A dramatic Women’s State League Grand Final saw Bankstown City FC crowned Champions, beating the Western NSW Mariners FC in extra-time.
Western NSW Mariners FC vs. Bankstown City FC 1-2
Heavy rain at Valentine Sports Park could not deter the 2015 Women’s State League Grand Final from being one to remember, with the Western NSW Mariners FC taking on Bankstown City FC.
The league’s two best sides throughout the season wasted no time, both coming out of the blocks firing.
Bankstown’s first significant effort came in the fifth minute, after a determined burst down the wing from Melissah Parlato eventuated in the ball falling to Tania Baban. The skilful midfielder sent her shot well over.
Five minutes later, a nervy failed clearance from Kristen McMahon allowed Western NSW’s Morgan Sherman a chance to run on to the ball, with only the keeper to beat. Smartly off her line, Lana Ferreira was able to clear the ball before the Mariners striker could reach it.
In the seventeenth minute, Bankstown’s Melissah Parlato continued to have the better of Katie Pakai-Kelly on the right flank, and dribbled with agility into the goalbox. Her eventual shot was saved well by a diving Jessica Daymond.
As the half progressed, the Mariners began to see the majority of chances, as their midfield grew in confidence.
In the twenty third, Mariners midfielder Kristy Collingridge ripped a powerful effort from outside of the box towards the Bankstown City goal, forcing Lana Ferreira to push the ball behind.
Moments later, Jessica Salomoni burst down the right wing and tried to slide the ball past a charging Ferreira, however placed her shot wide of the far post.
Bankstown continued to threaten on the counter, but were held back by some superb defending from the Western NSW back four, particularly Annabel Meadley.
In the thirty fourth minute, Teegan Courtney stole the ball from Bankstown’s Lyndsay Kohlet inside the City goalbox. Perhaps panicking a little, she sent her consequential shot well wide of the net, despite having had time to line it up.
Regardless of a period of dominance from Western NSW, it was Bankstown City’s Melissah Parlato who had the best opportunity of the first half. Receiving the ball from Tania Baban inside the box, with only the keeper to beat, the usually clinical winger scuffed her effort past the upright.
Four minutes later, Bankstown had yet another incredible chance to open the scoring; after some sloppy defending, Tania Baban found herself free at point blank range. She fired powerfully towards the bottom left corner, but saw her shot saved magnificently by Jessica Daymond.
The first half was action-packed, but nevertheless finished with deadlock intact; not for a lack of trying from both outfits, who delivered entertaining, end-to-end football.
The first opportunity of the second half was a sighter by way of Western NSW’s Kya Gobdier, which stung the hands of Lana Ferreira in goal for Bankstown.
Shortly later, Mariners youngster Tayla Lloyd stole the ball from the feet of Kristen McMahon, before laying off Morgan Sherman; the striker’s effort lofted well over.
Quickly on the counterattack, Bankstown’s Samantha Muscat and Lyndsay Kohlet combined smoothly, passing their way up the field. Kohlet rounded the keeper and put the ball into the back of the net, only to be pulled back for an offside call.
In the fifty sixth minute, a deflected shot from Tayla Lloyd rattled off the Bankstown upright, before being cleared with violence by Kristen McMahon.
Mariners captain Megan McFarland notably stepped up in the second half, and asserted herself with experienced leadership in the centre of defence. Similarly to the first half, Western NSW began to dominate play, with City sitting deeper.
Lana Ferreira, in goal for Bankstown, was brought into play regularly; providing a safe pair of hands to prevent Western NSW from scoring. Centre back pairing, McMahon and Bacon remained diligent, quick to cut out probing crosses from Mariners wingers Salomoni and Henley-Sadgrove.
However, with neither team able to find the back of the net, the game entered extra-time; with legs tiring, a tense atmosphere engulfed Valentine Sports Park.
It only took three minutes of extra-time for the stalemate to come crashing down. A loose pass in the box from the Western NSW Mariners defence fell at the feet of Tania Baban. Baban smashed her shot through the hands of Jessica Daymond and into the net.
The stands erupted, and the Bankstown players wheeled towards the sideline in celebration. Undoubtedly a turning point in the game, there was a sense that the Mariners would either fight back or crumble.
Unfortunately for the Premiers, it appeared to be the latter. Only three minutes later, another sloppy piece of defending allowed Samantha Muscat to latch on to a speculative lofted ball in to the box. The league’s top scorer volleyed home with supreme confidence to double Bankstown’s lead.
The Mariners’ regained composure slowly, and fought passionately for a way back in to the game. In the one hundred and twelfth minute, Jess Salomoni was able to hold her defender off, swivel and shoot powerfully at goal; denied by a sharp reflex save from Ferreira.
Moments later, a low cross in to the box from Salomoni found Morgan Sherman on the penalty spot. The tired striker took a loose touch, where a first time effort would have been an almost certain goal.
However, in the one hundred and eighteenth minute, the Mariners finally found their first goal of the game and a glimpse of hope. A powerful cross in to the box from the ever-dangerous Salomoni found Kate Henley-Sadgrove at the back post, who smashed the ball home.
Nevertheless, a fairy tale comeback was not to be. With both sides leaving everything they had on the pitch, the final whistle blew. Bankstown City FC were crowned deserved Women’s State League Champions.
Western NSW Mariners FC 1 (Kate Henley-Sadgrove 118’)
Bankstown City FC 2 (Tania Baban 93’, Samantha Muscat 96’)
Valentines Sport Park No. 2, Glenwood
Western NSW Mariners FC: 6. Kristy Collingridge, 14. Teegan Courtney (2. Erin Boxsell 81’), 1. Jessica Daymond, 8. Kya Gobdier, 11. Katherine Henley-Sadgrove, 10. Tayla Lloyd, 3. Megan McFarland, 4. Annabel Meadley, 5. Katie Pakai-Kelly, 7. Jessica Salomoni, 9. Morgan Sherman.
Unused Substitutes: 15. Alyssa Armstrong, 16. Tara Johnson, 13. Kelsey Sherman.
Yellow Cards: 6. Kristy Collingridge 91’
Red Cards: N/A
Bankstown City FC: 17. Tania Baban, 4. Liana Babic (26. Jessica Burgess 94’), 3. Rosie Bacon, 1. Lana Ferreira, 2. Lyndsay Kohlet, 39. Kristen McMahon (Lauren Danaskos 75’), 10. Maniso Michael, 21. Samantha Muscat (5. Abir Awad 111’), 7. Melissah Parlato (8. Jessica Abrahim 67’), 13. Marie Sim-Sing, 6. Allegra Vickas
Unused Substitutes: N/A
Yellow Cards: 26. Jessica Burgess 107’
Red Cards: N/A
-by Daniel Palmer, Women’s State League Reporters