By Tim Klingbiel
Strikers upset first string Wildcats as Breakers claim their first win and Lionesses keep up finals push
A heartbreaking ending saw the Victory go down 4-3 at Bellevue Drive to Macksville Stingers with the final hammer blow coming with just minutes remaining. Having gone down 2-0 early on and dragged themselves back into the contest to go into half time at 2-2, the Victory took an early second half lead and at one point looked like rolling their opponents.
But the Stingers had something to say about that and equalised shortly afterwards before finding the winner with time expiring. It would have been a bitter pill to swallow for Kim Barker and her girls, but they will have a chance to set things right this weekend as they travel to Dairyville to take on the Orara Valley Dingoes.
Eagles ‘1’ faced Woolgoolga Wildcats ‘2’ at home and turned on an excellent performance. Keira Plumbe opened the scoring in the 7th minute before an unlucky Wildcats player turned the ball into her own net despite a desperate attempt to prevent the ball crossing the line. An excellent attacking move from the Eagles spanned three quarters of the length of the field, starting with a quick throw in and ending with an accurate Plumbe cross that was finished well by sharpshooter Kylie McDonald.
McDonald had another before half time, and Bianca Oberleuter grabbed one of her own to blow the margin out to 5-0 at the interval. The Eagles showed no signs of letting up as they came out of the sheds in exactly the same fashion. Having won a corner shortly after the resumption, Plumbe floated a perfectly executed assist for Sheridan Watkins to finish emphatically. McDonald contributed another two goals to finish with four for the afternoon, and regular keeper Di Walker grabbed one of her own with a header – the lead up involved a cross, a header and a boot before the final touch.
Manager John Walker said the Wildcats gave an excellent effort throughout the match and created attacks of their own, but the accomplished Eagles backline, led by the capable Krista Paunovic, proved themselves equal to the task on each occasion and quickly turned defence into attack. The final score on the afternoon was 9-0. It will be a tougher outing this weekend as they face second placed Urunga Raiders ‘1’ in a marquee top of the table clash.
Eagles ‘2’ will have some intel on those opponents, having faced them in round 13 at Ayrshire Park and gone down 5-1 in a game where they had their moments despite the scoreline. They will need to regroup quickly for this weekend’s matchup against Raiders ‘2’, also at home, in order to ensure their finals aspirations don’t slip entirely out of reach.
Round 13 was a true watershed moment for the nascent Breakers side as they clocked up a whole host of firsts in a 2-0 win over Sawtell Scorpions. Their first points of the season came in emphatic fashion – why aim for the draw to get off zero when you could pick up all three points? It was also their first clean sheet and their first time scoring more than one in a match since returning to the competition in 2018.
No doubt buoyed by the victory, they now face the unfortunate reality of having to sit out the following week as a result of the bye, rather than being able to carry their newfound momentum into the next fixture. The following round will see them return home to host Woolgoolga Wildcats ‘2’ in what may be a closer battle than many realise.
Coffs City United Lionesses
The Lionesses put the heavy defeat to Raiders ‘1’ behind them as they returned to winning ways at Dairyville, coming away with a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Dingoes. The win keeps them very much in touch with the finals positions, as they currently sit outside the four on goal difference only.
They have an invaluable opportunity to elevate themselves back into the semi positions as they face the fourth placed Woolgoolga Wildcats ‘2’ this weekend at High Street in their third consecutive away game. They will undoubtedly be backing themselves to get the job done and feature among September calculations.
The Stingers hosted Bellingen and looked dangerous early, scoring after just four minutes through Lilly Borg. Some slick passing and team work combined with being able to stick to the game plan enabled Tazma Clifford to score the Stingers’ second and with an early two goal advantage, it looked as if they might run away with the contest.
Bellingen had other ideas though, and lifted their game to firstly halve the deficit and then equalise before the first half was over. The momentum was with the visitors, who scored a third to take the lead just after the break and forced the Stingers to take a good hard look at themselves. That they did, upping the tempo to equalise through Johanna Walsh. With the game finely poised at 3-3, the girls in red dug deep and it was Melina Cooper who found the net late on to seal the contest 4-3 in their favour.
It was one of the season’s most exciting contests and manager Deb Turner said that player of the match on the afternoon was Sasha Frost, who put in an excellent performance, though it was undeniably a cohesive team effort that delivered the result. They face Wildcats ‘1’ in a fourth straight home game this weekend in what is sure to be an even more difficult test.
A great result for the Strikers saw them edge past Woolgoolga Wildcats ‘1’ in a famous 3-2 victory that came as rather a shock to most of the footballing community. Those that weren’t surprised were the brains trust at Coronation Park, however, who have been quietly building a strong side who are capable of defending resolutely and then taking their chances on the counter with clinical finishing.
