Ravens extinguish Olympic flame

Sydney Olympic 0 Gladesville Ravens 3

A fabulous second-half performance from Gladesville Ravens secured a precious three-point haul in a the Football NSW Girls Youth League Under 16 Division 1 as the visitors maintained their stranglehold on tenth position at the Peter Moore field. Goals from Angie Le Roux, Stef Lakic and Alexia Mavraidis blew out the scoreline that looked likely at half time even with the scores locked at 0-0. The away team even managed to hit the woodwork twice as they piled on the pressure on Sydney Olympic to stretch their lead in the mini league at the foot of the table as we enter the home straight.

An unseasonably warm and muggy day greeted both teams as a return to playing on grass was welcomed by the Ravens. The visitors started the game on the front foot, Alexia Mavraidis racing down the right to find space in the opening exchanges. A moment of concern though highlighted that Gladesville wouldn’t have it their own way, and Sylvie Karena’s backpass to goalkeeper Chloe McCredie gave her a difficult bouncing pass to control and Elise Biurra was straight on to it, Ravens getting away with it when Biurra was bundled over and no foul was awarded. Karena then played a long ball for Maya Jones, but the ball was well cut out by Julia Mallam in the Olympic goal.

When some sloppy defending led to a Ravens corner, Alessia Rizzuto lifted in the corner kick. The ball was allowed to bounce and was met by the incoming Anika Watson, who headed the ball into the net from close range under heavy pressure. Unbelievably, the referee considered the contact a handball, the goal was disallowed, and play resumed with the Olympic players smirking at the decision.

Jones then hassled well and played the ball out to Stef Lakic, who rode the challenge from her defender and shot, but Mallam made the save. The momentum was with the black and whites, Rizzuto and Lakic combined down the left before the ball was poked to Jones and her fierce shot was touched over the bar by Mallam. A corner by Rizzuto was then met by the head of Karena and Mallam somehow made the save as the Ravens piled on the pressure.

Isla Giron latched on to a ball from Lakic soon after, and shot just wide under a challenge, before Olympic had a chance on the break, Ava Pirozzi doing well to clear up in her own area and an Olympic striker trying her best to con the referee into awarding a penalty for the slightest of contact. Karena then went in strongly on her opponent that halted play for a moment; an incccuous handball from Pirozzi gave Olympic a free-kick when play resumed and Alana Ghany swung in the free-kick, McCredie diving but watching the ball past her left-hand post. Olympic began to press the advantage. Karen did well to make up the ground to make a last-ditch challenge, Emma Dugandzic almost broke through as the gaps started to appear at the back for the visitors, but McCredie was quick to react off her line.

A free kick by Ghany then had McCredie at full stretch, the ball bouncing off the bar. At the other end, Watson turned sweetly and struck a shot right into the backside of Jones, and Jones herself let fly from a long way out on the right hand side which didn’t miss the goal by much. Dugandzic then broke through, Aurelia Smith tracking her run, and her shot was pushed away by McCredie. Smith then played through Jones and a potential handball wasn’t called by the referee, and an absorbing first half came to a close with the game perfectly poised for more second-half entertainment.

Dugandzic raced up the right with the first move of the second half and her cross was well handled by McCredie as Olympic started the half with intent, but Ravens fasioned the first chance of the half. Sienna Bell did brilliantly to cross from the right, Jones met the ball on the volley and Mallam made the save. A free kick for handball then gave the Ravens a chance centrally, but Jones’ effort from distance wasn’t going to trouble Mallam. Bell’s all action game saw her then slice down her opponent, no card given, and Ravens continued to press, Jones running at the defence up the right to cross for Angie Le Roux, but her lay off to Mavraidis was too short and the chance was gone.

Ravens had upped the intensity. Lakic crossed, the shot from Mavraidis bounced into the path of Jones, whose snapshot on the turn was well saved by Mallam. Le Roux then played in Jones on the left of the penalty area, who shielded the ball well and was sent tumbling, but the referee again was unmoved. When Mallam could only palm a dangerous cross onto the head of Jones, the bumper crowd held its collective breath as the ball bounced off the bar; perhaps today was destined to end goalless.

Pirozzi and McCredie then dealt with a long through ball with the ultimate in calmness and good work by Bell forced the ball through for Jones. She rode through a challenge, slipped in Le Roux who benefited from a fortuitous bounce to finish under Mallam and the ball rolled in for the opening goal. Ravens had found the target finally. Rizzuto then played in Jones who shot early. Mallam made the save and Mavraidis just couldn’t turn in the rebound. The slender lead was under threat soon after when Dugandzic raced down the right to win a corner. The ball was swung in and got a slight touch which caused mayhem in front of McCredie’s goal, but the ball was forced wide and Ravens survived.

A great win in midfield by Angelina Zaiter saw her feed Mavraidis on the right; her fizzing cross was just ahead of Jones, but the ball ran through for the in-rushing Lakic, who turned the ball in to double the Ravens’ lead. The visitors had turned the screw and the game was all theirs. A free kick from Rizzuto was dinked over the top for Jones, Mallam saved and the rebound fell to Mavraidis on the line, but she couldn’t get the ball over the line thanks to some dogged defending. Rizzuto then won a ball in the middle of the park and played through Mavraidis, but she was expertly shepherded out wide. Sophia Grindlay then cut in and rifled in a shot that Mallam saved, and Mavraidis intercepted a wayward clearance to shoot just over the bar when a third goal looked likely.

The third goal was to come though, and it was excellent work by Bell on the right to pick the pocket of her defender and fire the ball into the area where Mavraidis looked the picture of confidence as she picked her spot to finish for 3-0. Rizzuto’s long range speculator to try and get on the scoresheet was spectacularly wide, and the final whistle sounded to end a second half of total domination by the Ravens.

While the Women’s World Cup had all eyes on the Sydney Football Stadium, this Football NSW Girls Youth League Under 16 Division 1 encounter in the suburbs of our great city captured the imagination of the next generation of footballers, and all credit to both teams for putting on an exciting contest.

Sydney Olympic travel to Macarthur Rams next week to try and get three points under their belts to keep up the chase with today’s opponent, while Gladesville Ravens entertain powerhouse Sydney University at Christie Park, buoyed by this result but wary of the double-digit scoreline achieved by their opponents today. Keep your eye on more top qualty action from Australia’s best youth football league.

Thanks for reading. No photo action today, our regular camera operator on World Cup duty. Hup hup Holland! Remember to like and share wherever you clicked through to this report.

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