Match of the Round: Belconnen United v Gungahlin United
A win for Gungahlin United in this first vs third clash would send a message to the competition regarding their end of season credentials. On Saturday afternoon at an overcast McKellar Park, a promising first half performance by the visitors was undone by two defensive communication breakdowns within three minutes, thwarting their ambitions for this game. After an undistinguished first half by their standards, Belconnen then dominated second half proceedings to run out 4-0 winners, scoring two goals in each half.
With regular defenders Karen Clark and Catherine Brown unavailable, Belconnen played the versatile Michaela Day at right back, while Katie Woodman came into the starting lineup. Gungahlin reverted to Kailey Tonini in goals this week, and Jade Brown replaced key attacker Elke Aitolu, who was injured.
The Gunners started the game promisingly, while Belconnen were uncharacteristically loose with some of their passes throughout the half, struggling to attain the tempo that they normally play with. Momentum slowly shifted towards Belconnen as the half progressed, with two corner kicks amounting to nothing, and a Caitlin Munoz through ball for Keira Bobbin intercepted well by Gungahlin’s Maddie Perceval in the 14th minute.
There was another good moment for Perceval in the 18th minute as she displayed poise and calm in the heart of the Gungahlin defence, playing out from the back whilst under pressure from Belconnen’s forwards. She was to be involved in a mixup with her keeper in the 29th minute, however, which led to the first Belconnen goal. Alexia Forner played in a free kick for Belconnen from the left touchline. It was cleared to Lauren Keir, who launched the ball back towards the Gungahlin defence. Her teammate Nicole Jalocha pounced upon the ball and played a through pass into the box for Bronte Pyke. Perceval attempted to shield the ball from Pyke for Tonini to deal with, but the latter hesitated, the ball popped out and Pyke was able to capitalise for a tap in.
Jalocha made the most of an opportunity of her own three minutes later, with a burst of speed allowing her to pickpocket a Maddy Whittall through ball in another moment of hesitation between Perceval and Tonini, converting for Belconnen’s second goal.
— NPL Capital Football (@officialNPLCF) June 29, 2019
Belconnen’s leading goalscorer Whittall had been quiet up until this point, but her increasing involvement for the remainder of the half aligned with an increase in her team’s intensity for the remainder of the game.
The half ended with a forward run by Day, releasing Whittall out wide for the home side, but her centred ball was able to be tidied up by the Gungahlin defence. Whittall’s team went into half time holding a two goal lead despite Gungahlin being tidier in general play, the gifted two goals aside.
— NPL Capital Football (@officialNPLCF) June 29, 2019
There were no changes to either team for the start of the second half. Brigitte Sander opened proceedings for Gungahlin with a shot from distance in the 50th minute, one which failed to be powerful enough to trouble Sally James in the Belconnen goal.
Michaela Day scored Belconnen’s third in the 55th minute when Keir passed to Keira Bobbin on the left wing via Jesse Rasschaert. Bobbin centred the ball for Jalocha in the penalty box, who spun beautifully and laid a ball off to the incoming Day. Day curled a perfectly placed left foot shot into the bottom corner of the net to give her team a three goal advantage.
Bobbin then outpaced Gungahlin right back Sander in the 57th minute to create a one-on-one chance against Tonini, but the keeper managed to deflect the shot with her feet in a terrific save.
Gungahlin’s Erika Pennyfield – who had been industrious down the right wing, but with limited impact – limped off the field in the 59th minute. She was replaced by ACT junior representative and ex-Academy player Niamh Larkin, who had been lively in the second half against Tuggeranong the previous week.
The five minutes on the hour mark saw two corner kicks go Belconnen’s way. Katie Woodman’s shot on the first sailed well over the goal, while Alexia Forner went much closer with her attempt off the second, the shot just dipping over the bar.
Caitlin Munoz placed a low free kick from outside the penalty box to the left of goal on the 67th minute, while Bobbin fired a shot straight to the keeper from similar range in free play four minutes later. Belconnen were dominating possession at this time and the majority of the play was in the Gungahlin half.
