Arrive Alive Women?s Super League Round 3 Review


All matches went ahead as scheduled and, whilst some slippery conditions prevailed at a number of grounds, the players dealt admirably with the cards they were dealt.
Your intrepid reporter decided on a nice drive to the picturesque Parklands Oval to watch the Northern Tigers v Western NSW Panthers match. The field conditions, after an earlier downpour, were somewhat messy with the cricket pitch are in the centre of the park proving tough for even the nimblest of steppers to negotiate. Nonetheless, both sides did their best to provide a spectacle for the small crowd which included local canine celebrity ?Tiger?. Tiger lives somewhere near Parklands Oval, making an appearance every week when he/she hears the games on at the park. Tiger patrols the sideline area, chasing after any ball that?s kicked out whilst trying hard to stay out of the linespersons way. Obviously Tiger is a hard core Northern Tigers fan. He/She is well behaved though, having never bitten any visiting player or spectator. This dog is a good sport!
The Northern Tigers had battled to cobble together a side for 1st grade with a number of injury problems leading to absentees from their squad. Despite many players actually backing up from the Reserve Grade match The Tigers started with plenty of enthusiasm. Rachael Lewis made significant inroads down the right side of the field with her first attacking thrust leading to Alice Wilson slotting away a goal after the Panthers keeper mishandled a cross.
The Tigers managed to conjure up a similar scenario twice in the next five minutes as the girls from Bathurst struggled to find their feet. However, outside of Wilson?s opening goal, The Tigers failed to capitalise on these opportunities. This would be something that would come back to haunt the locals later in the game.
It was almost ten minutes in before The Panthers raised their first worthwhile attack. Captain Gillian Rosconi made a fine run down the right flank before firing in a pinpoint cross which found an unmarked Olivia Bird in front of goal. However, the chance went begging when Bird shot wide of goal.
This attack did create some momentum for The Panthers however. They soon started to string passes together that made them look capable of unlocking the Tigers defence.
In the 17th minute a nicely weighted through ball saw Rosconi race into the clear. Her sublime strike beat the despairing dive of The Tigers keeper to put the match on a level footing. Rosconi was certainly proving a thorn in the side of the Tigers defence, creating further opportunities which required last ditch defence or goalkeeping heroics from the locals to keep the scoreboard at level pegging.
On the 30 minute mark, however, a great cross by Western Panthers Jade Braun found an unmarked Lauren Dduszko whose strike put The Panthers in front.
The youthful effervescence of The Tigers team put them straight back into attack from the kick off but, as was to be the case throughout the game, the girls just could not turn their chances into goals. Whenever Northern Tigers attacked down the right flank Rachael Lewis?s pace troubled the Western Panthers defence. This continued to present the locals best opportunities to rouse the scoreboard attendant but the finishing left something to be desired.
Lewis tried to do it all herself just prior to half time as she got in behind the defence and raced towards goal, However, the Panthers defence were equal to the task, clearing the ball before Lewis could get way her shot. Rosconi replied at the other end of the park with another nice run before firing a shot across the face of goal.
This brought the first half to an end with The Panthers holding a 2-1 win at oranges.
The second stanza started in similar fashion to the first with Georgie Eastoe doing the hard yards for The Tigers before crossing the ball into the 18 yard box. Once again The Tigers weren?t able to gain anything tangible from the attack. Almost immediately the Bathurst girls broke back with Olivia Bird racing away from halfway but her shot was well held by Tigers keeper Micaela Borger.  Soon after, Gillian Rosconi advanced on goal. She looked certain to score but for Borger sticking out her left hand to knock down the shot at goal. The Panthers were certainly looking the team more likely to score at this stage.
It must be said that for the next 20 minutes the game became something of an arm wrestle. The mud patch gained some dominance and neither side seemed able to create a credible opportunity. With both sides unwilling to take a backward step the game got quite physical, though not in a distasteful sense. The players were throwing themselves into tackles, sparring for 50/50 balls and injuries became a prevalent factor in the game. The Tigers seemed to be coming off worst in this regard with defender Maree Van Der Wielen being a significant casualty. The game ebbed and flowed with neither side being able to land the telling blow. However, in the 80th minute, a speculative ball from the left by Shannon Waine found the ever present Gillian Rosconi in front of goal. Rosconi only needed to get a touch to put the ball into the back of the net and seal the three points for The Panthers.
The Tigers never gave up the fight though, battling through the closing moments in a desperate attempt to get a goal back. However, the Western NSW girls were up to the task, running our 3-1 winners.
Panthers Coach Paul Waine was pleased to come away with the points. He said that he thought the 3-1 scoreline flattered his team somewhat. Waine commented on the trying conditions and said that it was a game that could have been decided on a bounce of the ball here or there.
Northern Tigers Coach Brendan Dalton also commented on the difficult conditions. He felt that the bounce of the ball had favoured The Panthers. Dalton was proud that his depleted squad had put in an enthusiastic effort; noting that, with a touch of luck, they could have had three goals in the opening five minutes. The girls had dug deep and never given up Dalton said.
