Southern Branch pulled off the biggest result of the season in round 15 as they inflicted a first defeat of the season on the Marconi Stallions.
Elsewhere, Nepean continued their excellent form by overcoming Sutherland, and UNSW gained a point no one expected at Sydney Olympic.
In the match of the round a ruthless Inter Lions side were too much for the Northern Tigers.
Match of the round: Inter Lions SC v Northern Tigers FC, 3pm Sunday 5th July at Concord Oval
Inter Lions pulled off a marvellous 3-0 victory over the Northern Tigers at Concord Oval. The Tigers dominated 90% of this match, and will be sorely disappointed to be on the receiving end of such a comprehensive score line.
The opening 10 minutes saw both sides show their hand, as the Tigers continually looked to build play through their midfield, and the Lions would look to pounce on lapses in possession to launch quick counter attacks.
After a cagey start, the Tigers began to gain control of the game, launching wave after wave of attack at the Lions. Inter couldn’t get their press going to the level that they aspired to, and as a result the Tigers were able to play simple balls through the centre of the park, before shifting it to the wings to exploit the space in behind.
After 23 minutes Molly Woods used her pace to get in behind the Lions right back and deliver a wonderful ball to Ella Gibson whose first time volley went straight into the arms of Lions goalkeeper Natasha Pentecost. The same move worked again a few minutes later, only this time Woods couldn’t get enough on her shot to test the ‘keeper.
Tigers number 10 Ester Pannwitz was always involved in the best moments for the Tigers. But in what became a theme for the away side, Pannwitz’s finishing and that of her teammates left a lot to be desired, with a handful of great chances ending up in the arms of Pentecost. The Tigers’ playmaker spurned the best chance of the first half after 33 minutes, when she tried to blast a cut back from Woods. Instead of taking a touch, Pannwitz opted to hit it first time and it ballooned wide of the goal.
Inter almost snatched the lead on 40 minutes when lone striker Christina Ferreyra was put through one on one, but her touch over the ‘keeper missed by inches.
It remained 0-0 at the break.
The second half was more of the same, with the Tigers camping themselves in the Lions’ half and repelling the odd raid from the home side.
But the Tigers would pay for their profligacy after 53 minutes, when Ferreyra put the Lions up 1-0. A loose ball bounced over the central defence of the Tigers, and Ferreyra didn’t miss on this occasion as she ran onto it and rolled the ball into the bottom corner.
The Tigers then redoubled their efforts. The press was beginning to click for the Lions now, but it still wasn’t enough to hold back the Tigers. Scores should have been level on 62 minutes as the ball rolled to an unmarked Gibson on the back post, but her finish lacked all conviction, and skewed wide.
Suddenly the Lions were 2 goals up.
On 68 minutes a corner was sloppily given away by the Tigers, and while the corner was initially headed way it went straight to the right boot of Ferreyra who promptly leathered it past the goalkeeper before anyone knew what had happened.
And then the press worked.
Almost from the kick off Inter were able to win the ball back before launching a ruthless counter. The right winger was played down the outside and played a delightful ball between the right full back and centre back, and with 3 players charging into the box for the Lions it was Ferreyra who would get there first and complete her hat-trick.
That knocked the stuffing out of the Tigers, and while they pushed valiantly for late goals they couldn’t claw their way back into the contest as the Lions midfield (particularly Alisha Dudman and Maria Kalogeropoulos) conspired to kill off any hope that they Tigers still had.
In the end the clinical nature of Inter’s attack was enough to see off a Northern Tigers side that was, for today at least, a little toothless.
Southern Branch FC v Marconi Stallions, 3pm Sunday 5th July at South Nowra Football Complex
It took 15 weeks, but someone finally took all 3 points off of Marconi as Southern Branch defeated the Stallions 3-1 on the South coast. The side from Nowra have been on fire for the past month and a half, and this win against the league leaders makes it 6 wins from their last 7 games. Victory over Marconi really sets up Southern Branch for a top 4 finish now, with their destiny well and truly in their own hands. Marconi are still no danger of relinquishing top spot, but the aura of invincibility is now gone, which could become key during the finals.
Sutherland Shire FA v Nepean FC, 3pm Sunday 5th July at Harrie Denning Centre
Nepean have launched themselves into 4th spot thanks to a 1-0 victory away to Sutherland. Nepean are another side enjoying an upturn in fortunes of late, and have spent the last few weeks climbing the table into a position of strength. The loss will hurt Sutherland, as they now must scrap away with the rest to ensure they save a place for themselves in the post season. The shire side can play some excellent football, but they need to become a consistent force to do their style justice.
Sydney Olympic FC v UNSW Lions, 3pm Sunday 5th July at Peter Moore Park
Olympic have slumped to a 1-1 draw with bottom placed UNSW at Peter Moore Park. After their performances against the Lions earlier in the season Olympic would have seen this as a home banker, and will no doubt be extremely disappointed to not come away with all 3 points. While a point does nothing to improve the ladder position of UNSW, taking points off of Olympic can only build confidence for the challenges that remain in the rest of the season. UNSW are another side that are easy on the eye, but they need to instil some ruthlessness to make the most of the way they play.
Inter ran out 2-1 winners over Northern Tigers, Southern Branch went down 2-0 to Marconi, Sydney Olympic defeated UNSW 1-0, while in the shire the points were shared between Sutherland and Nepean in a 0-0 draw.
-By Eamonn Warner, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Women’s 2 Reporter