Round 20 Review – PS4 NPL 2 NSW Women’s


An entertaining and open Round 20 of the PlayStation® 4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Women’s 2016 saw 18 goals across the four matches.

We were treated to a couple of upsets as well as sides begin to feel the pressure with the end of the season fast approaching.

Sutherland proved to be too much for the Central Coast up at Gosford, while Sydney Olympic ended Nepean’s finals hopes with a hard fought victory at Peter Moore Park. The south coast saw the first surprise of the round with Southern Branch holding off the Tigers to claim a share of the points, but the match of the round between Inter and Bankstown was where we saw the real upset of the weekend.

Match of the Round:

Inter Lions SC vs Bankstown City FC, 3pm Sunday August 14th at Fraser Park

Bankstown City have put in one of the performances of the season as they dominated ladder leaders Inter, powering their way to a 4-1 victory.

Inter began the first half brightly with a couple of good attacks down the right in the opening few minutes.

However it was Bankstown who would create the first great chance of the match. Vida Opoku-Agyemang played the ball in between the Inter right back and central defender for Tania Baban to run onto. She opened her body up and chose to strike first time, forcing a great save from Inter goalkeeper Natasha Pentecost as she tipped the ball wide of the far post.

Sarah Mandile almost struck immediately afterwards for the home side with a volley that crashed off the crossbar. Erica Toscano should have buried the rebound, but as she tried to control the ball inside the 6 yard box she was pressured out of it by the Bankstown defence, and the goalkeeper cleaned up the loose ball.

It became apparent early on that Bankstown set themselves up to hit Inter on the break at every opportunity, as every time the Bankstown midfield received the ball they had time to get their head up and punch the ball in behind Inter’s defensive line. Bankstown captain Samantha Muscat excels at timing her runs in behind, and as the half wore on Inter’s failure to pressure the Bankstown midfielders would come back to bite them.

15 minutes into the match Bankstown plan bore fruit. The ball was rolled out to Baban on the left wing, and she cut back inside to whip the ball across the inter defence. It took a slight deflection on route which weighted the ball perfectly for Muscat to run onto, and with no pressure on her whatsoever she calmly rolled the ball in off the post to make it 1-0.

Bankstown doubled their lead after 30 minutes, with Inter again unable to deal with the simple ball in behind. Sunny Lucien picked the ball up at right full back, and with no pressure on her lofted the ball through once again for Muscat. The weight on the pass was perfect as the ball sat up nicely for the skipper to flick the ball past Pentecost with outside of her right boot. 

That’s the way things stayed until half time, as Bankstown continued to look like the side leading the league rather than the hosts.

Bankstown started the second half like a house on fire. A couple of minutes after the resumption Allegra Vickas danced through the Inter defence, and would have had a glorious assist to her name if not weren’t for the linesman’s flag denying Muscat another goal.

The third goal would come soon enough though for the red and black. Muscat won the loose ball before she released Baban on the left. The winger cut inside on the edge of the box, jinked back outside before cutting back onto her right foot to open up space for the shot which she lashed across Pentecost and into the far corner.

An unstoppable hit from Baban, and Bankstown had a 3 goal lead.

Things got even better for Bankstown shortly after. Once again they exploited the space between the fullbacks for Baban, who flew onto the pass, dinked it past her defender and just before the ball crossed the by-line she got a toe to the ball to square it across for Muscat. The Bankstown captain slid in and poked the ball home to complete her hat-trick and amazingly make it 4-0 for Bankstown against the league leaders.

Muscat was fired up when she got her third, and really personified this performance from Bankstown. Even with the game seemingly all sewn up she was visibly angry when offside calls went against her – some more right than others – as Bankstown kept pushing numbers forward in the search for goals.

Inter gained somewhat of a lifeline after 62 minutes when Danyelle Pringle’s free kick sailed into the top corner from 30 yards. It was at a decent angle to cross, but Pringle struck it so sweetly that it just kept going and flew past the outstretched arms of the goalkeeper. Not a lot that Bankstown could have done to prevent that one.

Inter grew into the game a little more at this point, drawing some gasps from several long range attempts that just missed the target. Alisha Dudman had a great chance from a header after 70 minutes, but she couldn’t keep the ball down. Then Rhonda Succar had her chance to get a goal back but in her desperation to win the header she mistimed her leap and the ball ballooned back out towards the edge of the 18 yard box.

All the while though, Bankstown was looking as dangerous as ever on the break. Inter couldn’t deal with the Bankstown forward line, and they really should have extended their lead on multiple occasions before full time.

4-1 the final score and a simply dominant display from Bankstown City, who should use this as a benchmark for what they expect week in week out next season. Inter will have to up their game over the coming weeks if they are any hope of taking out the title at the end of the season.

Central Coast Mariners FC vs Sutherland Shire FA, 2.05pm Sunday August 14th at Pluim Park NO.3

Sutherland have tuned up nicely for their premiership decided with Inter next week with a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Central Coast Mariners. Heavy favourites going into this it was always going to be the type of game that if Sutherland showed anywhere near their best they’d pick up an easy three points. It’s a very important result for them though, as a win next weekend now almost guarantees them the minor premiership – only two victories for Olympic in their last two games will be enough to see them displaced.

The Mariners weren’t really expected to put up too much of a fight in this one. But with Sutherland showing renewed signs of their best in the last few weeks then this may be quite a good end result all things considered. It’s been a nightmare of a time for Central Coast in 2016, and with the Tigers and Bankstown still to come it seems like the toughest tests have been saved for last.

Sydney Olympic FC vs Nepean FC, 3pm Sunday August 14th at Peter Moore Park

Sydney Olympic have overcome a spirited Nepean to triumph 4-2. The sides were locked at 2-2 at half time, before the class of Olympic showed and they finished the game off in the second half with 2 more goals to end Nepean’s season. Danielle Calvi and Madelaine Costanzo each bagged a goal, with Kate Halaska’s brace of goals enough to see Olympic over the line. With a game in hand and the form they’re showing at the moment, Olympic may now be a real dark hose to take the minor premiership come next Sunday evening.

Nepean pushed hard for the win they needed but it just wasn’t to be this season. A few points dropped here and there throughout the campaign left them with it all to do in the final few weeks, and it was just too much. They were in with a great shot at half time in this one, but you can’t give Olympic a sniff with the quality of players they have in the final third. Nepean just needs to find one or two more ingredients and they could be real players in 2017.

Southern Branch FC vs Northern Tigers FC, Sunday August 14th at South Nowra Football Complex

The Tigers’ premiership aspirations took a little bit of a hit this weekend as they were held to a 2-2 draw with Southern Branch down in Nowra. With Sutherland and Olympic claiming maximum points around them, the Tigers now need results to go their way next weekend to finish on top. A little hiccup was to be expected though given their amazing run over the final two thirds of the season, but you don’t want to be dropping points in the final few rounds of the year.

Southern Branch put in a much needed better performance after last weekend’s hammering by Olympic. Sarah Hickling got on the scoresheet twice for them, giving them some more bite up front. They’ve missed a real potent threat in the final third this season, and that will be something they’ll look to improve as they move ahead. Dangerous forward players seem to be the real difference between the best sides and the rest this season, so if you want to challenge you need to be producing a threat from somewhere.

Reserve Grade:

All the goals came in the second half as Bankstown claimed a 2-1 victory over Inter, Sydney Olympic defeated Nepean 1-0, and the Tigers were far too strong for Southern Branch as they ran out 4-0 winners down in Nowra. Sutherland had the bye.

By Eamonn Warner, PS4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Women’s Reporter