusseini was working tirelessly trying to spark her team into action. Elhusseini has certainly proven to be one of Sutherland?s most consistent players throughout the season.
At this stage the skies went dark, the heavens opened, the temperature dropped about 10 degrees and lightning flashed around the ground. Oh, and I forgot the hail! Was this the end of the world coming after last week?s World Youth Day? No, but it was enough to have the referee suspend play in the hope that the storm would pass.
I?d like to thank Sutherland?s own Miss Congeniality, Adriana Micheal, for keeping me amused during the weather break. Her idea for a WPL Player?s Dating Service, run through the Football NSW website, has plenty of merit. I?m not sure, however, that the powers that be will go for it. Keep those ideas coming though Adriana. Is it any wonder I have such a soft spot for The Sharks team?
After a reasonable amount of deliberation, a few more claps of thunder, an optional flash of lightning and a short lived discussion on whether or not a referee would look like a roman candle if hit by lightning referee Memovir decided that conditions were safe to restart the game.
Ah, but the weather break certainly brought a difference to this game. The playing surface became quite slippery underfoot. This made the players a little tentative, slowing the pace of the game somewhat. The Koalas continued to create the better opportunities but Sutherland were now able to play themselves into the game.
Anna McLean came was busy during the second half as The Koalas played down her right flank on a number of occasions. Danni Calvi also came into her own; creating a number of scoring opportunities. Alicia Cavanagh was also in the thick of the action; it looked likely that The Koalas would add to their advantage at any time. However, the Sharks managed to keep them at bay through a combination of good luck, good defence and brave goalkeeping.
Sutherland themselves began to string some passes together. Elhusseini released Katie Hilder who made a great run deep into Koalas territory. As she worked her way through traffic in front of goal she set up Jodi Todd who was unable to connect with any real power. Elhusseini also set up Shellee Gibson for a shot in this period but the ball flew straight to Koalas keeper Anne Rutlidge.
Danni Calvi then tested the Sutherland keeper, Carlie Dreves , with a shot from the edge of the box. Dreves stopped the ball with her feet which caused a rebound back towards the oncoming attacking players. The resulting shot from Koalas went high over the bar. Spirovski and Hawkins then combined to create a chance which Hawkins headed over the bar. Spirovski also managed to hit the cross bar with a shot which rebounded into keeper Dreve?s hands.
Calvi for Koalas and Todd for Sutherland both showed flashes of brilliance but neither side could find that final touch to keep the scorer busy. Both sides tried a few changes but none brought the desired result with the game ending up in a deserved 2-0 win to The Koalas.
Koalas Coach Claude De Francesco was happy with his side?s performance. He felt that his girls had been ?off the boil? in the last few weeks but that their opening half hour in this game showed they were back on track. Whilst the ground was dry Claude felt that his side had been intense, incisive and playing good football. The conditions after the rain, however, were not conducive to the same style of play.
Sutherland Captain Jodie Todd was happy with the way her team had played in the second half. Todd felt that Sutherland had been unfortunate not to snare a goal. ?Koalas played really well? said Todd. She also complimented team mate Jenna Flight on her mighty slide through the mud which won her the team?s ?Dirty Shirt Award? for the week.
The weather changed this game, possibly saving Sutherland from enduring a very trying afternoon. The better side won the day but I reckon both teams would have been happy to walk away without any injuries from the slippery conditions.
NWS Koalas 2 (R.Doyle, A.McLean)
Sutherland Sharks 0
In other matches Macarthur Rams gave Central Coast Lightning a torrid afternoon with a 7-0 thrashing at Lynwood Park.
The Rams were up 4-0 by half time with Stephanie Haim snaring a first half hat trick to go with a goal from ?The Enforcer? Danielle Brogan. Haim made it four of her own with a second half addition along with a second goal by Brogan and a 59th minute strike to Sigrid Manty. A great day out for the Macarthur girls, but another disappointing match for Central Coast. Relegation is not an attractive proposition for an area of the state where football appears to be thriving. Let?s hope that The Lightning bounce back strongly in the next twelve months.
Macarthur Rams 7 (S.Haim 4, D.Brogan 2, S.Manty)
Central Coast Lightning 0
Marconi Stallions moved into third place on the ladder with a convincing 3-1 win over Sydney University. A first half brace from Trudy Camilleri set The Stallions on their way before Laura Smiles added a third for the visitors at the 54th minute mark. University managed a face saving goal in the dying minutes to McBeath but the bird had well and truly flown.
The Stallions meet Penrith Nepean United next week. Penrith had both their weekend games against Sydney University and Manly United FC washed out. An even busier schedule now awaits the Penrith girls. If they do sneak into the finals they?ll certainly have earnt their place.
Sydney University 1 (H.McBeath)
Marconi Stallions 3 (T.Camilleri 2, L.Smiles)
Okay, the cloud remains over the final place in the top four. Manly have a five point advantage over Penrith but the latter have two games in hand. The Minor Premiership remains open though NWS Koalas have the fate of that one in their own hands, holding a four point lead over their chasers, The Rams. The Club Championship also looks a two team race with The Koalas and Stallions battling it to the line.
Four rounds to go and plenty to play for.
-By Ross Anderson