The top of the table has finally been determined after a pulsating final round of football in which four of the top five sides played each other. UNSW and Sydney Olympic both won their matches to move into second and third spot respectively, with the minor premiers Western NSW Mariners earning a week off in the first round of the finals.
Match of the Round
On a hot afternoon in Belmore, Lisa Mitchell’s first half strike was enough to earn Sydney Olympic a gutsy 1-0 win over Southern Districts, leapfrogging them to third on the ladder.
Sydney Olympic began with a bang, dominating possession during the opening ten minutes as Sophie Scott and Kalista Tsoupis got through a mountain of work in the midfield. After just five minutes, the home side had the first chance, with Kylie Manias’ long throw opening up space for Lisa Mitchell, who skied her shot after a clever run behind the defenders.
Four minutes later, a clever reverse pass on the edge of the eighteen yard box from Sophie Scott was finished by Danielle Calvi, but the linesman flagged for offside and the goal was disallowed. Unfazed, Olympic hit the lead just a few moments later through a Lisa Mitchell thunderbolt.
Collecting the ball in goal, Olympic goalkeeper Sarah Veli-Gold launched a long ball to her strikers. After Louise Howard mistimed her clearance, Lisa Mitchell pounced, controlling a bouncing ball with her head before crashing the ball home from 18 yards. It might have been route one football, but the classy finish showed “Mitchy’s” confidence in front of goal.
A goal up, Sydney Olympic were looking the stronger team by far, but as they are known to do, Southern Districts hung in, contesting every ball and making life difficult for their opponents. Olympic midfielder Sophie Scott was in tremendous touch, popping up all over the field in a inspirational first half display. The crafty number ten also had three chances in the space of ten minutes, but failed to find the target.
Ten minutes before the break, Lisa Mitchell sent a scare through the Sydney Olympic camp as she went down clutching her leg, but the brave striker battled on with a limp, determined not to let her side down.
On the stroke of half time, Natasha Portelli almost pulled Southern Districts level, but Sydney Olympic had their goalkeeper Sarah Veli-Gold to thank, who pushed Portelli’s shot over the bar from point blank range.
Notorious for their gutsy second half performances, Southern Districts lived up to their reputation in the second half, starting with far more confidence and dominating more of the possession in their opponents half.
Within the first five minutes of the second half, Kristy Rohrer and Sherie Bryant both tested the goalkeeper, while on 52 minutes Vanessa Ciabatti forced a great save out of Sarah Veli-Gold. And then on 60 minutes, Kristy Rohrer blasted just over the bar from thirty yards out.
With left-back Sylvia Elters forced to the bench, much of Southern Districts’ attacking play came down the right wing, with Kristy Rohrer drifting right to give herself more room to link up with Natasha Portelli and Sherie Bryant. However, with Sydney Olympic central defenders Kylie Manias and Kate Mitrevski patrolling the danger area superbly, Southern Districts were unable to find an equaliser.
There were a couple of chances to Lisa Mitchell before full time, and Kylie Manias performed a brilliant goal-saving tackle on Vanessa Ciabatti in the dying moments, but Sydney Olympic held on for a morale boosting win. It wasn’t a pretty way to finish the final game of the regular season, but the all-important result moves Olympic into third spot, while Southern Districts drop down to fifth position.
Elsewhere in the Competition
In Bankstown, the Lionesses went into cruise control, dominating their match at home against Mt Druitt Town Rangers. Star striker Samantha Muscat scored a double before Mt Druitt were awarded a penalty late into the second half, the match finishing 5-1 to Bankstown City.
In Bathurst, UNSW Lions defeated minor premiers Western NSW Mariners 1-0, which moves the eastern suburbs side level on 48 points with the Mariners, but second on the ladder according to goal difference. UNSW now face a tough match against Sydney Olympic next week.
In the ‘dead rubbers’ elsewhere in the competition, Southern Branch registered a 1-0 win over Nepean in Nowra, with Amy-Louise Clayton getting on the scoresheet, while St George beat APIA Leichhardt 3-0 at St George Stadium.
In the reserves, Bankstown City drew 2-2 with Mount Druitt Town, while Western NSW Mariners and APIA Leichhardt edged past UNSW and St George respectively. Sydney Olympic thumped Southern Districts 7-1, while Southern Branch put five unanswered goals past Nepean.