The curtain has come down on the National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens season which culminated with an engrossing Grand Final which saw Gladesville Ravens triumph as champions. For the last time, let’s get onto the review!
Gladesville Ravens were crowned 2019 National Premier Leagues 2 NSW Womens Champions in a tense 1-nil result against Premiers APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Valentine Sports Park.
Substitute Jade Pond settled the tie for Gladesville with her 67th minute wonder strike. The Ravens were made to work for the result against a stubborn APIA side and complete the season undefeated against the Tigers side.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers were unable to get the final jewel in the crown for the season but battled hard despite the loss of goalkeeper Courtney Halpin after ten minutes. The Tigers had the majority of the chances but were kept scoreless for the first time this season.
The action started thick and fast with APIA Leichhardt Tigers attacker Georgia Bridges having the first shot in the contest which was claimed by Gladesville Ravens custodian Eri Arikawa.
After their fast start APIA were reduced to ten men in the tenth minute. Ravens striker Emily Diaz bore down on goal, poked it past APIA custodian Courtney Halpin, who was forced to take out the striker and received a red card.
Carlie Ikonomou stepped up to take the free-kick from the foul and deflected it wide. Next Zoe Zaczek tried to make the advantage count with her shot but it was an easy capture for Tigers substitute keeper Stephanie Grimbilos.
Despite being down to ten, APIA were on the front foot. Fullback Jennifer Bisset marauded down the wings and created a chance for Bridges whose effort lashed over the bar.
Next, Ash Palombi and Amy Dahdah tried to find the opener. Palombi looped an effort over after cutting inside then Dahdah showed swift feet to open up space but fizzed it wide of the post. Both sides went into the sheds deadlocked at 0-0.
Gladesville Ravens came out of the sheds energised to break the deadlock. Diaz had the ball break kindly in the box for her but her shot was charged down bravely by Grimbilos to keep her side in the contest.
Bisset after her wonderful first half crafted the best chance of the contest. The fullback went on another mazy run down the right channel before cutting inside. Her strike was headed into the bottom corner before a sprawling save from Arikawa denied her.
Ravens continued to push for the opener as it looked like the game would come down to fine margins. Diaz looped a header wide then Annalise Schiraldi couldn’t connect well enough with a cross to put it on target.
The moment arrived on 67 minutes. Ravens substitute Jade Pond drove down the middle of the pitch, past the APIA defenders and pinged her shot into the top corner which sent the Ravens faithful wild as they took a 1-nil lead.
The Tigers refused to wilt though, the ten-man side created a trifecta of chances that could’ve sent the game into extra-time. Bridges drove in a low cross that fell to the feet of Dahdah, who ballooned it over the bar.
Next, it was Bridges that went close. From an in-swinging corner the striker thumped a header goal bound and with Ravens keeper Arikawa stranded, a Ravens defender thrashed the ball away to preserve the lead.
Deep into five minutes of injury time, APIA prised open one final chance. They streamed down the right and the ball was flung into the area, into the path of a trio of Tigers but none could produce a telling touch and the full-time whistle soon followed.
Speaking afterwards, APIA Leichhardt Tigers coach Matthew Constantini remained upbeat despite the loss and reflected on what was a fantastic season for the Tigers:
“The performance we put in tonight was fantastic with ten men. We tried to play through them and had the majority of the chances. We made one small mistake and it cost us. We went down playing our style of football and when you don’t take your chances you lose, that’s football.” said Constantini.
“[Steph] Grimbilos was fantastic. She only had to make one save which came off the breakaway but dealt with it well. She could do nothing with the goal but again, I am proud of the performance and we look forward.” he continued.
“Twenty one games unbeaten is fantastic in any competition. We got our major goals in the Minor Premiership and Club Championship. It is disappointing not to take the clean sweep but we could play this game 99 out of 100 times and we probably take the chances.
“We move forward now to next season.”
A jubilant Albert Disciascio basked in the glory which followed the Gladesville Ravens Championship victory and put the result down to the hard work of his side:
“It was hard work tonight. I believed in my team and tonight, we got the result. Credit to APIA,they kept coming at us despite being down to ten players. This is what I wanted this season and we got it.” he said.
Speaking on Annabelle Kinchington who came in for the injured Yume Kashima.
“It is one of those things – a big injury that kept her out. We gave her every chance to play but it was too much. Annabelle did wonderful in her role.” he finished.
Lastly, match winner Jade Pond reflected on what was her mindset when she set for goal.
“It was honestly just a flash. I just saw the ball, put my head down and it was top corner. I was over the moon.” said Pond.
Sunday 1 September 2019
Valentine Sports Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 0
Gladesville Ravens 1 (Pond ‘67)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 1. HALPIN Courtney, 2. BENNETT Jennifer (35. MACRI ‘88), 3. BISSET Jennifer, 7. CANINI Carla (49. DUMMETT ‘80), 11. PALOMBI Ashleigh, 13. URQUHART Sarah (40. GRIMBILOS ‘11), 14. WATTS Rebecca, 17. RYAN Kerrie, 18. FALLAH Jessica, 20. DAHDAH Amy, 24. BRIDGES Georgia
Unused subs: 20. HARRISON Abbey, 32. PAPOUILIDIS Marissa
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: Halpin ‘10
Gladesville Ravens: 1. ARIKAWA Eri, 2. TAYLOR Eloise, 3. SMITH Ashleigh, 5. FISHER Alanna (4. LIDBETTER ‘86), 6. IKONOMOU Carlie, 7. DIAZ Emily (13. DOUGLAS-OLIVEIRA ‘78), 8. ZACZEK Zoe, 9. SCHIRALDI Annelise (19. GOLDSMITH ‘89), 11. WOJTOWICZ Kasia, 14. KINCHINGTON Annabelle (26. POND ‘61), 23. GESTIER Hannah
Unused subs: 24. SEETO Anja
Yellow cards: Pond ‘76
Red cards: nil
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)