Gladesville Ravens were involved in a scrappy affair at the home of football, Christie Park, on a day when the conditions won and goals were always going to be hard to find. This Girls Youth League Under 15 Division 2 fixture was played in beautiful sunshine, but blustery conditions prevented both teams from playing their best football. Formidable displays by goalkeepers Chloe McCredie and Paige Cuthill kept the scoresheet empty, and the visitors’ Demi Kandylas was unable to unlock the Ravens defence despite enjoying a lot of the ball. In the end both teams will be happy with a point today as the run in to the end of the season starts to intensify.
The home team came into this game on the back of a 13 game unbeaten run, but without their talismanic captain Alessia Rizzuto, and with Annika Lee a victim of Covid, that record was expected to come under scrutiny. The visitors boasted the lively Alana Kozul up front and the wily Eliza Mok in midfield, and Ravens had memories of their demolition at the hands of Kandylas from the previous season. Difficult conditions, a stiff breeze across the field making any passing difficult, meant that the game was littered with throw-ins and awkward bouncing balls, but Sophie Steele was the first to get a shot on goal, Maya Jones playing her in on the right and the right winger unleashed from distance straight at Cuthill.
When Kozul and Kandylas combined soon after, the tricky winger raced to the by line and crossed dangerously, Ravens getting bodies in the way, before Kandylas ballooned a pass into the area which Stef Lakic was alert to as St George tried to get meaningful possession. A break that ended with a pull back for Mok saw McCredie tested, getting behind the shot that was straight at her.
Ravens toiled without reward. Jones was played through but opted to shoot from long distance, with no support coming her way, before Anna Wroughton was upended in the middle of the park after a good battle with her opponent and Lakic lashed in a shot from fully 40 yards from the free kick that Cuthill fielded easily.
Jade Deura then found herself in space on the right and gave McCredie a nervous moment, watching the shot sail past her post, and the lively Deura then played in Lucy Coxsedge whose shot was wayward. St George were camped in and around the Ravens penalty area but couldn’t get through; even when Iskandar was left alone in the box, she couldn’t connect from the corner as the strong wind swirled around.
The introduction of Angie Le Roux gave the home team another outlet, and she linked up with Jones to fire in a shot from 30 yards that was wide of the mark. Another run down the right from Le Roux saw her deliver a cross that Cuthill did well to intercept ahead of Jones as Ravens pressed. Ella Moar did well to force in a cross from the left which Cuthill saved again, before good work by Anika Watson saw Jones and Le Roux combine again, but the cross was off target.
A first half of little quality then and only speculative shots on goal drew to a close. Tahlia Butcher and Ava Pirozzi had been busier than they would have liked in the first half, while St George edged the half with the best chances, albeit from a long way out.
Both teams traded good chances at the beginning of the second half – Charlotte Douglas swerved through two challenges to release Jones whose shot was well saved. Douglas got to the rebound and was blocked, the ball falling for Lakic who shot over. Up the other end, Kandylas weaved into the area and forced a great save by McCredie, and the follow up was athletically pushed behind, a great piece of goalkeeping by the Ravens keeper.
Kandylas again was free in the box a moment later, McCredie getting down smartly to push the ball away, and play immediately went to the opposite end, a brilliant run by Sienna Bell, a cross just behind Jones at the near post and Marli Williams fired the shot just past the far post in a thrilling move. Bell was finding some space down both flanks, and jinked past her player again only to run out of room for the cross.
St George were always a danger on the counter attack though, and Victoria Falas fired in a shot from distance that missed the target. Another great run by Jones though saw Ravens presented with perhaps the best chance of the game, Cuthill diving to push out the shot, and Williams firing a shot just wide of the post. Jackie Rice and Watson were terrific in midfield, harrying and hassling their players and restricting the visitors to long-range shots, Kozul firing in from 30 yards and McCredie saving well. The non-stop terrier-like play from Bell was keeping St George at bay, and even when Pirozzi was caught out trying to play the ball out of defence, Watson was there to sweep up the danger. Jas Waters and Ella Moar were combining well down the left, but it was the visitors who fashioned the next dangerous moments.
Deura played the ball to Mok whose lay-off was fired wide by Sophie Chew, before Juliet Apostlou played in Chew and this time McCredie was right behind it to save. A fabulous effort by Kozul was then saved by the busy McCredie, and Ravens were struggling to get the ball out of their half. Jones flicked a ball through for Moar, but she shot too early as the ball threatened to run away from her and Cuthill made a routine save.
A slip-up by Aurelia Smith at the back then presented St George with a good chance to snatch the win at the death, but the shot was tame and McCredie made a simple stop. The final moments were nervy, Watson clearing to touch to use up the final seconds.
The Ravens miserly defence was at it again today, another clean sheet to add to the collection, and whilst they had half-chances, there were very few moments when Cuthill’s goal was truly in danger. Both St George and the Ravens appeared happy to have shared the spoils today in a game marred by the conditions; the unbeaten run for the home team now stretching to 14 games.
Gladesville travel to powerhouse Central Coast Mariners next week, weather permitting, while St George also have a tricky fixture against Hills United. With results all going to form, both teams slipped down the table, but remain firmly in contention for a top four finish come September. The Girls Youth League is heating up. See you all next week.
Many thanks to Matt and Steve for some great photos, and a shout-out to Maya’s family in South Australia who are loving these weekly round-ups. Your positive feedback is appreciated!