Gladesville Ravens 1 Emerging Jets 3
Gladesville Ravens passed up a glorious opportunity to add to their meagre points total in the Football NSW Girls Youth League Under 16 Division 1 and suffered another home defeat at Christie Park on Sunday morning. A Penny Clarke free-kick had the Jets ahead, but a close-range finish from Sophia Grindlay brought the scores level at half time. Goals from Jasmine Williams and livewire Mackenzie Preston-Poole saw the Jets punish the Ravens, who carved out numerous opportunities but were ineffectual in front of goal. This was a wake-up call for the home side, who now know that three points is not guaranteed from any opponent in this exciting division.
The Emerging Jets were off and running quickly as the cool morning gave way to bright warm sunshine, and Williams had the first chance right at the start of the game, racing up the right and firing in a shot that Ravens’ goalkeeper Chloe McCredie pushed over the bar. The resulting corner was teased across goal by captain Clarke, the ball bouncing off the inside of the far post before being hacked away, and Ravens knew straight away that they had a game on their hands. A midfield arm-wrestle then opened up when Isla Giron played a searching ball up the right for Ravens’ Maya Jones to run onto, and she outpaced her defender, goalkeeper Tallon Convery choosing to stay in goal, and Jones fired in a shot that went into the side-netting past the Jets’ keeper’s outstretched hand.
A clever nutmeg by Lara Green saw her run through the middle halted by a tug of the shirt, some 35 yards from goal. Alessia Rizzuto stepped up to take the free kick, and fired in a shot that bounced in front of Convery, who could only touch the ball onto the underside of the bar. There was no one following up to apply the finish and Convery gratefully grabbed the rebound to smother the danger. The exciting trio of Jones, Rizzuto and Alexia Mavraidis then combined down the right with some exquisite one-touch football, but the final ball was evading them.
At the other end a snapshot from Macy Johnson forced McCredie into a flying save to tip the ball away for a corner. Clarke continued to take all the set-pieces, but Ravens fdealt with the danger well.
A handball on the Ravens’ left gave Stef Lakic the opportunity to fire in a right-foot shot from distance that sailed wide, and the Jets were fortunate when Ella Hunter’s hopeful back-header didn’t beat Convery, who had committed to racing out of her goal and was almost deceived, her quick reflexes preventing a calamitous own goal. Ravens continued the pressure, Giron’s free kick evaded the last defender and Green raced in on goal, but Convery was out quickly to get a hand to the ball and pounce on the rebound.
The tricky Williams made advances up the right before crossing low into the area, McCredie doing well to save, and she repeated the action a few moments later, this time Makayla Clifton unable to get any power on the header and the chance was gone. A free kick was awarded on the Jets’ left and Clarke was across to take it; she fired in a shot that took McCredie by surprise and flew into the net for the opening goal. It was a deserved lead, but Ravens had squandered two identical opportunities previously; the Jets definitely knew their way to goal.
Ravens were back on the attack straight away. Sinead Fisher’s quick throw found Sylvie Karena, whose smart turn set up a shooting opportunity, but the ball was just past the post. Green then won the ball and set herself up for a shot from distance, but the ball rolled meekly through to Convery. A great turn by Grindlay then teed up another shooting opportunity, and again the shot lacked power and Convery was untroubled.
A moment of controversy followed. Karena was played through one-on-one with Convery in the Jets’ goal, the bouncing ball teeing up a chance for a big collision. Karena reached the ball first and was flattened by Convery, albeit well outside the box, and the referee pulled out the yellow card, the covering defenders preventing the colour being red. Another good chance then for Ravens, Karena dusting herself off to strike a shot that was well wide of the goal.
The home team then coughed up possession in midfield and Williams was played in for a run on goal, but the offside flag saved the Ravens, the ball slotted wide of the goal in any case. Amaya Shaw fired in a shot that went just over the bar as Jets continued to probe. Just as the half looked to be coming to an end with Ravens trailing, a fabulous move unlocked the Jets defence. Aurelia Smith’s long free kick into the channel saw Karena race through on the right and sweep in a beautiful cross. Green’s shot was parried by goalkeeper Convery and there was Grindlay on the spot to finish from right in front, wheeling away in delight at what was a well-crafted goal. The timing of the goal was ideal for the Ravens, the referee bringing the half to a close moments later and the home side had brought the scores level to change the complexion of the half time team talk by coach Dali.
