Womens National League 2008-2009 Season Playoffs




written by Thomas Esamie



Grand Final (Winner SF1 v Winner SF2)
Played (17/01/09) Ballymore
Referee : Kate Jacewicz, Crowd : 4554
Queensland Roar
Casey Dumont, Kate McShea, Karla Reuter, Clare Polkinghorne, Brooke Spence, Elise Kellond-Knight, Lana Harch (Ruth Blackburn 85), Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Courtney Beutel (Tashina Roma 84), Ellen Beaumont (Stephanie Latham 75)
Goals : Harch 6, Butt 26
Coach : Jeff Hopkins
2 - 0 Canberra United
Lydia Williams, Rhian Davies (Nicole Sykes 80), Amy Chapman (Ashleigh Sykes 46), Sasha McDonnell, Caitlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Grace Gill, Hayley Crawford, Cian Maciejewski, Kara Mowbray, Thea Slatyer
Coach : Robbie Hooker


report by someone


Semi-Final 2 (2nd v 3rd)
Played (10/01/09) EnergyAustralia Stadium
Referee : Sara Hodson, Crowd : 2889
Newcastle Jets
Alison Logue, Amber Neilson, Gema Simon, Joanne Peters, Stacey Day, Katie Gill, Nicole Jones, Emily Van Egmond, Kirstyn Pearce (Cheryl Salisbury 80), Rebecca Smith, Sanna Frostevall
Coach : Gary Phillips
0 - 1 Canberra United
Lydia Williams, Rhian Davies (Grace Gill 83), Amy Chapman, Sasha McDonnell (Cian Maciejewski 58), Caitlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Rebecca Kiting, Hayley Crawford, Kara Mowbray, Thea Slatyer, Ashleigh Sykes (Bronwyn Studman 90)
Goals : Mowbray 25
Coach : Robbie Hooker


report by Jeremy Ruane


A well-taken goal from Kara Mowbray secured Canberra United a 1-0 win at Newcastle Jets' expense on January 10, the outcome of the EnergyAustralia Stadium encounter clinching the capital contenders a place in the inaugural W-League Grand Final in a week's time.


Newcastle will be kicking themselves forever and a day for failing to capitalise on the advantage which playing at home in this semi-final gave them. And they can't say they didn't have their chances in front of 2,889 fans.


But far too many instances of wayward passing, those on the ball finding themselves with too few options to pass to, and players failing to meet the ball when it was played to them - waiting for it to come to them instead - contributed greatly to their downfall.


A lack of direction from coach Gary Phillips didn't aid their cause either. Frankly, he seemed reluctant to change the game, despite the fact his team was trailing throughout the second half and clearly in need of fresh impetus, something he finally cottoned onto ten minutes from time - the introduction of Cheryl Salisbury as a makeshift striker came at least ten minutes too late as far as the home team was concerned.


Prior to then, they had enjoyed by far the better of the attacking exchanges. As early as the fifth minute, they were pounding away, with Gema Simon unleashing a thirty-five yard screamer which Canberra goalkeeper Lydia Williams did well to tip round the post.


Two minutes later, Rebecca Smith - the New Zealand international was, by some distance, Newcastle's best player in this match - picked out Kiwi-born Matildas striker Katie Gill with a well-weighted through ball, but Williams plucked it off her Australian team-mate's head to avert the danger as the home team made the early pace.


Canberra countered straight away, with Williams' clearance picking out Mowbray. Smith thwarted her progress, but Amy Chapman was able to pick up the pieces and lob the ball forward for Caitlin Munoz, who lifted the ball over the hesitant figure of Alison Logue but over the crossbar also.


Ten minutes into the match, Emily Van Egmond intercepted an Ellie Brush free-kick and instantly released Gill through a depleted Canberra rearguard. But the striker was thwarted by the covering challenge of Brush, and failed to fire a shot in anger - add this to the number of times she needlessly strayed offside in the game, and it's fair to say this semi-final will not be one which Gill will remember fondly!


Long-serving Matildas midfielder Joanne Peters executed a timely tackle in the seventeenth minute to break up a Canberra raid, then raced forward for a return pass from Kirstyn Pearce, to whom she had played the ball initially. Peters then played in van Egmond on the left, but instead of shooting, she sought out Gill.


Brush intercepted this, and ignited a Canberra raid which culminated in Munoz firing tamely wide of the target, after midfield duo Sasha McDonnell and Hayley Crawford had provided much of the impetus in the counter-attack.


This pairing were gradually getting the better of the Newcastle trio of Peters, Amber Neilson and Sanna Frostevall, and were again at the heart of another Canberra raid in the 21st minute, which badly exposed Pearce's shortcomings.


