Image courtesy Capital Football


Match of the Round: Canberra Olympic v Woden-Weston



Round 16 is the third last of the 2019 season, and moves are occurring which will prove decisive in the race to the finals series. Belconnen United were chasing a win at Wagga Wagga to cement an astonishing ninth successive premiership. Second placed Canberra FC were looking to stamp their finals credentials and build towards finals momentum with a strong showing against Tuggeranong United at Deakin Stadium. A draw on Saturday between third placed Gungahlin United and Monaro Panthers threw new light on Sunday’s feature match at O’Connor Enclosed Oval, perhaps extending a lifeline to Woden-Weston’s chances of making the top four, however they must finish the season strongly to grasp at the chance offered.

Woden-Weston were made to work hard for it but came away from the contest as 3-1 victors, withstanding a second half Canberra Olympic goal and closing out the win to keep their finals hopes burning.

There were two changes to the Canberra Olympic starting lineup from Round 15, as Emily Dillon and Emma Finch came in for Jodie Kirkness and Sophia Gidis. Woden-Weston were without the services of Samantha Briggs and Briana Maguire, welcoming back Iesha de Andrade and – playing further back in the formation than we normally see her – Anna Vandenbroucke into the wide back slots.

The majority of the first half proved to be a midfield arm-wrestle. Woden-Weston were unable to capitalise on chances for Alex McKenzie in the 8th minute (shooting wide from range), Tayla Zanotto on 15 minutes (a shot from outside the penalty box just to the left of goal), and Sofia Christopherson in the 24th minute (firing a shot straight at Olympic keeper Angelica Pahina).

McKenzie and Christopherson looked most likely in this period, with McKenzie enthusiastic in winning the ball in her defensive midfield role and making smart, precise decisions going forward. Meanwhile, Christopherson’s speed down Woden-Weston’s right flank was proving a handful for Olympic left back Emily Dillon.

Olympic were finding it hard to get into the game. Kiara Gaspari and Lily Dawson were somewhat stifled, while Emma Croker was unable to combine with Dawson to the same effect as in the last round. Finch looked lively in the Olympic forward line, but Woden-Weston centre back Sarah Whitfield was showing anticipation and strength in diffusing attacking threats. They did grow into the game after half an hour, and Finch rounded her defender on 34 minutes, however her forward burst was well intercepted by advancing Woden-Weston keeper Christina Esposito.

Woden-Weston put a temporary halt to the Olympic momentum when Shaquille Chong scored in the 36th minute. Her captain Cassia Mcglashan charged down a bouncing ball in the penalty box, and the ball deflected to Chong, who tucked the ball away neatly in the bottom left corner of the net. Olympic protests regarding possible Mcglashan elbow contact on the ball were waved away after the referee consulted with the assistant referee, confirming that the goal was to stand.

The goal put a bit of feeling into the game for a time. The Woden-Weston forward line pressed the Olympic defence who, led by Ali Cook, were redoubling their efforts to block attacking threats and to get back into the game. The half finished with Gaspari lobbing a delightful ball into the Woden-Weston penalty box for Finch, who was unable to make the most of the opportunity under pressure from keeper Esposito.

Woden-Weston came into the second half full of attacking intent. McKenzie struck a well placed corner in the 47th minute, highlighting her skill from the dead ball even as the possibilities it presented were unable to be capitalised upon. Five minutes later Chong buried a fierce strike into the back of the net, however she was flagged offside.

A McKenzie free kick was cleared downfield by Olympic captain Emma Guo in the 56th minute, with Finch streaking away from the Woden-Weston defence in a one-on-one opportunity against Esposito, shooting powerfully but unable to beat the diving keeper.

There was no stopping Woden-Weston’s Zanotto in the 59th minute as she won the ball off Keeley Pasfield outside the penalty area, rounded Cook inside the box, and shot with her left foot. Pahina will no doubt be unhappy that the shot found its way through her gloves and into the net, giving Woden-Weston a two goal lead.

Vandenbroucke was looking to get more involved in the second half as her attacking instincts kicked in. She was to chime into the attack on several occasions in the half while still being able to maintain her defensive role, but was not alone in her willingness to get forward at this point in the game, fellow defender Whitfield a case in point.

