The PlayStation4 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Women’s Grand Final is locked in, as Bankstown City Lions edged a tense semi-final to book their date with destiny against Sydney Olympic FC this weekend.
Preliminary Final: Sutherland Shire FA 1 defeated by Bankstown City Lions 2
Bankstown City Lions have booked the second and final spot in the PS4 NPL 2 NSW Women’s Grand Final after a pulsating 2-1 victory in the replayed semi-final at a steamy Valentine Sports Park tonight.
The press from the Lions side was evident early in the contest, in a scrappy contest they were the ones to carve more of the clear opportunities and deserved their victory and their date with Sydney Olympic FC next weekend.
Goals from Vida Opoku-Aygemang and Tania Baban were enough to roar the Lions into the final despite an own goal in the second half which gave Sutherland Shire FA a route back into the contest. Some resolute defending from the Lions late on helped them hold on to the result.
From the opening few minutes, the pace of the contest was markedly frantic as the two sides traded efforts in the opening moments of the game. Jordan Baker going closest for the Shire FA side when she crashed an effort against the goalframe before it bounced fortunately out.
Joanna Martino created chaos in the box with her 11th minute free-kick as the striker lopped the ball into the area where it bounced around but no one from the Lions side could finish it off.
If her first effort was close, the second created was perfect as it created the opening goal of the contest. Martino whipped another free-kick into the heart of the penalty box where a mesh of bodies were bustling for the ball. Shire FA keeper Emma Gidney couldn’t hold the ball then Lions striker Vida Opoku-Aygemang was on hand to sweep home for 1-nil.
Finding the opening goal seemed to buoy the Lions side on, as Alicia Lee, usually a substitute for Spink, relished her starting opportunity as a slick 1-2 put the winger into space but she couldn’t direct the effort at goal.
Some members of the Lions crowd thought that Martino had weaved her magic again in the 24th minute, as the forward put another dangerous effort into the box that hammered into the side netting. The roars of excitement following showed that her effort was close.
The usually resolute Sutherland Shire FA side were rattled but still produced a trifecta of chances in the ten minutes going into the break, aiming to draw level. Their best chance fell to Danielle Wise who almost produced a magic flick that skewed wide.
Much of the second half was a tense battle, as the two sides tightened up, so both teams looked to their star players – Tania Baban for the Lions and Jordan Baker for Shire FA – to produce a moment of magic.
Baban did her best interpretation of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ as she turned around several times at the top of the box before the striker rifled in a shot that was quickly snaffled by Gidney.
For the Shire FA, their energy finally brought some reward in the 74th minute. A wicked cross was whipped into the box, it took an unfortunate touch from Lions defender Maniso Micheal before it looped into the net for 1-1.
As the atmosphere ramped up inside Valentine Sports Park, Shire FA took their fortune and ramped up their intensity. Baker showed her class from the dead-ball as she fired another free-kick in that Wise nodded wide of the left post.
Bankstown City Lions absorbed the pressure well then produced a classic moment to decide the semi-final. Baban drove well into the box, clipped a ball over Gidney and it rolled slowly into the net, sending the bench and fans of the Lions into delirium.
There was one final chance for the never say die Shire FA, it fell of course, to Jordan Baker. From a free-kick just outside the box, the striker fired the dead ball over the wall, crashing it into the crossbar and safe, as Bankstown City Lions took the spoils.
Afterwards a jubilant Lions coach Troy Spink was delighted for a chance to make the Grand Final and a chance to test themselves against Sydney Olympic FC.
“It’s a huge credit to both teams for such an intense contest, Sutherland Shire FA are a good side and they gave us a close contest tonight.
“We’ve had some middling results against Shire FA this season, but we have improved across the second half of the season and now, I am glad to have another crack at toppling Sydney Olympic FC,” added Spink.
On matchwinner Tania Baban, Spink heaped praise for her efforts across the ninety minutes. “She was tired out there, with some tired legs but I needed her on there to find something. Thankfully she did just that for me.” Finished the Lions coach.
Sunday 3rd September 2017
Valentine Sports Park #2
Sutherland Shire FA 1 (OG ’74)
Bankstown City Lions 2 (Opoku-Aygemang ’13 and Baban ’86)
Sutherland Shire FA: 2. NISBET Genevieve, 4. BIRDSALL Annelotte, 7. ELLIS Jessica(MAXWELL ’72), 9. WISE Danielle, 10. BESZ Nicole(VUKASIN ’65), 11. DEELEY Raegan(NELSON ’87), 12. BAKER Jordan, 14. CHRISTIE Brittany, 15. MANOS Georgia, 21. GIDNEY Emma and 48. HENRY Grace
Subs not used: 3. MUTCH Kellie and 29. YEATS Zoe
Yellow cards: Manos and Ellis
Red cards: nil
Bankstown City Lions: 2. BABAN Tania(CASSAR ’90), 9. LUCIEN Sunny, 10. MICHEAL Maniso, 11. MARTINO Joanna(WOJTOWICZ ’72), 13. OPOKU-AYGEMANG Vida, 14. PETKOVIC Jelena, 18. OSMAN Doris, 19. KRSTANOVSKA Renee, 29. LEE Alica(MUSCAT ’80), 30. IBBOTSON Charlotte and 34. RUSSO Genevieve
Subs not used: 31. HENDRA Chelsea and 56. BRYDON Ashlee
Red cards: nil
-By Justin Davies