The two best teams this season so far were facing each other in O’Connor, and the game ended the same it did in round four, with 1-1 draw. Canberra Croatia achieved what most teams can’t, putting Canberra Olympic under pressure and forcing them to play deep in their own half from the moment the kick-off was taken.
The reigning champions were rewarded at the 21st minute when Bella Barac was at the receiving end of a perfect cross from Rebecca Kiting. The striker, more known for her silky touch, showcased another of her talent, perfectly heading the ball in the bottom corner, out of Janet King’s reach.
The visitors used the momentum to try and get a more comfortable advantage, but Olympic quickly showed they would go down without a fight. Minutes after the goal, Cook’s free kick was a first alert on Angelica Pahina’s goals, but the keeper was quick enough to clap the ball on her crossbar before her defence cleared the danger.
Tianah Miro’s effort from the edge of the box past the half hour mark was also deflected by the keeper on her crossbar, but this time Vanessa Ryan was the fastest on the rebound, happy to tap the ball in the empty net. The second half started by a lengthy interruption (30 minutes), after an awkward fall resulted in a dislocated shoulder for Krista Hagen, which required the intervention of an ambulance.
When the game finally started again, a cagey affair was on the cards, dominated by Olympic this time, but the real chances on goal were too scarce and the scoreboard remained unchanged. Zoran Glavinic and his team keep their comfortable cushion of four points ahead of Nicole Begg’s troops.
Down south, Tuggeranong United are confirming their solid progression this year with another marquee result, taking a point against third place West Canberra Wanderers. The players coached by Rey Castro had started the game ideally, taking the leading within the first three minutes. A pacey run by Hattie Cram, a cross, a genius backheel touch by Sarah Whitfield and Tara Cannon had beaten Sammy Emms from close range.
The midfielder was at it again half an hour later, this time from the spot kick after an avoidable foul by Lara Mustaine on Sophia Medina. Cannon’s missile from 12 yards left Emms no chance. Up two goals at half time, the Wanderers thought they had done the hardest part.
Tuggeranong had other plans and picked their opponents cold seconds into the second half, a long-range effort by Cara Ceruti putting her team back in the game. 15 minutes later, the momentum had completely shifted and Ariadne Stergiou, after a through ball that the Wanderers’ defence was inches away from clearing, found herself facing Samantha Briggs alone. The young forward went for power and buried it over the visitors’ keeper.
The WNPL was welcoming a coach back this weekend. In the Riverina, Andrew Woodman was at leading Gungahlin United for the first time officially after taking on the head coach job left vacant by Pat Mills earlier this week. The new Gunners coach was met with success for his debut, at Gissing Oval against the Wagga City Wanderers.
It did not take long for the visitors to take the lead, when 17 minutes in, Natalie De Marco was beating Ebony Warner from the spot kick after Erika Pennyfield had been fouled. Ten minutes later at the other end, the Wanderers were gifted the equalizer, after an uncharacteristic mistake by Kaley Tonini offered Megan Castle a free goal.
The Gunners regrouped, and within 10 minutes in the second half, had taken an advantage they would keep until the end. Cassia McGlashan was the first to strike, in a very narrow angle at the far post. She was imitated four minutes later by Sharon Chao, served on the platter by Stella De Marco.
The former Canberra Croatia striker was at it again in the final minutes of the game to secure the win, after another great sequence of play, from Natalie De Marco’s pass to Pennyfield’s cross. Chao picked the corner with precision, sending Warner to get the ball in the back of her net for the fourth time. Tamara Cochrane’s volley through a forest of legs with two minutes left to play offered the home fans a meagre consolation.
Sunday 26 June
Canberra Olympic 1 (Ryan 33’) Canberra Croatia 1 (Barac 21’)
Wagga City Wanderers 2 (Castle 26’, Cochrane 88’) Gungahlin United 4 (N. De Marco 19’ (p), McGlashan 52’, Chao 55’, 84’)
Tuggeranong United 2 (Ceruti 46’, Stergiou 59’) West Canberra Wanderers 2 (Cannon 3’ (p), 35’)
Canberra United Academy v Belconnen United – Match Postponed
|3||West Canberra Wanderers||11||6||3||2||0||21|
|5||Canberra United Academy||10||3||2||5||-6||11|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||11||0||1||10||-66||1|
Words: Jeremy Magan