Woodman again unleashed a shot over the crossbar in the 73rd minute, after a neat touch from Jalocha opened up a shooting opportunity just inside the box. A minute later it was Jalocha’s turn to also fire over the bar; this was to be her last act in a fine game before being substituted by Leah Carnegie.
Rasschaert ventured forward for a Belconnen corner in the 79th minute, but her header glanced just wide of goal. A minute later Pyke played a long through ball from left back to Bobbin at centre forward, however Tonini was in ‘sweeper keeper’ mode and was able to deal with it.
Carnegie scored Belconnen’s final goal of the game in the 82nd minute. Whittall centred a fine ball from the byline to the edge of the six yard box, and it was met with authority by Carnegie.
A rare second half attempt on the Belconnen goal came from Ella Brown in the 84th minute, her chip from range flying just over the top right post. The ensuing goal kick also fell her way, and a one-two with Nat De Marco allowed her to advance towards the six yard box, but she shot straight at James.
Brown was to have another shot from range in a busy final period of the game. Prior to then and at the other end of the park, Day received a through ball on the run and tried to centre it to Bobbin, but Ruby Gambale was able to intervene in the Gungahlin defence.
Gungahlin will be pleased with their composure and passing accuracy, especially in the first half, with the De Marco sisters prominent. What they missed today were the wide incisive forward runs and crosses from Pennyfield and Ella Brown, both of whom are usually willing runners. This meant that central attacker Jade Brown had little attacking involvement, although she worked tirelessly to pressure the Belconnen defence.
Belconnen grew into the game slowly, their focus and intensity improving in the second half. With a three point gap at the top of the league, a game in hand, and having conceded only one NPLW goal all season, coach Antoni Jagarinec’s biggest challenge may be finding the required focus for his team in each outing. He will know that it only takes one or two poor performances to potentially bring them back to the pack with the wrong kind of momentum.
Gungahlin have an important game against Woden-Weston next week (as far as firming up top 4 places is concerned), while Belconnen are away to Tuggeranong United.
There is also an intriguing Thursday night game on offer this week, with Canberra FC playing a rescheduled round 15 game at 7:30pm against Canberra United Academy.
Belconnen United 4 (Pyke 30′, Jalocha 33′, Day 55′, Carnegie 82′)
Gungahlin United 0
Belconnen United – Coach: Antoni Jagarinec
Sally James, Lauren Keir (c), Jessie Rasschaert, Katie Woodman, Bronte Pyke, Maddelyn Whittall, Michaela Day, Caitlin Munoz, Keira Bobbin, Nicole Jalocha, Alexia Forner, Jazz Zaebel (Whittall 83′), Leah Carnegie (Jalocha 76′), Jayla Murphy, Maria Pachi (Munoz 82′), Ayla Robertson
Yellow/Red cards: Nil
Gungahlin United – Coach: Diego Iglesias
Kailey Tonini, Brigitte Sander, Marija Rathouski, Maddie Perceval (c), Ruby Gambale, Stella De Marco, Rachael Corbett, Natalie De Marco, Erika Pennyfield, Ella Brown, Jade Brown, Niamh Larkin (Pennyfield 59′), Danielle Gaspari, Courtney McCann, Cam Jackson
Yellow cards: Nil
Around The Grounds:
Canberra United Academy 6 – 2 Wagga City
Tuggeranong United 2 – 1 Monaro Panthers
Canberra Olympic 1 – 6 Canberra FC
Bye – Woden-Weston
|1||Belconnen United FC||10||9||1||0||61||1||60||28|
|2||Canberra United Academy||12||8||1||3||50||16||34||25|
|4||Gungahlin United FC||10||7||0||3||29||16||13||21|
|6||Tuggeranong United FC||11||4||0||7||11||44||-33||12|
|7||Monaro Panthers FC||12||2||0||10||19||46||-27||6|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers FC||11||2||0||9||13||50||-37||6|
|9||Canberra Olympic FC||10||2||0||8||9||54||-45||6|