Ravens’ reality check at the Bean

Northern Tigers 3 Gladesville Ravens 0

Fresh from the Proctor Cup in Bathurst and with high-tempo training sessions midweek, Gladesville Ravens Girls Youth League Division One Under 16s went into a pre-season fixture with Northern Tigers beginning to understand the step up required from Division Two. The Ravens were comprehensively outplayed by their high-achieving opponents at Charles Bean Oval in Lindfield, but will come away from the game with a better understanding of what they will face this season. Goalkeepers Chloe McCredie and Jemma Horley can hold their heads high after a busy half each, but a lack of attacking options made this a difficult day for the rest of the players in a three-goal reverse.

Northern Tigers made a quick start to the game, stringing passes together and prising open the Ravens defence at will. Maya Jones gave Ravens some respite though with a dart down the right to keep the Tigers’ defence alert, but it was one-way traffic thereafter. Blake Hughes was the source of much of the attacking from her deep midfield position, and she threatened to dribble all the way through, Aurelia Smith stopping her with a last-ditch tackle.

The powerful Ariana Garland-Powell was the pivotal player for the Tigers, her presence at the base of the midfield giving her team a starting point for all the probing and pressing, and Sophie Justinek was regulary making good progress down the wing. An opening goal was quick to come, and it was a ricochet in the box that had the Ravens scrambling, the ball falling for Keeley McGregor to prod the ball home for 1-0. The marvellously-named Margarida Da Silva Martins E Vicente was next on the scoresheet, cutting inside from the left to meet a ball from the right and she flashed a shot inside the left-hand post for a terrific second, McCredie given no chance.

McGregor was then stopped by Isla Giron when she looked odds-on to score, Martins E Vicente then cut in with a replica move of the goal she scored to rifle in a shot that McCredie saved well.

It was unrelenting as Justinek fired just over, before Ravens had their best moment of the half, a free-kick from the right delivered by captain Alessia Rizzuto, and the ball fell for Smith who fired in a shot that was blocked well by the scrambling Tigers defence. Zoe Twining was then caught trying to play out of her penalty area, pick-pocketed by two Tigers attackers, and Isabella Ziolkowski blazed over from in front, unmarked and with McCredie’s goal at her mercy. A great run by the lively Justinek then set up Ziolkowski for a shot, but the ball was lashed out of play over the sideline for a throw-in.

Two goals the margin at the break, and it could and should have been more. The Ravens defence had been busy but McCredie even moreso.

A fantastic move down the right by Justinek then set up Martins E Vicente to rasp a shot at goal; the ball hit the bar from keeper Horley’s hands and the Ravens keeper was happy to see the rebound come down into her arms. This was a baptism of fire for the second half and Tigers were looking good for more. Hughes threaded a great pass to Ziolkowski but Horley was out smartly to block and McGregor then headed over from a corner.

Ravens then fashioned a great move. Alexia Mavraidis turned sweetly in the centre of the park and released Jones, through one-on-one with the goalkeeper. The keeper had advanced well outside her box, and without a thought made the save with her hands. While those watching were fearing the worst outcome for the Tigers’ guardian, a call from the sideline from the Ravens bench encouraged the referee to take no further action against the goalkeeper and she simply received a forthright explanation that she would have been sent off if this was not a trial game. It was a heart-warming moment of commonsense from all involved; there would be no merit in penalising the goalkeeper in a trial game when both teams are trying to work out how to play together, and the referee handled it very well.

Ravens had a chance though from a free-kick on the edge of the area. Rizzuto stepped up to curl in a shot that was well saved, the rebound falling to Sophia Grindlay who fired over from close range with players snapping at her like wolves. A tug of the shirt, not for the first time today, by Rizzuto then gave Tigers a chance to whip in their own free kick. Horley made a great save, but on the follow up was Aimee Hall to head the ball home, ending up on the ground in a heap. A misplaced pass by Smith was then fired in from an acute angle that Horley saved well, and she was again busy, saving a shot in an unorthodox fashion from Ziolkowski to keep the score to three.

Foul throws had crept in to Ravens’ game, a sign of a lack of concentration as the hot conditions took their toll, and this one-sided fixture continued with Tigers’ domination to the end, a great chance put over the bar, and then a strike from out wide by Martins E Vicente flashing just past the post. Ravens were by now gifting the ball back to Tigers with every clearance, but the score was to remain three and the referee brought the contest to a close.

Missing two players from the squad who were playing up in Under 18s was no excuse today. Northern Tigers, a well-drilled outfit last year in Under 15s, looked very strong and looked like a team who had played together for years, the passing into feet and swift decision-making a pleasure to watch. There should have been more goals on the scoreboard, but both teams will be able to take a lot out of this game as preparations continue for the 2023 NPL Girls Youth League Division One, kicking off in next month.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to have a browse around this blog. There are lots of match reports from previous years, as well as Sydney FC, Matildas, Socceroos reports, book reviews and even a World Cup blog from Qatar.

Note : If anyone from Northern Tigers would like to correct the names used in this report, feel free to contact me – no teamsheet this week to work from!

One thought on “Ravens’ reality check at the Bean

  1. Excellent recap of the game – wasn’t able to be there because of a basketball tournament so this report in detail really made my day! Thx for writing so fairly and unbiased too! Ps Izabella (not Isabella) but overly impressed you spelled our last name correct 😉

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