In the Womens State League, the top five is effectively sorted, with only the composition of the finals yet to be determined. Bankstown played themselves back into form against Southern Districts Emeralds, while Western NSW Mariners won on the road against APIA Leichhardt to secure their spot as minor premiers.
Match of the Round
Southern Districts Emeralds 0-1 Bankstown City. Ernie Smith Reserve, 3pm.
On a warm afternoon in Moorebank, a single goal to Samantha Muscat was enough for Bankstown City to register an all-important win on the road against Southern Districts Emeralds.
Starting in their usual 4-3-3 formation with Liana Babic, Maniso Michael and Amy Dahdah in the midfield, Bankstown dominated possession early on, moving the ball quickly and using the full width of the field. Last week Bankstown struggled in this area against UNSW, but with the return of Liana Babic and Tijana Cerro – two of the best passers in the competition – Bankstown’s play was far more fluid.
Playing a high defensive line, Southern Districts were punished early by Sam Muscat. In the vertical red and black stripes, Muscat resembled a female Filippo Inzaghi, lurking off the shoulder of the last defender and constantly making darting runs into space. On 7 minutes, a beautiful long pass from centre-back Tijana Cerro to Muscat beat the offside trap, and Bankstown’s speedy number 21 made no mistake, calmly slotting the ball past the onrushing keeper.
It was the perfect start for the visitors, who needed a win to make sure of their spot in the top five. However, Southern Districts are the comeback specialists of the Womens State League, and they lifted their game instantly. Apart from a couple of darting runs in behind the line from Muscat, Bankstown were unable to create many chances after their early goal.
Still, it took 25 minutes for the home side to create a clear cut chance for themselves. Abid Awad’s dangerous cross was unable to be cleared by Bankstown goalkeeper Amanda Horafios, but with the goal at her mercy, Vanessa Ciabatti skied her shot from close range. It was a golden opportunity to pull one back against the run of play, and with attackers Kristy Rohrer and Sherie Bryant having to drop deeper to defend, a goal would have come as a nice relief for the home side.
At the other end, Sam Muscat continued to trouble centre backs Louise Howard and Amy Bowyer, and before half time she broke through on goal twice, but couldn’t add to her tally. On the stroke of halftime, Maniso Michael waltzed past three defenders in the penalty box, but shot straight at the keeper.
The second half started totally the opposite from the first, with Bankstown losing their rhythm and Southern Districts starting to build their own attacks. Ashleigh Danielson and Kaytlin Craig began to dominate more of the ball, and Kristy Rohrer and Natasha Portelli combined well down the right flank. There were several chances for Rohrer, Ciabatti and Craig, but nobody could find an equaliser.
As the game wore on, the tension was evident amongst Bankstown players. The last twenty minutes are where Southern Districts usually hurt their opponents, and a comeback was looming. On 84 minutes Kristy Rohrer created space for herself down the right wing before whipping a dangerous ball across the penalty box. However, with the goal at her mercy, Vanessa Ciabatti was unable to get her head on the end of it, and the chance went begging.
There was one last chance for Southern Districts in the dying moments, as Horafios inexplicably fumbled the ball out for a corner. But she made up for her mistake with two consecutive saves, and Bankstown scraped home.
Elsewhere in the Competition
In Nowra, Parramatta Ladyhawks were too strong for Southern Branch, with regular goal-scorers Sarah Mason Trybel, Alix Waddel and Alix Roberts all getting on the scoresheet. Theoretically the Ladyhawks are still in the running for fifth spot, however they’ll have to win their final two matches and hope that UNSW fails to register a point from their final three, a situation which seems very unlikely.
At Valentines Sports Park, Western NSW secured their spot at the top of the ladder, scraping past APIA Leichhardt thanks to a second half goal by Megan Embleton. In Mt Druitt, Townies put three past local rivals Nepean, with Brooke Conroy, Taryn Rockall and Brianna Trigg all on the scoresheet for the home side.
In Daceyville, UNSW beat Sydney Olympic for the second time in two outings this season. However, UNSW were relying on APIA to cause an upset against Western NSW Mariners in order to give them a glimpse of top spot, but with the Mariners taking all three points away from home, their hopes were dashed. With three games still left to play in the next seven days,the eastern suburbs side has a good chance of finishing second.
In the reserves, there were close victories for Parramatta Ladyhawks, Western NSW Mariners and UNSW, while Mt Druitt and Bankstown both won comfortably against Nepean and Southern Districts respectively.