The fullback was missing, presumed having a good time, when Chapman found Ashleigh Sykes scooting down the left flank at pace, and but for the despairing lunge of the fast-closing Smith, would have hit the target - the stanchion reverberated instead.


Smith couldn't do everything in defence, however, and when Simon was similarly found wanting when Canberra next asked questions of Newcastle's rearguard, they exploited the wide-open spaces of the home team's left flank to telling effect.


Crawford released Sykes at pace down Canberra's right, and the terrier-like striker scooted to the by-line before an inviting pull-back saw Mowbray arriving right on cue in the heart of the Newcastle penalty, not a retreating gold shirt from Newcastle's midfield ranks in sight to cover the threat posed by her angled run in from the left.


Mowbray calmly controlled the ball before picking her spot beyond the diving figure of Logue to give Canberra the advantage, much to the disappointment of the local faithful who, in light of the forgettable season the club's A-League team is having, came along in their hundreds to support a combination which has given this heartland city in New South Wales a football team worth shouting about.


It was the travelling army of Canberra fans who were singing heartily after this strike, however, and they continued to do so as Newcastle sought a way back into the match. On the half-hour, Peters looked to provide it, holding off two challenges on receipt of a pass from Neilson.


The veteran midfielder stung the gloves of Williams at her near post, then sent a twelve yard bullet header flashing past the opposite upright soon afterwards, after Neilson and promising flank player Nicole Jones had combined, with the latter's measured cross opening up Canberra's back four.


The visitors responded by again exploiting the space Simon was leaving behind her as the fullback sought to support those further forward, casting aside the principle duties of her playing position in the process. Sykes relished these open spaces, but after getting the better of the covering figure of Stacey Day, was unable to pick out an incoming team-mate in green in the 33rd minute.


Six minutes later, Munoz sent a long-range effort sizzling over the crossbar, prior to Sykes again giving Simon the slip before presenting McDonnell with a scoring chance at the near post. Smith careered across to put off the midfielder, who failed to hit the target from six yards.


On the stroke of half-time, Gill created something out of nothing. Picking up the ball on the right flank, there appeared to be no imminent threat to Williams' goal, but the striker had other ideas, and evaded two defenders before scything inside to create a shooting chance. Her teasing cross-shot curled just past the far post - a reminder to Canberra that the home team weren't out of this by any stretch of the imagination.


Their response came inside ninety seconds of the second half's commencement - a rasping twenty-five yard volley from Munoz which rattled the advertising hoardings of a game broadcast live across the nation on ABC TV.


Those watching saw a second half dominated by the Newcastle team, so much so, in fact, that for a good five minutes late in the match, the only player in the home team's half of the pitch was goalkeeper Logue.


Try as they might, however, it just wouldn't happen for the Jets. Five minutes into the half, Peters picked out Gill in space, but with the wily Thea Slatyer standing between her and a certain equaliser. The defender forced the striker back into traffic, denying Gill the shooting opportunity which initially seemed inevitable.


Instead, Peters was presented with the chance, but her effort was blocked, rebounding to Frostevall. The Swedish midfielder brought the best out of Williams, who tipped the shot over the bar.


Smith's recent involvement in Sweden's Damellsvenskan competition, not to mention those highly prized Olympic and World Cup experiences - opportunities which New Zealand's female footballing talent have greatly relished since Australia switched to the Asian confederation - has been a godsend for Newcastle since her mid-season arrival.


The defensive lynchpin has been a pivotal figure in her team's rise up the table - from seventh to second come the conclusion of the premiership phase, and tackles such as the timely one she put in on Munoz in the 53rd minute, and with the Canberra striker poised to shoot, provide ample evidence of her impact in this regard.


It was one of the few moments in the second spell when Canberra genuinely threatened - another came when Smith was caught in possession by the combined efforts of Munoz and Sykes, as she looked to play the ball forward, only to find a lack of movement from those clad in gold shirts. Logue came to the rescue on this occasion, blocking Sykes' shot with her legs twenty minutes from time.


These incidents apart, the second half was pretty much one-way traffic, as Newcastle laid siege to Williams' goal in search of the equaliser. Van Egmond and Frostevall combined near half-way, before Jones played in Gill. Her 56th minute twenty yarder cleared the crossbar by a narrow margin.


Five minutes later, Van Egmond and Peters linked on the left to release the overlapping Simon, whose rasping twenty-yarder was grabbed by Williams. The goalkeeper then missed Neilson's teasing cross, but neither Peters nor van Egmond could capitalise. The resulting corner from Neilson picked out Smith, whose volley was blocked by Slatyer.


