Tuggeranong United staged a smash and grab to earn their first point against Canberra Croatia for five years as Paige Gregson’s equaliser ten minutes from time secured a 1-1 draw against the League leaders at Greenway Enclosed.
The reigning champions were not able to break down a resilient and resolute United structure perfectly set up by Paulo Romero, and the home side was rewarded by a draw.
Zoran Glavinic’s side had most of the possession, and the best opportunities, but from the get-go found an inspired Samantha Emms in their way. Any attempt on target was dealt with by the shot stopper, from Grace Gill’s free kick to Brittany Palombi’s powerful left footed effort from close range.
It took a special effort from Krista Hagen to finally beat Emms, the midfielder’s shot from the edge of the box, perfectly swerved above the keeper’s arms and ended in the back of the net ten minutes before the break.
The defensive skills of Paulo Romero’s troops proved too much for their visitors and the back four, led by Lara Mustaine, the midfield and Jade Emms’ relentless press, and even Lily Nicholls’ tireless runs upfront, all worked together magnificently to slow down, anticipate, intercept, and eventually frustrate the Deakin armada.
The reward for the Tuggies came ten minutes before the full time whistle, when the unstoppable Emms recovered yet another ball, and slid in Gregson, whose arrowed shot fizzed past Nat Vasta in the Croatia goal and into the far corner. The home side fought to keep the point and celebrated it rightfully like a win when the final whistle was heard.
In the other catch-up match played on Thursday, Belconnen United took no prisoners against Gungahlin United winning 6-2 at the AIS. If Michelle Heyman swiftly answered to Talia Backhouse’s lobbed volley to make it 1-1 after ten minutes played, the Blue Devils’ four goals within 15 minutes either side of the break were too much for the visitors.
Tia Burridge was at the end of a speedy counterattack just before the teams went back to the locker room, and Tatum Mazis imitated it five minutes into the second half. Olivia Bomford’s corner found her captain Backhouse’s header to make it 4-1, before the number 10 decided to go at it alone, dribbling past a forest of Gungahlin player to finish from close range.
Heyman’s beautiful left footed effort with 15 minutes to go was too little too late, and the reply from Bianca Kimpton, an inspired chipped ball over Kailey Tonini, closed the evening.
The Gunners missed the chance to put some pressure on West Canberra with that defeat. The Blue Devils on the other end, seems readier than ever to battle it out in the post-season, and are now only three points behind Canberra Olympic, who still has a game in hand.
Thursday 25 August
Tuggeranong United 1 (Gregson 80’) Canberra Croatia 1 (Hagen 34’)
Belconnen United 6 (Backhouse 10’, 54’, Burridge 44’, Mazis 51’, Bomford 57’, Kimpton 90+1’) Gungahlin United 2 (Heyman 11’, 74’)
|4||West Canberra Wanderers||17||8||3||6||-11||27|
|6||Canberra United Academy||18||4||2||12||-20||14|
|8||Wagga City Wanderers||17||1||1||15||-85||4|