Battling Ravens stem the flow

FNSW Institute 5 Gladesville Ravens 1

A battling second-half performance from Gladesville Ravens in the Football NSW Girls Youth League Under 16 Division 1 allowed the visitors to walk away from a difficult fixture at the home of football, Valentine Sports Park, with their heads held high. Catalina Wyrzynski had the hosts ahead early on, but a free-kick soon after from Isla Giron brought the scores level. Olivia Segafredo restored the lead for Institute, Wyrzynski added the third, and Segafredo put the result beyond doubt just before the break with another fine free-kick. Despite a fifth Institute goal, perhaps down to a mix-up in the Ravens defence, a routine finish from Mikaela Gavranic into the unguarded net, the visitors battled hard for the remaining 25 minutes to prevent any further scoring.

Ravens were without hamstring victim Alexia Mavraidis and captain Alessia Rizzuto, goalkeeper Jemma Horley recovering from a head-knock the week before but Stef Lakic was passed fit. A cold morning gave way to glorious conditions in Glenwood, the beaming sunshine making things hot on the field while the parents shivered in the shady concrete stand. Institute started well, a cross flashed across the face of Chloe McCredie’s goal and Ellie Enlund raced down the right to win an early corner. Ravens dealt with the corner, but the danger was still present down the right, and when Hope Cleur drilled in a cross, Segafredo flicked the ball nonchalently into the path of Wyrzynski, who finished well, McCredie given no chance. Three minutes in, Institute a goal to the good, surely they would pile on the pressure and go looking for more.

Almost immediately from the kick off, Ravens found themselves on the attack. A bouncing ball was controlled by Anika Watson and she fed Sylvie Karena, who battled for the ball with her defender. A harsh handball call on Esra Turudu as the ball bounced up saw the referee award a free-kick on the right-hand edge of the penalty area. Ravens had players in the box, the wall was in place. Giron stepped up and floated the ball high over the wall, over Hannah Callaghan’s outstretched hand and into the net for a quick-fire equalising goal. Ravens were delighted, the ledger squared and we had a game on our hands.

Institute continued to attack. Wyrzynski beat Smith up the left and sent in a cross that went across the goal, begging for a touch, before Segafredo fed Wyrzynski, but the offside flag was up quickly. Midfield enforcer Sienna Bell was penalised for a crunching tackle on the Institute left; Turudu stepped up to take the kick, but McCredie was right behind it. A delightful move then unlocked the Ravens defence. Lana Elkordi and Enlund combined up the right in a sweeping move, McCredie had no choice but to commit to intercept, but she was powerless to stop the cross and Segafredo rolled the ball into the empty net for 2-1.

Ravens had their bright moments. Smith intercepted and fed Maya Jones. The dummy run by Smith allowed Jones to jink inside and fire in a shot, but it was well wide. The combination of Elkordi and Enlund was thwarted by Smith, and a period of end-to-end action continued as Giron played a fantastic ball to Jones, who cut in and fired wide under pressure. Wyrzynski was left free on the Ravens left, but Ava Pirozzi made the challenge to concede the corner, before Laura Errichiello shot from distance, and McCredie was right behind it.

Giron took one touch too many and was dispossessed, Pirozzi coming to the reacue with a timely intervention, then Elkordi set Wyrzynski free, who spurned a glorious opportunity, firing wide when well-placed. Institute then let off the Ravens a second time after McCredie had sold Smith short. Segafredo played the ball back into the area for Enlund, but her shot was wide of the gaping goal and the visitors had survived another great chance.

It was one-way traffic by now. Wyrzynski blazed over but was adjudged to have been offside again, and then a long-range free-kick from Gemma Odes was smartly saved by McCredie. Ravens were finally undone when a speculative ball was launched in to Segafredo. She controlled and laid the ball in to Wyrzynski, who reacted with an instinctive curling shot that beat the despairing dive of McCredie and nestled into the bottom right corner of the net, an exquisite finish.