Fine work by Peters in the 67th and 69th minutes presented Van Egmond with two chances, the first of which she volleyed over the bar. The second, a prodded effort, beat the advancing figure of Williams all ends up, only to creep narrowly past the far post.


Fifteen minutes from time, Smith pinged the ball forward once more, picking out Peters - and not a peck of pickled peppers in sight as she did so!! The midfielder linked with Gill and Jones to present Frostevall with the chance to level the scores, but she was forced wide by Slatyer and Rhian Davies, and fired wildly past the near post.


Desperate measures were called for - cue Salisbury, a second target to aim for in attack. But without players running off either the newcomer or Gill, the benefits of their flicks and knock-downs were lost by Newcastle, who lacked the composure in attack to match that which Smith's presence afforded their defence.


With her first touch - Van Egmond picked her out, Salisbury found herself in a terrific position to level the scores. All she had to do was bury the ball beyond Williams - instead, the veteran served up the attacking equivalent of a pass-back to the 'keeper!


Seconds later, a quickly taken Salisbury free-kick presented the unmarked Peters with a chance from twenty-five yards. Williams grabbed this greedily, and, together with her defenders, staved off everything else Newcastle threw at the Canberra rearguard in the time which remained.


Come the final whistle, there was rejoicing aplenty among those clad in green, and rightly so, even though they weren't the better team on the day. Canberra had scored the only goal of the semi-final, however, and that was what ultimately mattered.


The victors will travel to Queensland Roar for Saturday's final, a result of the runaway premiership champions requiring a penalty shoot-out to get past Sydney FC, after the teams drew 1-1 at Ballymore Oval.

Semi-Final 1 (1st v 4th)
Played (11/01/09) Ballymore
Referee : Jacqui Melksham, Crowd : 1891
Queensland Roar
Casey Dumont, Kate McShea, Karla Reuter, Clare Polkinghorne, Brooke Spence (Stephanie Latham 106), Elise Kellond-Knight, Alicia Ferguson (Ellen Beaumont 47), Lana Harch, Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Courtney Beutel
Goal : Butt 29
Penalties : Dumont, Butt, Kellond-Knight, Harch, Beaumont (miss), Reuter
Coach : Jeff Hopkins
- 1
Sydney FC
Nikola Dieter, Danielle Brogan, Alesha Clifford, Lisa Gilbert, Servet Uzunlar (Linda O'Neill 70), Joanne Burgess (Nicola Bolger 65), Kylie Ledbrook, Jessica Seaman, Danielle Small (sent off 78), Leena Khamis, Kelly Golebiowski (Sarah Walsh 55)
Goal : O'Neill 71
Penalties : Brogan, Bolger (saved), Clifford, Ledbrook, Khamis, Walsh (saved)
Coach : Alen Stajcic


report by Andrew Demack


There was goals, excitement, good football galore and plain good value on offer at Ballymore today as Queensland Roar battled past Sydney FC to make the grand final of the inaugural Westfield W-League.


A vocal crowd of nearly 2000 were jam-packed into one grandstand at the one-time home of Queensland rugby union. They saw Queensland Roar dominate the match in the same way they have dominated the W-League competition, but still finish tied 1-1 with their opponents after 120 minutes of football. It wasn't until after 12 penalties were taken that a winner could be named.


Queensland started the game brightly, and were on top in early exchanges. The experience of Alicia Ferguson in the centre of midfield was crucial, and her distribution with passes short and long, and her calm presence gave Queensland an edge.


Sydney were lined up in a fairly defensive 4-5-1, with pacey Leena Khamis the sole striker. However, Roar skipper Kate McShea and fellow stopper Karla Reuter were able to double-team Khamis, and she could find no support early on. Jo Burgess and Danielle Small for Sydney were trying to link up with Khamis, but the visitors couldn't get enough of the ball to look threatening.


At the other end, Courtney Beutel, Lana Harch and Tameka Butt were causing Sydney's defence some real headaches. Occasionally they didn't quite manage to commit enough players forward early enough on the break, and Beutel particularly was looking for some more support from the midfield runners.


In the 18th minute, Elise Kellond-Knight got to the byline and put in a cross to the far post, just sailing over the head of Beutel. Queensland got the reward for their early dominance in the 29th minute. Tameka Butt surged forward from the right flank with the ball at her feet and was felled by a Sydney defender, about 25 metres out from goal. Kellond-Knight drove the free-kick into the box and it was half cleared, out to Butt again. This time she slipped a pass into Harch in the box, and moved smartly into space for the return, and then drove the ball across Dieter into the Sydney goal. 1-0 to the Roar.


