West Canberra Wanderers FC 0 v Belconnen United FC 3 (Bobbin 30’, 47’, Backhouse, 35’)
The Blue Devils left Melrose with all three points, a small revenge against a team that had taken a point in McKellar earlier this season. With that loss, West Canberra drops out of the top four.
The Wanderers were on the back foot from the get-go at home and losing their captain Sarah Whitfield on injury halfway through the first half did not help. The Blue Devils on the other end, took their time and built their attacks from the back, either finding Reilly Yuen, Keira Bobbin and Talia Backhouse in feet, or in the back of the West Canberra defence. After a few warnings around Janet King’s area and a succession of corner kicks, Belconnen finally broke the deadlock at the half hour mark. At the end of a solo run from her own half all the way through into the Wanderers’ box, centre back Tiana Jaber squared the ball for Bobbin who tapped it in the bottom corner, leaving King no chance. Five minutes later, Olivia Bomford found Backhouse behind the defence, and the striker won her one-on-one with King to score her 12th goal of the season.
West Canberra’s best opportunity came just after, but Melinda O’Callaghan ‘s header lacked power to really trouble Cristina Esposito. Back from the locker room, the Blue Devils shut all West Canberra’s hopes of a comeback within two minutes. Reilly Yuen dribbled around three defenders at edge of the box, before finding Bobbin, alone in front of King for the second time on Sunday. The number 12 picked once again the bottom corner to make it 3-0. The score could have been more severe if it wasn’t for King’s talent in goals for the Wanderers.
The win brings Belconnen back to equal points with Canberra Croatia, but the Deakin side still has a game in hand. Belconnen will host Wagga City next week. In the meantime, West Canberra will enter into a crucial game at home against Canberra Olympic.
Canberra Olympic FC 4 (Vandenbroucke 12’, 40’, 87’, Sykes 51’) v Tuggeranong United FC 0
It’s been a tough 2021 for Tuggeranong United, who are still winless this season. The side taking on a Canberra Olympic outfit who are now back in the top four, after a four goal win.
On a pitch not spared by the weather in the days before the game, Olympic had the best start on Sunday. After an opportunity in the first five minutes by Anna Bennett was blocked by Sophie Rolfe, Anna Vandenbroucke scored her first of the day at 12th minute. Ashleigh Sykes was found on the right wing by Bennett, and at the end of her run, the home striker picked Vandenbroucke in the box. The former Wanderer first hesitated, but then took her chance, sneaking the ball between the leg of a defender in the bottom corner. The visitors’ response came from Steph Coates, who thought she had put the ball past Olympic goalkeeper Ellie Summers, only to find Sienna Farrar saving the ball on her line. The second goal for the O’Connor side came five minutes before half time and looked a lot like the first one. Heather Garriock, back in the line-up, found Sykes in behind the defence, who showed off her speed to get to the ball before Rolfe. Her touch sent the ball to Vandenbroucke, who just had to tap it in the empty nets. Rolfe, who injured herself on that sequence, would leave her place to Sophie Bui between the posts at half time.
There was nothing the new keeper could do five minutes into the second act when Bennett launched Sykes by herself towards the box. The former W-League player put the ball past Bui to score her 16th goal in 14 games in 2021. Bui did have more opportunities to shine in the second half, and showed she was a great option for Paulo Romero. In front of Courtney Halse, Sykes or Vandenbroucke, she made a few saves to keep the score unchanged, almost until the end. With three minutes left to play, Vandenbroucke had another one-on-one with the keeper, and did well to wrongfoot her, and complete her hat-trick on the day.
It was an important win for Olympic to stay in the fight for a top four spot, before a decisive visit to West Canberra this weekend. Tuggeranong will be travelling to Gungahlin.
Canberra United Academy 6 (Reithmuller 11’, 29’, Perry 13’, Christopherson 46’, 58’, Grove 62’) v Wagga City Wanderers FC 0
The Academy confirmed their good result last week with a second straight win at home, recording their largest win of the season against the team from the Riverina.
Vicki Linton’s team started with better intent, keeping most of the ball in their feet and pressing high to recover it early. Unable to get the ball past Sammy Emms in the first ten, it took Sasha Grove and her teammate 15 minutes to seal the deal. Nikita Perry inherited, at the 11th minute, a ball cheaply given away. The winger ran into the box, and her cutback pass found Bessie Riethmuller, whose shot was deflected to beat Emms. Riethmuller barely had time to celebrate her first NPLW goal, when she was found again near the box. This time she became the passer, finding Perry in the box. The forward’s skills allowed her to sneak through two defenders before slotting the ball out of reach for Emms. The Wanderers struggled to get close to Lincoln’s area, besides on set pieces or shots from a distance. On the other end, the Academy keep bringing the danger to Emms, and after another ball recovered early by Grove, Riethmuller, trying to dribble through the defence, took advantage of a couple of lucky bounces to find herself alone in front of the keeper and score her second goal of the day, and give her team a three goal lead they would keep until the break.
The home team came back from the locker room with the same mindset, and within seconds back on the pitch, Sofia Christopherson went for a run on the left wing. Despite solutions in the box, she went for goal and found the opposite side net. The Academy were clearly hurting the visitors by using the whole width of the pitch. Just before the hour mark, Perry took the other wing to reach the box, and with another cutback pass, found Christopherson near the penalty spot. The number seven hit it with her first touch for her second goal on the day, levelling Anna Hunt with eight goals this season. Minutes later, Riethmuller, with the ball in the middle of an apathetic Wagga defence, served Sasha Grove at the edge of the box, and the number 10’s left footed strike cleaned the cobweb in the top right corner, leaving Emms no chance. The keeper was otherwise in good form, preventing, as it is now her habit, her team from conceding more goals.
The three points are important for the Academy, now thirdrd on the ladder, before taking on Canberra Croatia in Deakin this weekend. Wagga City will travel to Canberra for another complicated game on Saturday to play Belconnen United at McKellar.
Gunghalin United FC v Canberra Croatia FC - postponed
IMAGE: Anthony Cafferty Photography