Sydney University 7 Gladesville Ravens 0
Week 10 of the Football NSW Girls Youth League Under 16 Division 1 gave us a fixture between Sydney University and Gladesville Ravens that went completely to form as the home team served up a treat for mothers day in front of a healthy crowd at the impressive Sydney University football ground. A hat-trick from Olivia Vanderlaan was complemented with a tidy Georgia Lim finish, two goals for Sienna Beram and a close-range Ryah Mokoia effort, and there was scope for more had it not been for Chloe McCredie in the Ravens goal. The difference between the two teams was in the final third, but the Ravens did match their opponents with their enterprise in midfield and will be encouraged going into their next game.
A beautiful moment pre-game saw the mothers walk out with their daughters to mark the beginning of mother’s day celebrations. Ravens continued to miss their influential holding midfielder Anika Watson, but they were bolstered again by Monique Lekkas and captain Alessia Rizzuto was back in the starting line-up. The game started at a fast pace, and Uni had a free-kick within a minute as Ava Pirozzi was adjudged to have handled. Whilst the home team didn’t take full advantage, they did a few minutes later when Beram was set free through the middle and finished calmly, but turned to see the assistant referee’s flag in the air and the goal was disallowed for the most marginal of offsides.
Tayla Murgovski and Lucia Bennett were kept busy at the other end of the field, as Ravens built well up the right, but it was the Ravens defence that was constantly under pressure, McCredie fielding a cross from the left and smothering the ball, Aurelia Smith pulling out of a clearance that would have taken her teammate’s head off. A clever interception by Stef Lakic gave her the chance to thread a great ball through for Alexia Mavraidis, but she could only fire into the side-netting when well placed, the Uni goal under threat so early in the game.
Another Uni raid up the left from Lim then saw a dangerous cross cleared, a Beram free-kick was saved by McCredie and another low cross from the right was well fielded by the Ravens goalkeeper. Fabulous work up the Ravens right then saw Mavraidis and Maya Jones combine, Jones advancing at pace and delivering a low ball into the area that no one anticipated. The game was even, both teams getting into good positions, but the final touch not forthcoming.
That all changed when Beram turned sweetly out on the right and delivered a tantalising cross for Vanderlaan, who swept the ball home under McCredie for the opening goal of the game. The move was clinical and somewhat unexpected. Mokoia then slipped in Vanderlaan who advanced on goal, and her shot went across McCredie and just wide of the post, a let-off for the visitors as the home team threatened to run riot. Jones then cut out a misdirected clearance by virtual bystander Siena Baudana in the Uni goal, and Lekkas advanced to shoot, but it lacked power and direction and Baudana breathed a sigh of relief.
Ravens found themselves two goals behind soon after, a looping cross from the right finding Lim in acres of space, her right foot finish perfectly placed to score against her old club. A moment of controversy then followed as a cross was swung in from the left; Beram connected with a thumping header that smashed off the bar and down onto the line. McCredie leapt on the ball to smother, but the referee and assistant decided that the ball had crossed the line, and the third goal stood, amidst genuine belief in the Ravens defence that the ball had not gone in. The Veo replay of the game is eagerly awaited to confirm the goal, or not as the case may be. Whatever the case, it was another devastating move by Sydney Uni, and they were in danger of putting their opponents to the sword.
Ravens then conjured up a great move up the left. Sylvie Karena skipped down the line and played in Lekkas. She took on her player and chipped the perfect cross right on to the head of Mavraidis, unmarked at the far post, but she couldn’t keep her header down and the ball sailed over the bar, a great chance going begging in the process.
A fabulous turn by Sari McKenzie led to a snapshot that McCredie saved, before the home side ended the half on a high, Beram racing on to a glorious through ball, holding off her defender and producing a devastating finish, McCredie given no chance as the scoreboard showed 4-0 at the break. This had been a difficult first half for the visitors, and their neat approach work was not matched with the required cutting edge in attack to unlock the staunch Uni defence.
