Round 17 of the NSW NPL Women’s competition saw three of the top four sides facing tricky away trips. In our featured game, fourth placed Illawarra Stingrays travelled to Jensen Park to face a resurgent Bankstown City Lions.
Match of the Round: Bankstown City Lions v Illawarra Stingrays
Bankstown City had been making a late push for a top five spot and a place in the finals. Three wins and a draw in their last four matches meant the Lions entered the weekend only six points off fifth place.
Meanwhile, Illawarra were confident after coming off a convincing 4-0 victory over Sydney Olympic, however they knew that a finals place was far from guaranteed.
Despite an early Bankstown City strike, the Stingrays would win comfortably, three goals in each half propelling them to a 6-1 victory.
Illawarra started brightly, Hannah Beard and Michelle Carney both having early headed chances.
The Lions weathered the storm, taking the lead against the run of play on 11 minutes. Stingrays goalkeeper Trudy Burke fumbled Joanna Martino’s corner kick, allowing Jessica Cirignano to force the ball in from close range.
Illawarra continued to have the majority of possession following the goal, and Bankstown City were happy to sit back, generally not pressing until the ball was near the halfway line.
While the Lions were now restricted to long range efforts, the Stingrays continued to look dangerous. On 19 minutes, Beard had two shots, one saved by Bankstown City shotstopper Renee Krstanovska, and the other cleared off the line by Diyana Cakovski.
Bankstown City continued to look for direct balls over the top of the defence, and as a result were not able to hold possession for long spells. This allowed Illawarra to build pressure, and it would finally pay off in the 27th minute. Kahlia Hogg whipped in a great free kick from the right wing, and Talitha Kramer’s downward header levelled the scores.
Three minutes later, the Stingrays took a 2-1 lead. Chloe Middleton charged down the left touchline to start the move. When her pass to Beard was blocked, Middleton collected the rebound and dinked a lovely ball into the middle, leaving Beard with a tap in.
Illawarra now had momentum, and they made it 3-1 in the 36th minute. From Kramer’s left side throw in, Carney headed the ball to Caitlin Cooper. The pass didn’t come off, but Carney took the ball, jinked round a defender and found the top corner.
The Stingrays then almost made it four a minute before halftime. Lovely one touch passing from Hogg, Halloway and Cooper released Kendis on the right flank, however her first time cross was just out of Carney’s reach.
Lions coach Danny Abboud responded to the scoreline by going to his bench during the interval. He introduced fresh legs on the wings, Eden Holmes and Monica Nolevski replacing Tania Baban and Doris Osman. Abboud also made a change between the sticks, with Chantelle Symes coming on for Krstanovska.
Bankstown City started the second half well, and three minutes after the restart Cirignano and Martino combined to find Vesna Milivojevic, who rode a tackle before shooting across the face of goal.
However, it was Illawarra who would score again on 51 minutes. Blaize Kendis found Halloway’s overlapping run down the right, and when her cross wasn’t cleared, Beard smashed the ball low into the net to make it 4-1.
Three minutes later, the Lions thought they had pulled one back. Cirignano set up Milivojevic with a clever backheel, and Milivojevic found the bottom corner, only for the offside flag to go up.
The Stingrays regained control after the close call, and had further chances through Beard and Carney, before Beard completed her hat trick on 74 minutes. Carney and Kendis combined to find Halloway in space, and her pinpoint cross provided an easy finish for Beard.
To their credit, Milivojevic and Cirignano continued to threaten for Bankstown City. In the 78th minute the pair combined again, Milivojevic forcing a save from Burke.
The Stingrays were then inches away from scoring a sixth goal on 80 minutes. Following a scramble in the penalty area, Carney volleyed against the bar, and Kramer’s follow up effort was blocked.
Illawarra would push until the end, making it 6-1 on in the 89th minute. Middleton showed good vision to find the energetic Kramer overlapping down the left wing. Kramer crossed low to the far post, giving Carney a simple finish.
This result means Bankstown City are now almost certainly out of finals contention, but despite the lopsided scoreline they can take positives from the way Milivojevic and Cirignano combined during the game. In particular, Milivojevic impressed with her ability to evade tackles, as well as her persistence in pressing the Stingrays defenders.
After ten goals in their last two games, Illawarra look to be hitting form as we head towards the end of the home and away season. Carney has netted six times in six weeks, and Beard has recovered incredibly well from a ten week period out of the side due to glandular fever, scoring five times in the last two rounds.
Next week, Bankstown City have an away game against Sydney Olympic, while Illawarra host Manly United.
Bankstown City 1 (Jessica Cirignano 11’)
Illawarra Stingrays 6 (Talitha Kramer 27’, Hannah Beard 30’ 51’ 74’, Michelle Carney 36’ 89’)
Bankstown City: Renee Krstanovska (c) (Chantelle Symes 46’), Cecilija Matic, Maryam Mostaghimi, Diyana Cakovski, Stephanie Ambrose, Joanna Martino, Ciara Fowler (Skye Casacchia 63’), Vesna Milivojevic, Tania Baban (Eden Holmes 46’), Jessica Cirignano, Doris Osman (Monica Nolevski 46’)
Illawarra Stingrays: Trudy Burke, Blaize Kendis, Sarah Johnston, Danika Matos, Talitha Kramer, Kahlia Hogg, Caitlin Cooper, Hannah Beard, Erica Halloway, Michelle Carney (c), Chloe Middleton
Around the Grounds
Blacktown Spartans 3 – 0 Football NSW Institute
Emerging Jets 0 – 1 Sydney University
Macarthur Rams 3 – 4 Sydney Olympic
Northern Tigers 6 – 0 North Shore Mariners
NWS Koalas 1 – 1 Manly United
|1||Sydney University SFC||17||11||5||1||41||11||30||38|
|2||Northern Tigers FC||17||11||3||3||33||10||23||36|
|3||Sydney Olympic FC||17||10||3||4||47||26||21||33|
|5||Blacktown Spartans FC||17||9||2||6||31||26||5||29|
|6||Macarthur Rams Womens FC||17||8||2||7||38||36||2||26|
|7||NWS Koalas FC||17||6||7||4||30||23||7||25|
|8||Bankstown City FC||17||6||2||9||31||42||-11||20|
|9||Manly United FC||17||5||2||10||27||31||-4||17|
|10||Football NSW Institute||17||5||1||11||22||43||-21||16|
|12||North Shore Mariners FC||17||1||0||16||16||67||-51||3|