Woden-Weston’s Christopherson made good on her attacking promise in the 69th minute as she was released down the right flank at speed by her captain, finishing clinically inside the far post with a low, accurate shot, defenders trailing behind her.

It is said that one of the most common times to concede a goal is when your team relaxes having scored one of their own, and this may have been the case here. From the kickoff, Dawson played through to Finch in Woden-Weston’s central defence. Finch won the ball with sheer determination, making no mistake in guiding her shot past the approaching Esposito to make it 3-1.

In the last twenty minutes Woden-Weston managed to tighten their grip on the game again, ensuring the 3-1 scoreline stood. Chances fell to Christopherson in the 73rd minute on the right – shooting tamely at the keeper this time – as well as to Alana Bain on 75 minutes and Mcglashan a minute later. In this time Olympic only managed a free kick attempt on goal by Dillon, taken comfortably by Esposito.

McKenzie typified her team’s second half performance and effort just before the final whistle was blown, chasing down Finch in the 18 yard box and clearing the ball just as a one-on-one chance with the keeper beckoned.

Olympic’s midfield was out-enthused in the second half, and Woden-Weston’s willingness to compete and attack was well rewarded, while only Finch showed the same willingness in the Olympic attacking line.

There are many intriguing matchups in the final two rounds as positions three and four on the ladder are shaken out. Gungahlin hold a four point lead over Canberra United Academy, however they have a tough run home with fixtures against Academy (away) and Canberra FC (at home). A challenging run home also awaits Academy with a blockbuster away game to Belconnen in the final round. Woden-Weston sit one point behind Academy but have arguably the best run home of the three, away to Wagga City and then home to Monaro Panthers.

Congratulations must also go to Belconnen United, who secured their ninth consecutive Premiership with victory over Wagga City on the weekend.

Summarising next week’s Round 17 fixtures:

Belconnen United vs Monaro Panthers at McKellar Park, Saturday @ 3pm

Canberra United Academy vs Gungahlin United at Hawker Enclosed, Saturday @ 5pm

Wagga City vs Woden-Weston at Gissing Oval (Wagga Wagga), Sunday @ 3pm

Canberra Olympic vs Tuggeranong United at O’Connor Enclosed, Sunday @ 3pm


Final score:

Canberra Olympic 1 (Finch 70′)

Woden-Weston 3 (Chong 36′, Zanotto 59′, Christopherson 69′)



Canberra Olympic – Coach: Andrew Woodman

Angelica Pahina, Celina Vecchi, Keeley Pasfield, Emily Dillon, Ali Cook, Eleanor Jones, Kiara Gaspari, Lily Dawson, Emma Croker, Emma Guo (c), Emma Finch, Georgina Woodward, Krissa Manns, Renee Mastrolembo, Cindy Chalker

Yellow/Red cards: Nil

Woden-Weston – Coach: Mark Boyd

Christina Esposito, Iesha De Andrade, Ellen Brown, Sarah Whitfield, Anna Vandenbroucke, Jemima Millar-Carton, Alex McKenzie, Tayla Zannotto, Cassia Mcglashan (c), Shaquille Chong, Sofia Christopherson, Alana Bain, Alice Johansson-Crumfield, Hanna Coppell, Vanessa Burdett, Lilian Geale

Yellow/Red cards: Nil


Around The Grounds:

Monaro Panthers 1 – 1 Gungahlin United

Canberra FC 12 – 0 Tuggeranong United

Wagga City 0 – 9 Belconnen United

Canberra United Academy – bye



Pos Team P W D L For Against GD Pts
1 Belconnen United FC 14 13 1 0 91 2 88 40
2 Canberra FC 15 11 2 2 78 9 69 35
3 Gungahlin United FC 14 9 2 3 39 17 22 29
4 Canberra United Academy 13 8 1 4 50 18 32 25
5 Woden-Weston FC 14 8 0 6 32 33 -1 24
6 Tuggeranong United FC 13 4 0 10 13 63 -50 12
7 Monaro Panthers FC 14 2 1 11 20 54 -34 7
8 Canberra Olympic FC 14 2 1 11 11 71 -60 7
9 Wagga City Wanderers FC 14 2 0 12 14 75 -61 6