Ravens started brightly in the second half, Sophie Grindlay fouled on the right to give them a potential sight on goal, but the Uni defence held firm. It was from here onwards that we experienced the full force of Jakeelie Hook up the Uni left. She bundled through three challenges to fire wide with McCredie diving at full stretch. Karena did have a half chance at the other end, firing harmlessly wide when well placed, but Uni kept coming.
Hook again turned her player and got into position for the shot, McCredie saving well, before Hook and Beram combined, Beram flashing a cross across goal inviting a finish, but none of her teammates had gambled on making the run into the box. Sinead Fisher had her hands full dealing with the threat up he Uni left, Hook again firing in a shot that McCredie saved, before Bennett played in Hook for another shot that McCredie was right behind. The Ravens were battling for every ball, but Hook again turned inside Lakic to flash a ball across the face of the goal.
Isla Giron then misplaced a pass playing out from defence. Bennett was straight onto it and advanced to fire a searing shot just over the bar, a warning shot perhaps. That was soon followed by a moment that underlined the superiority of the home team, Ravens offering no challenge from a McCredie clearance, Vanderlaan picking up the ball in the middle of the park and firing an outrageous shot over the Ravens’ goalkeeper and into the net for the fifth goal of the game.
Ravens finally got some respite from the onslaught when Grindlay battled well to get away up the right, but the tackle that would have yielded a corner on any other day bounced off her for a goal kick. Angelina Zaiter was then fouled, Rizzuto firing wide of the target from the resulting free-kick, and a further free-kick by Isla Giron saw Mavraidis turn the ball into the penalty area, but it came too quickly for Jones and the reaction could only send the ball wide, the assistant’s flag likely to hve been raised had the ball gone in.
Vanderlaan then danced up the left and put a cross onto the head of the in-coming Mokoia, but her header was ballooned over from close range and a great chance had gone begging. Ravens then had another great opportunity after Lara Green had won a corner. Rizzuto lifted the ball in, and the clearance fell to Bell, unmarked ten yards out, but her shot was scuffed wide with Baudana watching it past the post, the tenacious midfield cursing her luck.
Another terrific run by Hook up the left saw her eventually get the better of Smith and deliver another ball across the goal, and this time the attackers had reacted correctly, Mokoia somewhat apologetically touching the ball home for a sixth Uni goal from close range, benefitting from a static back line who gave her all the time in the world at the far post.
Mokoia was close to adding to the total, sending her shot just wide of the post, and McCredie had to get across smartly to touch a shot from distance around the post for a corner. That eventually led to the a seventh goal of the game for Uni, Vanderlaan smashing a shot goalwards that took a convenient deflection, looping over McCredie and into the net and Ravens’ off-day was complete.
There was still time for Vanderlaan to race through on goal, but McCredie raced out to save bravely at her feet. Lim then tricked her way into the area and made space for a shot, but she could only hit the side netting and another great chance was gone. The shrill blast of the referee’s whistle was blessed relief for the visitors, as this procession was brought to a close. Sydney Uni had given a thoroughly professional account of themselves and shown the Ravens, fresh from division 2, that they have a long way to go to bridge the gap between themselves and the top half of the table.
Today had been special for two Uni players, Sienna Beram and Georgia Lim facing their former teammates, and there were plenty of smiles and hugs at the end of the game. This had been a fabulous experience for the Ravens at what must rank as the number one venue to watch a game of NPL women’s football. From a free match programme, a full bar serving beer and wine, a huge main stand with sponsored seats and changing facilities that made the girls feel like professional footballers, this was a taste of top flight football that took the edge off the disappointment of today’s result.
Sydney University now move on to face FNSW Institute next week in a spicy fixture, while Ravens entertain APIA Leichhardt at Christie Park next Sunday looking to right the wrongs of today and get back to winning ways.
Thanks as always for reading. Remember, a share and a like will go a long way to spreading the word and getting more people to read all about your Gladesville Ravens GYL Under 16 Division 1 team. Up the Ravens!