This match had some exciting moments. However, the conditions made it very difficult for both sides to play pretty football. Their respective chances in 2009 are hard to gauge from this particular match. The panthers face a big test at home next weekend when they meet the competition leaders, Inter Lions. The Tigers have a tough assignment in Nowra when they come up against Southern NSW FC. We know more about what these two sides have to offer after those matches.
Northern Tigers               1 (A. Wilson 2m)
Western NSW Panthers 3 (G.Rosconi (17m/80m), J.Baun 27m)
In Nowra Southern NSW FC grabbed their first points of the season with a convincing 4-1 win over St George FC. Southern NSW started brightly but weren?t able to turn their early chances into goals. The St George keeper was kept decidedly busy but it was not until the 42nd minute that Katie French was able to open the scoring after intercepting a pass by the St George defence and chipping the keeper. The second goal was not so long in coming when, within two minutes of the locals opening the scoring, they were awarded a penalty after a St George player handled the ball in the box. Melanie Armitage stepped up, Stephen Gerrard like, to slot away the place kick that gave her side a 2-0 half time lead.
After the break Katie French latched on to a Lisa Stockman corner to head in Southern?s third goal. St George player Browning kept the Southern defence on its toes with many enterprising runs before finally being rewarded for her efforts with a goal in the 60th minute. St George revved up their motors from here in an effort to get back into the game Bronte Copeland put the game beyond doubt in the 68th minute, tapping away an error from the St George defence after an Emma Cobb cross.
Methinks that, now Southern NSW has tasted the spoils of victory, they may start climbing the table. This was a performance that should make other WSL teams wary.
Southern NSW FC 4 (K.French 42m/47m, M.Armitage 44m, B.Copeland 68m)
St George FC          1 (R.Browning 60m)
At Ron Routley Oval the Inter Lions juggernaut continued on its winning way with a crushing 7-0 win over Blacktown Spartans.
The scoreline wasn?t so much a reflection of The Spartans standard but rather their opponents being completely dominant. But for some brilliance by their keeper, Sarah Gaides, the damage may have been much worse for The Spartans.
It took the rejuvenated Catherine Cannuli only six minutes to open the scoring. Within two minutes Elysse Goss had doubled the Lions lead. Despite numerous further opportunities the Inter girls couldn?t trouble the scoreboard attendant again before half time. However, after the break, The Lions moved into top gear, scoring 5 unanswered second half goals. Dani Calvi is obviously enjoying the chance of being a starter at Concord, helping herself to a hat trick with goals in the 51st, 60th and 82nd minutes. Claire Tyson in the 61st minute and Renee Tomkins in the 87th minute rounded out the scoring for the local girls in a five star performance.
If Inter keep up this sort of football they?ll scoop the pool in the Arrive Alive Women?s Super League this season. All the Lions off season acquisitions, such as Clavi, Spirovski and Tomkins to name a few, are firing and are only likely to get better. There aren?t too many sides who can match The Lions in this form. Coach Joe Baldacci is still smiling and smoking large cigars. Is there a team out there who can put him back on plain cigarettes?
Blacktown will get better results than this but today was a harsh lesson in reality for their side.
Inter Lions                   7 (D.Calvi 51m/69m/82m, C.Cannuli 6m, E. Goss 8m, C.Tyson 61m, R.Tomkins 87m)
Blacktown Spartans  0
PCYC Lady Hawks finally got their season underway, and with a bang scoring what many would see as an upset win over Gladesville Ravens.
After a scoreless first half, Gladesville took the lead five minutes after the break with a goal to Ashleigh Smith. Rather than deflate the Lady Hawks they came to life with an equaliser to Pringle in the 65th minute being followed by a much celebrated winner by Ryanhart in the 75th minute.
This is just the sort of start the new club would have dreamed of. Three points from their first match after an heroic comeback. Good stuff PCYC!
The Ravens will be wondering just where things went wrong as this appeared a match where they were justified to favouritism. However, short odds don?t make you a winner so it?s back to the drawing board for Gladesville before next week?s match with Central Coast Lightning.
PCYC Lady Hawks   2 (D.Pringle 65m, G.Ryanhart 75m)
Gladesville Ravens 1 (A.Smith 50m) 
The final match of the round saw Sydney Tigers travel up the F3 to do battle with the Central Coast Lightning. Both sides had shown good early season form and this promised to be an absorbing game of football.
The game started brightly with the two teams playing some good football. However it was the Sydney Tigers who grabbed the lead in the 38th minute when Hayley Murray scored. The game remained delicately poised until the 62nd minute when Alicia Cavanagh banged in the first of her brace to extend the lead to 2-0. Cavanagh?s second goal, in the 70th minute, put the game beyond doubt.
These two sides will both be in the thick of things come finals time. The Tigers seem to be improving with each outing. They are certainly a side worth keeping an eye on.
Central Coast Lightning 0
Sydney Tigers                  3 (A.Cavanagh 62m/70m, H.Murray 38m) 
Despite the weather our ten Arrive Alive Women?s Super League sides provided us with some fine football. The best may be yet to come with a few teams but next weeks blockbuster between Western NSW Panthers and Inter Lions should provide a few answers regarding premiership credentials.
I?ll see you in the stands in the coming weeks.
-By Ross Anderson