In another week impacted by the weather, only two games took place in Round 5. Three of the four teams who played in the Federation Cup Semi-Finals were back at it, with different fate: one drew, and the second beat the third.
At Deakin Stadium, Canberra Croatia hosted Gungahlin United on a wet pitch, that was mostly playable at the time of kick-off. The two teams started the game on the front foot, and despite a goalless first half, chances from Isabella Barac and Ginger Oliver forced the two goalkeepers, Emily Kelly, and Maddie Angel, to showcase their talent to keep their net untouched.
The second half was another story. Canberra Croatia has in their ranks one of the best strikers our competition has even seen. Brittany Palombi is unstoppable on her day, and at Deakin this weekend, she came back from the locker room with clear intent and her sight on goals.
Five minutes into a second act dominated by the home team, the captain was found in the middle of the box, and her unusual right foot proved as trustworthy as her left when she finished a well-built offensive move.
Half a Gungahlin chance later, Palombi was right at the end of another transition play, and this time her left foot allowed her to put the ball past Kelly from a narrow angle. Eleven minutes in the second half, Canberra Croatia seemed destined to earn their fourth success this season.
Yet suddenly the Croatia defence started bending under the Gunners’ pressure. Rather than giving up, Andrew Woodman launched Sharon Chao and Darby Whiteley on the pitch, and the momentum immediately shifted Gungahlin’s way. Once again, two goals would be scored in under ten minutes, once again by a stalwart of our competition.
Erika Pennyfield has scored harder goals than the two she netted to bring a point back from Deakin. The first one happened at the end of the epitome of a scramble in the box, with Angel and Fensom making separate stops on their line before finally seeing a last flick by Pennyfield finding the back of the net.
The second one came with a bit of luck: a long cross from Michell Wienecke bounced on Diane Wilson’s back, offering Whiteley a one versus one against Angel. The ‘keeper superbly stopped Whiteley’s attempt, only for Pennyfield to bury her second on the day on the rebound to earn a point.
Canberra Olympic ‘s game, albeit delayed, was played on Sunday too, at Hawker Football Centre against Canberra United Academy. The duel between the two Federation Cup Semi-Finals losers started on a solid rhythm, with both teams having their moment without really threatening the opposite keeper.
Unable to pass through a solid Academy defence at first, Nicole Begg players decided to try their luck from distance, and after a couple of attempts off target, Nicole Jalocha ended up adjusting her aim just after the half hour mark. Her shot from 25 metres dipped perfectly in the top right corner, putting her team in the lead.
Matthew Moore’s young players try to answer, but like their midweek encounter, failed to offer real threats in the last third. Instead, they would be punished again, in the first half stoppage time. Olivia Gurney’s run ended with Maddy Whittall facing Georgia Ritchie alone, and the striker perfectly found the bottom corner to get to the locker room with a comfortable lead.
Back from the break, a similar game was on display, and with the Academy still unable to approach Janet King, Olympic remained patient and waited for their opportunity to put an end to the game. Gurney again was at the start of that chance. Her cross found Michaela Thornton, who, after a lucky deflection, was sharp enough to jump on the rebound to tap it past the Academy keeper.
Sunday 7 May
Canberra Croatia 2 (Palombi 50’, 55’) Gungahlin United 2 (Pennyfield 72’, 78’)
ANU WFC v West Canberra Wanderers – Match Postponed
Tuggeranong United v Belconnen United – Match Postponed
Canberra United Academy 0 Canberra Olympic 3 (Jalocha 33’, Whittall 45’, Thornton 69’)
|5||Canberra United Academy||4||2||0||2||5||7||-2||6|
|8||West Canberra Wanderers||4||0||0||4||1||9||-8||0|
6 Brittany PALOMBI (Canberra Croatia)
4 Bessie RIETHMULLER (Belconnen United)
3 Kiera BOBBIN (Belconnen United), Tia BURRIDGE (Canberra Olympic), Michaela THORNTON (Canberra Olympic)
2 Isabella BARAC (Canberra Croatia), Charli MITCHELL (Canberra Croatia), Ginger OLIVER (Gungahlin United), Erika PENNYFIELD (Gungahlin United), Roxie SWART (ANU WFC)
1 Latisha BABIC (Canberra United Academy), Ella-Rose BROWN (Gungahlin United), Tamara COCHRANE (Canberra United Academy), Alexandra COOK (Canberra Olympic), Alyssa DI-CAMPLI (Canberra United Academy), Hattie CRAM (Belconnen United), Rhiannon FENSOM (Canberra Croatia), Charli GREGSON (Tuggeranong United), Nicole JALOCHA (Canberra Olympic), Sarah MATTHEWS (Tuggeranong United), Alexandra NEALAND (Canberra United Academy), Rainey NILES (Tuggeranong United), Nikita PERRY (West Canberra Wanderers), Madeleine STEINACKER (Belconnen United), Darby WHITELY (Gungahlin United), Madelyn WHITTALL (Canberra Olympic), Elisha WILD (Canberra United Academy), Juliet WILLIAMS (ANU WFC), Reilly YUEN (Belconnen United)