Round 19 of the NSW NPL competition would play a huge part in determining the Premiers, as the top two teams met at Sydney University Football Ground. Other results showed that the finals race isn’t over yet, however with only three rounds remaining, the clubs just outside the top five will need to move quickly.
Match of the Round: Sydney University v Northern Tigers
The aforementioned top-of-the-table clash was this week’s featured game, league leaders Sydney University hosting second placed Northern Tigers.
Sydney University went into the weekend on 41 points, two points ahead of Northern Tigers. Both sides were keen to maintain their excellent form (14 matches without defeat for Uni, one loss in nine rounds for the Tigers), as third placed Sydney Olympic were on 36 points and looking to capitalise on any slip-ups.
Uni would end up deservedly winning 2-0. However, they had to work hard for the result, and the game was not safe until the final minutes.
The general pattern of the contest was established early, with both teams playing in a 4-3-3 but using different approaches. The Students dominated possession and were pressing high, while the Tigers looked to counter quickly. Right winger Hannah McNulty was the focus of a lot of these counters, and on six minutes she was able to get into the area, Tori Tumeth making a perfectly timed challenge to stop the attack.
Sydney University’s first clear opportunity came when Julie-Ann Russell beat a challenge on the edge of the area, her chipped effort sailing past the far post.
Just past the quarter hour, Uni top scorer Cortnee Vine had a great chance after Rachael Soutar’s inswinging cross wasn’t cleared, but could only volley over the crossbar.
At around the 25 minute mark, there was a switch on the right side of the Uni formation. Annabel Martin moved up play as a right winger, with Charlotte McLean dropping to right back. Martin would make an impact in her new role on 33 minutes, playing a brilliant reverse pass to put Vine in a good crossing position, however the ball sailed out of play.
The Students kept the pressure on, and in the space of less than 60 seconds shots from McLean, Taren King and Bianca Galic were blocked by the Tigers defence. Uni were then dealt a blow near the end of the first half as Melissa Caceres left the field due to injury, Carla Trimboli coming on in her place. This seemed to disrupt their momentum, and the game remained scoreless until half time.
For the second half, Northern Tigers swapped their wingers, Aimee Phillips moving to the right and McNulty switching over to the left. The change almost paid off 20 seconds after the restart. Malia Steinmetz sent Phillips scampering away down the right side, and her cross found Daisy Arrowsmith in space, but the header flew wide.
The home team resumed their dominance, and on 53 minutes a strong penalty shout was waved away when Steinmetz appeared to block Vine’s shot with her arm. Two minutes later, Trimboli and Martin combined on the right flank to set up Russell, who shot over from close range.
The Students kept going, and just before the hour mark Clare Wheeler brought the best out of Tigers goalkeeper Eliza Campbell, her 25 yard drive forcing the shotstopper to dive full length to her right and palm the ball away.
Vine then thought she had broken the deadlock in the 64th minute when she converted McLean’s low cross, however the goal was ruled out for a handball.
Uni’s domination finally told with a little over 20 minutes remaining, although the opening goal was somewhat fortunate. Soutar tried her luck from 30 yards, the shot taking a big deflection off Erica Di Sciascio. Perhaps put off by the onrushing Vine, Campbell misjudged the bounce, allowing the ball to loop over her and into the net.
Campbell’s uncharacteristic error was almost compounded a few minutes later after she ran to the touchline to collect a loose ball. Russell won possession from the goalkeeper before being held back, and Campbell was slightly fortunate to only receive a yellow card.
In the final 15 minutes, Northern Tigers brought on some speed in the form of Josie Wilson and Shayna Killey, and also switched to a 3-5-2 formation. However, the Students continued to create chances, and Vine set up Wheeler for a 20 yard strike which Campbell tipped over the bar.
The Tigers would briefly threaten in stoppage time when McNulty sent a 20 yard volley wide of the target, but Uni had the final say. On 93 minutes, Martin dispossessed Killey and charged into the area, firing a left footed drive into the roof of the net.
Sydney University are now five points clear at the top, and could seal the Premiership as early as next weekend – they face Manly United at Cromer Park. Northern Tigers drop to third, and have another tough away trip on Sunday against Illawarra Stingrays.
Sydney University 2 (Rachael Soutar 69’, Annabel Martin 90+3’)
Northern Tigers 0
Sydney University: Courtney Newbon, Annabel Martin, Taren King (c), Tori Tumeth, Rachael Soutar, Clare Wheeler, Bianca Galic, Melissa Caceres (Carla Trimboli 41’), Charlotte McLean (Holly Caspers 67’), Cortnee Vine (Sarah Morgan 90’), Julie-Ann Russell (Maxine Peak 79’)
Yellow cards: Tori Tumeth 80’, Maxine Peak 90+1’, Annabel Martin 90+2’
Northern Tigers: Eliza Campbell, Erica Di Sciascio (Shayna Killey 82’), Ellie Brush (c), Emma Smith, Isabella Foletta, Emma Watkins, Malia Steinmetz, Beth Bernardi (Josie Wilson 75’), Hannah McNulty, Daisy Arrowsmith, Aimee Phillips
Yellow cards: Eliza Campbell 73’
Around the Grounds
Bankstown City 1 – 5 Macarthur Rams
Emerging Jets 0 – 2 Football NSW Institute
Illawarra Stingrays 1 – 0 Blacktown Spartans
Manly United 0 – 3 Sydney Olympic
NWS Koalas 4 – 0 North Shore Mariners
|1||Sydney University SFC||19||13||5||1||45||11||34||44|
|2||Sydney Olympic FC||19||12||3||4||52||27||25||39|
|3||Northern Tigers FC||19||12||3||4||35||13||22||39|
|5||Blacktown Spartans FC||19||10||2||7||32||27||5||32|
|6||Macarthur Rams Womens FC||19||9||2||8||43||39||4||29|
|7||NWS Koalas FC||19||7||7||5||34||24||10||28|
|8||Football NSW Institute||19||7||1||11||26||44||-18||22|
|9||Bankstown City FC||19||6||2||11||33||49||-16||20|
|10||Manly United FC||19||5||3||11||27||34||-7||18|
|12||North Shore Mariners FC||19||1||0||18||17||73||-56||3|