2-0 down at the break, the Strikers refused to drop their heads and a goal after a 50 yard run from Anna Champion turned the momentum of the game on its head. Simone Jordan’s intensity was a major factor and her relentless output and strong tackling helped turn the tide even further in the direction of the home side. Another mazy run from Champion saw her grab her brace and all of a sudden the Strikers were all square.
With just 10 minutes remaining, Champion again thwarted the defensive efforts of a swathe of blue shirts and rifled the ball home to seal her hat trick and claim an incredible 3-2 victory with the partisan home crowd erupting vociferously upon the sounding of the full time whistle. The result could signal a slight shift in the status quo of local women’s football – a changing of the guard of sorts – as the new breed begin to truly mix it with the established top sides.
Clay Urquhart and his soldiers will hope to repeat the trick in their fourth consecutive home game this weekend, as they face a much less established side than Wildcats ‘1’ in the form of Sawtell Scorpions. They will need to have their wits about them, though, as they were only able to edge a razor thin 1-0 win the last time those sides met, and the Scorpions are always a tougher out than their ladder position may suggest.
Orara Valley Dingoes
The Dingoes fought a hard battle against the visiting Coffs City United Lionesses in round 13 at Dairyville, constantly keeping themselves in with a chance to pick up points but ultimately falling just short as they went down 2-1. It was a decent showing against a side who may well feature in finals football, though, and the Orara girls certainly have nothing to be ashamed about whatsoever.
Helen Moseley’s charges will remain at home this weekend as they host the Bellingen Victory in what should be another close contest. They will no doubt be targeting all three points in this one, and have traditionally performed well both at home and against regular 2nd Division sides – having defeated the Victory 6-0 last time the sides met at Connell Park – so those factors augur well for Saturday afternoon.
The Scorpions hosted the pointless Corindi Breakers on Saturday afternoon and were hoping to register their first win of the season in a battle of the cellar dwellers. Unfortunately for the girls in green and white, the visitors were too strong on the day and came away with a 2-0 victory to consign Sawtell to equal bottom of the ladder – ahead of the Breakers on goal difference alone – and extend their wait for a first win this season.
Rachael Oberleuter’s girls will likely be involved in another close game this weekend as they travel to Coronation Park to take on the Strikers. Having been defeated by a narrow 1-0 margin last time the sides met in round 7, the Scorpions will no doubt be out to atone and score a minor upset against their southern foes.
Raiders ‘1’ clocked up a solid 5-1 win over Eagles ‘2’ at Ayrshire Park to keep their push for the Premiership on track. It will only get tougher from here though, as they face Eagles ‘1’ in a top of the table clash this weekend that represents a do or die proposition from a Premiership standpoint with only a few games remaining. Trevor Martin will no doubt have his girls geared up for the big occasion and the win in round 13 was just the preparation they needed ahead of the heavyweight clash at Ayrshire Park.
The ‘2’s had a bye in round 13, and would likely have been slightly frustrated at having to take the week off after picking up a win in round 12 over Corindi Breakers and hoping to kick start a late season flurry as Martin holds high hopes for these girls and believes they could still pull off the unthinkable and secure a finals position from deep down the table. This weekend’s away game against Eagles ‘2’ is thus of massive importance in the context of their campaign, and they will need to pull out all the stops if they are to get past Fiona Clancy’s well drilled side.
A bitter weekend for the Northern Beaches club saw both Wildcats sides defeated in away games. The ‘1’s travelled to Coronation Park to face a tough Nambucca Strikers side who they nonetheless would have expected to beat, sitting seven points above them on the ladder and with a 50 goal superior difference, but the Strikers were reading from a different script and managed to earn the three points in an entertaining 3-2 result.
The ‘2’s were always going to be in at the deep end as they travelled to Ayrshire Park to take on the ladder leading and seemingly indomitable Boambee Eagles ‘1’. Despite a 9-0 final result in the home side’s favour, the courageous visitors had their moments and refused to resort to negative football, always trying to make something happen even in the face of overwhelming adversity.
Wildcats ‘1’ are away once again this weekend, making another southern journey to Bellevue Drive to take on a Macksville Stingers side who will be buoyed by an exciting victory of their own in round 13. Kim Batty’s girls now find themselves dragged back to the pack and though they still occupy third position on the ladder, they are rather precariously just four points ahead of sixth place and will need to have their wits about them over the final four weeks of the competition.
Wildcats ‘2’ will return to High Street to host Coffs City United Lionesses in what looms as an absolutely crucial encounter as far as their finals ambitions are concerned. Currently holding down fourth spot on goal difference alone, the side who are breathing down their collective necks most closely are none other than the Lionesses, and anything less than a win this weekend will make for a white knuckled finish for the Wildcats as the chasing Strikers are also now within touching distance, just one point behind. It will be a blockbuster battle of the felines this weekend and the finals implications are colossal.