The visitors started the second half as they started the first, Williams clean through but McCredie parried and dropped onto the ball in relief to deny the Jets once again. Ravens defender Ava Pirozzi then did well to intercept a deflected cross to force the ball behind for a corner, and Preston-Poole was terrorising the home team’s defence up the right.
Ravens did fashion a chance soon after though, Karena racing down the right and delivering a cross that Grindlay fired over the bar. But it was the Jets who looked the most dangerous, as Preston-Poole raced away down the right again and flashed in a cross. There was confusion as the ball was forced towards goal and Smith was there to deflect the ball off the line, a massive let-off for the home side, who were offering little resistance to the rampant Jets’ wing play. The game had opened up into an end-to-end thriller. Smith received a ball out wide and threaded a delicious ball through for Grindlay, but Convery beat her to it.
All of a sudden, the Jets reclaimed the lead and it was down the right-hand side again, and Williams was completely unmarked as she cut in and delivered a delightful finish low past McCredie, who had come out to narrow the angle but was powerless to prevent the ball hitting the net for 2-1.
When Rizzuto was chopped down in the middle of the park, up stepped Giron to deliver a ball into the area. Karena ran on to the ball, but Convery was out quickly. In a flash, the ball had squirmed out of her grasp, but Karena had turned her back. By the time she realised the ball was there to poke into the empty net, across came Aja Psarris to block right on the line, and the only reward for the Ravens was a corner. The resulting corner by Rizzuto was cleared to Grindlay, but again the shot sailed over the bar.
Jets were under pressure, but they always had the swift counter-attack at their disposal and Williams played in Shaw who raced on to fire the ball over the bar. Angelina Zaiter was then fouled thirty yards from goal. Rizzuto stepped up, but the shot was weak and well wide of Convery’s goal, another tame effort on goal that posed no danger.
Johnson then wriggled clear on the left, McCredie was out of goal in a flash and Johnson’s shot bounced wide, Preston-Poole unable to convert at the far post despite being unmarked. Preston-Poole was having the freedom of the right-hand side, and she was set free again, this time a cross-shot fired across goal by Clarke. There were still goals in this game, but it wasn’t clear which way they would go.
A free kick was delivered by Rizzuto into the area, where Green had a great chance, but somehow turned the ball wide of Convery’s goal after the visitors’ goalkeeper committed early. Clarke then slashed a wild clearance out for a corner before Jones cut in from the right, beat three players, but her shot was saved. Mavraidis was fouled on the left and Rizzuto again swung in a cross into the danger zone, this time Giron was there with a clever back-header that bounced wide. Convery’s goal was under siege. Jones then turned brilliantly, but her final touch was too heavy and she was denied again by Convery.
Again it was heavy pressure by the Ravens, but the breakaway was always a possibility, and Preston-Poole was freed again on the right to flash a cross straight across the goal with the home defence stretched. Ravens then conjured up another chance, Jones to Rizzuto, but her lob was well wide of the goal. And that then led to the deciding goal, and it was the Jets who scored it, a delightful pass inside the defence for Preston-Poole to run on to. McCredie chose to stay on her line this time, but the shot from a difficult angle was perfect and the Jets had their third goal to wrap things up.
The final five minutes was all Ravens. Green powered up the right and delivered a cross for Jones, who turned and her shot was well saved. Convery was busy. Green again marauded down the right and smashed in a shot that was saved and cleared off the line, Green again tracking down the rebound to fire in a low cross, and Mavraidis got under the ball and sent it into orbit. There was a final move where Rizzuto and Jones combined, but the ball got away from the Ravens’ striker and the referee brought the game to its conclusion.
Ravens had been outscored by their opponents despite matching them, and despite creating more clear chances than the visitors, they lacked the cutting edge required to win the game. Full credit to the Emerging Jets, who belied their lowly position in the league table to see out the win; Clarke and Preston-Poole were stand-out performers today, the latter providing lightning pace that the Ravens defence simply could not deal with.
The Jets host APIA Leichhardt next week in a difficult fixture, but where to now for Gladesville Ravens? Their confidence is in need of a revival, and they travel to Northern Tigers next up, hoping to avenge a poor defeat in pre-season and looking to put in a performance that kick-starts this stuttering first season in Division One. There is work to be done on the training pitch this week, stay tuned for more exciting action from the FNSW Girls Youth League next weekend.
Thanks for reading – as always, if something is incorrect, let me know!