Image courtesy @KaiMoebus

Match of the Round: Monaro Panthers v  Tuggeranong United

With two games under their belts – albeit losses – Tuggeranong United were looking to leverage their match sharpness to help them get a result over a Monaro Panthers outfit who were yet to take the field this season, and that is indeed how it played out in a tightly contested 3-2 win for the away side on a pristine Riverside Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

All eyes were on the Monaro team taking the newly re-laid field, with the promise of up to five overseas players making their debut, but when the starting whistle blew there was no sign of the three Solomon Island internationals touted to be joining the squad. American Kaitlyn Joy and Singaporean Chris Yip-Au did, however, take their place in the Monaro side. Tuggeranong United are also still awaiting the arrival of English player Alice Linn to supplement their ranks.

Both sides were fielding very young teams, so the opportunity was ripe for someone to exert some authority and to stand tall by game’s end; that player was Sara Daisley for Tuggeranong.

The game started well for Tuggeranong, with Kassandra Guglielmin displaying some lovely deception in a midfield passing move in the eighth minute that culminated in an opportunity in the penalty box for Chloe Daisley, but her shot scuffed wide of the goal.

Monaro responded with two opportunities in the next five minutes, the first dealt with well by Tuggeranong’s Lara Mustaine in defence, and the second resulting in a strong shot from outside the penalty box by Alicia Meuronen that deflected off the keeper’s legs, in an early warning of Meuronen’s long range shooting ability.

The Tuggeranong defence was well organised by Amber Harvey, often playing a flat, high defensive line, and in the first half this tactic saw them catch the Monaro attackers offside on several occasions.

Both teams were displaying a liking for a tidy short passing game in all areas of the field and this was often a joy to watch.

There were minor opportunities for both sides but the deadlock was broken in the 26th minute when an attacking left side move resulted in a corner for Tuggeranong. The ball was only cleared as far as Guglielmin on the inside of the penalty area and she finished neatly in the bottom corner of the net with her left foot.

Monaro responded with two long range shots on Tuggeranong goal within the next five minutes but neither fully tested Ashley King in goals.

Sophie Bui was proving to be an outlet for Tuggeranong attacking moves, with a willingness to both take on defenders and to play in an attacking holding role.

The teams went to the break with Tuggeranong 1-0 up.

Monaro’s Meuronen found her range from outside the box in spectacular fashion just after the break after winning the ball in midfield in two successive strong challenges. Her equaliser from 25 yards sailed over the outstretched arms of the keeper and into the top right corner of the net.

The goal spurred Tuggeranong into action and they dominated the next 20 minutes, with a Harvey shot from distance sailing over the Monaro goal, followed soon thereafter by a pinpoint through ball by Sara Daisley for Bui who was unable to hit the target.

Monaro’s single chance of substance in this time was a tantalising Meuronen cross into the box from the right side, just a little too far forward for a tap in by the Monaro forward on the spot.

The Tuggeranong pressure paid off in the 69th minute when the Monaro keeper rolled a ball out to her defender to advance up the field. Tuggeranong’s Sara Daisley made a strong challenge on her opponent; looked up and saw the keeper off her line; and shot with precision from distance over the keeper for a 2-1 lead.

In the 77th minute Monaro’s Yip-Au – who had been industrious all game in the number 10 role – found a way to beat the Tuggeranong offside trap with a clever through ball to a well-timed run by Liz Edwards. Edwards managed to outpace her defender for a one-on-one with the keeper, making no mistake to equalise at 2 all.

Two minutes later Yip-Au was herself the recipient of a through ball and found herself in a similar situation to Edwards two minutes earlier, but her shot was parried away by King in goals.

The last ten minutes of the game found both teams pressing hard for the win, and the action was end-to-end. The winner came in the 85th minute when a free kick was awarded to Tuggeranong outside the Monaro box. Monaro’s substitute keeper was unable to keep Sara Daisley’s free kick from hitting the underside of the bar and ricocheting behind the goal line before being cleared. The referee consulted with the linesman and the goal was awarded.

In the final minutes, Monaro attempted several long balls behind the Tuggeranong defence, but the defence was able to deal with these forays, and Tuggeranong were able to close the game out.

Tuggeranong will be very happy to have come away with the three points and can point to their passing game and the strong performances of Guglielmen and Sara Daisley as positives, but will want to reflect on the risks posed by playing a flat, high line of defence against aware midfielders and fleet-footed forwards.

Monaro’s first outing was Oh-so-close, with Meuronen and Yip-Au impressing. The entire team will be better for the run, with the knowledge of the imminent arrival of their internationals to bolster their depth.

Full time: Monaro Panthers 2 – 3 Tuggeranong United

Teams:

Monaro Panthers – Coach: Ian Worthington

Liana Hall; Charlotte Grandy, Gabby Markulin, Alyssa Bozinovska, Zoe Miller; Sofia Furlanetto, Alicia Meuronen (49’), Siena Summers; Kaitlin Joy, Chris Yip-Au, Liz Edwards (77’)

Subs: Jelena Josipovic (Gaby Markulin 61′), Cheyanne Girvan (Bozinovska 84’)

Yellow/Red cards: nil

Tuggeranong United – Coach: Michael Aldred

Ashley King; Lara Mustaine, Claire Falls, Amber Harvey, Annabel Aldred; Chloe Daisley, Beth Williams, Sara Daisley (69’, 85’), Kassandra Guglielmin (26’), Mackenzie Alcock; Sophie Bui

Subs: Lilian Martone (Alcock 66′)

Yellow/Red cards: nil

Around The Grounds:

Belconnen United 5 – 0 Gungahlin United

Canberra FC 7 – 0 Canberra Olympic

Wagga City Wanderers 0 – 4 Canberra United Academy

Woden-Weston – bye

Ladder:

Pos Team P W D L For Against GD Pts
1 Canberra FC 3 2 1 0 14 0 14 7
2 Canberra United Academy 3 2 0 1 14 2 12 6
3 Belconnen United FC 2 1 1 0 5 0 5 4
4 Gungahlin United FC 2 1 0 1 6 5 1 3
5 Wagga City Wanderers FC 2 1 0 1 4 5 -1 3
6 Woden-Weston FC 2 1 0 1 2 8 -6 3
7 Tuggeranong United FC 3 1 0 2 4 12 -8 3
8 Monaro Panthers FC 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0
9 Canberra Olympic FC 2 0 0 2 0 16 -16 0