Institute threatened to run riot at this point. Elkordi lifted in a cross, Milla Singleton connected with the header and McCredie saved. Cleur fed Enlund, but the flag was quickly up, before Lakic crunched Odes leaving her on the ground in a heap. Angelina Zaiter was on the receiving end soon after, smashed to the ground requiring treatment, and there were some colourful scrapes on a number of players’ arms and knees. As half-time approached, Enlund played in Singleton, who was tripped by Giron. No card given, but as the wall bounced like a real-life Whack-a-mole game, up stepped Segafredo to curve a shot over the wall and past McCredie for 4-1. Ravens had battled hard, but were well behind as the whistle sounded and the players retreated to the cold changing rooms to regroup.

This would be a real test for Gladesville Ravens. McCredie was called into action to save down low in the first minute of the second half as Institute surged forward. Claire Denning made headway down the right, beating Lakic, but McCredie was able to punch the ball away. Denning was tormenting the Ravens defence, this time beating Pirozzi and firing in a cross that Sinead Fisher did well to clear. A brief period of respite for the visiting team saw Jones fouled and Giron deliver a free-kick that was easily dealt with by the home defence. Denning and her teammate on the opposite wing, Mikaela Gavranic, were tearing Ravens apart, and Hayley Hazouri was outstanding in the middle of midfield as the chances continued.

However, the fifth goal was as unfortunate as it was ugly. McCredie was well-placed to claim an over-hit through ball when her teammate Abby Duggan dummied to leave the ball at the last moment after reacting to the shouts, completely wrong-footing the unlucky McCredie and the ball rolled through for Gavranic to prod the ball home for 5-1.

Denning sent in a cross-shot after beating Lakic wth her trickery, that just cleared the corner of post and bar, Sophie Grindlay was unlucky to give the ball away and Gavranic couldn’t believe it when her shot went wide. A corner fell to the feet of Hazouri who blazed over when well-placed, then Gavranic’s dynamic run down the left saw her cross beat McCredie, and Smith almost sliced the ball into her own net, the Ravens’ defender relieved to see the ball roll past the post.

Ravens were under siege. Matilda Dias Wadewitz jinked into the box on a mazy run but a great tackle by Zoe Twining prevented the shot. There were some moments at the other end though, and a back-header was pounced on by Jones, but she was crowded out. Lakic then tried to unlock the Institute defence, embarking on a lung-busting run, but she was eventually pulled up for a foul and Ravens were forced back on the defensive.

Denning danced down the right and crossed to Gavranic, unmarked at the far post, but she somehow put the ball wide. Gavranic then returned the favour, her exciting run and cross down the left ending up at the feet of Denning, whose shot was well saved down low by McCredie. The unsupported solo run was the only option for the visitors, Jones almost getting through until she was forced wide, but it was Institute who kept on pushing. Denning had no right to keep the ball in up the right, somehow getting to the ball to stop it dead on the byline, before Gavranic was upended on the edge of the area for a dangerous free kick. This time, the shot was high over McCredie’s goal.

Wadewitz then jinked through and teed up Denning to finish, but the flag was raised to deny the home team once more. Denning again carved a path down the right and delivered a superb cross, but McCredie read it and pounced, some excellent handling denying another clear chance. Pirozzi then brought down Wadewitz, who got up to fire in a free-kick, but it was high and wide.

The verve and control of Wadewitz was mesmerising at times, but the offside flag was against the home side. The game ended with an all-time greatest sledge as McCredie, clad all in orange, had committed to racing out of her goal and Wadewitz was again caught offside, the Institute forward delivering the comedic line “You got lucky, you carrot” to laughs from the players as the final whistle sounded.

Ravens had battled well in the second half, a show of defiance against a team stacked with quality. Some of this Institute team will feature in the A-League Women before too long, Denning and Gavranic outstanding in the second half, Segafredo and Wyrzynski impressive in the first, the bustling Hazouri offering something different and the live-wire Wadewitz too hot to handle. The visitors can walk away with their pride intact and their knees missing skin, and they will be looking to kick-start their season from here.

Institute travel to take on the Emerging Jets next week, while the Ravens have a crunch game with Banktown City at Christie Park as they look to break this sequence of defeats against a side struggling for goals this season. A big week of preparation ahead as this exciting 2023 season heads towards the FIFA Womens World Cup in just over five week’s time.

Join us next week for more Girls Youth League Under 16 Division One action, and don’t forget to like and share where you clicked on this link.

Thanks for reading. Any inaccuracies, let me know. The names were a little tricky this week and I may have got some wrong!

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