Getting the lead seemed to spur on the home team, and two minutes later Dieter pulled off a great save when Alicia Ferguson won a header from a corner.


Sydney were occasionally dangerous on the break, bu the best Burgess could do was win a corner, which inevitably came to nothing. In goal for the Roar, Casey Dumont, only 16 years old, looked in total command. She caught every ball that came within range for the whole game, and always had command of the six-yard box and beyond.


Queensland led at the break. However, in the first minute after the game resumed Alicia Ferguson took a knock which saw her stretchered from the field. Queensland re-shaped its midfield, with the replacement Ellen Beaumont going out onto the left, and Kellond-Knight coming into the middle, but the quality of distribution through the middle of the park suffered without Ferguson.


With an hour gone and no sight of an equaliser, Sydney coach Alen Stajcic began to call the changes. Sara Walsh came on, to parner Khamis upfront, sacrificing a midfielder.


Immediately Sydney began to give the Queensland defence more to think about, with the highly mobile Walsh causing plenty of concern. In the 65th and 70th minutes, Stajcic went for yet more fresh troops, bringing on first Nicola Bolger, and then Linda O'Neill.


It was O'Neill who made the difference, scoring the equaliser with virtually her first touch of the ball. Queensland failed to clear a dangerous ball in the box, and O'Neill pounced, sending her shot straight into the top corner.


The crowd were stunned. Queensland had made all the running, had made all the chances, and yet somehow Sydney were level.


The Roar midfield and strikers were looking tired, and it seemed that surely Jeff Hopkins would make some changes. The Roar coach resisted however, trusting his starting team to do the job. Tameka Butt and Courtney Beutel still seemed the most likely to create something, and Beaumont was having an increasingly influence down the left hand side of the pitch.


In the 75th minute, Beaumont worked her way into the box, and attempted a cross to the far post. The ball ricocheted off a Sydney defender with arms raised, and the ref pointed to the penalty spot.


Roar skipper Kate McShea grabbed the ball and handed it to midfielder Lauren Colthorpe. Nikola Dieter jigged around in the Sydney goal, dived sharply to her left, and saved the penalty clean as you like. The scored remained 1-1.


In the aftermath to the unsuccessful penalty, referee Jacqui Melksham showed Sydney midfielder Danielle Small a straight red card, perhaps for dissent, as there was no play happening at the time.


With Sydney down to 10 players, Walsh ploughed a lone furrow upfront, with Khamis moved back to bolster the midfield. The tall slender figure of Alesha Clifford marshalled the Sydney defence. Queensland were giving Sydney a torrid time, but somehow the goal would not come.


With less than five minutes remaining suddenly the chances started to come. Lana Harch had a golden opportunity with the ball turned back to her by Beutel, but her shot was weak and Dieter parried it away. Seconds later it was Tameka Butt, but she also spurned the chance. The last chance of regular time fell to Colthrope, but she blasted over.


The first period of extra time was like the last 10 minutes of regular time. Queensland were patient in build-up, but the best results seemed to come from a more direct method of attack. In the 6th minute of extra time, an audacious long-range effort from Brooke Spence beat Dieter, but crashed into the crossbar. Unbelievably, the scored were still tied.


There were still more chances to Beaumont, Harch and Butt, but Queensland couldn't find the winner. Down the other end, Casey Dumont looked like an absolute rock, and with McShea and Reuter in front of her, Sydney rarely got a sniff of goal.


After 120 minutes, the women had played themselves to a standstill. The second period of extra time was full of players from both sides going down with cramp, but struggling to play on regardless.


And so it went to the penalty shoot-out. Danielle Brogan stepped up for Sydney, and sent Dumont the wrong way to get Sydney on the board.


Casey Dumont then grabbed the ball and marched straight up to the spot herself to take the first penalty for Queensland. She swept it into the top corner. All square.


Bolger was next for Sydney. Her penalty was touched onto the post by Dumont and stayed out. Then it was Butt and Kellond-Knight for Queensland, and Clifford and Ledbrook for Sydney, all scoring.


Leena Khamis stepped up, needing to score to keep Sydney in the game. She slotted it home.


So it was Ellen Beaumont's chance to clinch the victory. She ran in, and blasted the ball well over the bar. After five penalties each, the game was still level.


Sarah Walsh was next for Sydney, and Dumont got down low to save to her left.


Now it was the experienced Karla Reuter with a second chance for Queensland to finish it. And this time they did, with Reuter powering the penalty down the middle.


This game was among the most dramatic you could witness anywhere. It was excellent entertainment, and at $5 for an adult ticket, you can be sure that Ballymore will have twice as many patrons next Saturday for the grand final against Canberra.






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