THE NAMBUCCA Strikers women’s team hosted Boambee Eagles 2 at the weekend in an emotional day of football that was to honour the memory of club life member, Jo Deans.
The girls were back to full capacity and having put in a solid week of training, were keen to get back in the winners’ circle. The opening exchanges were frenetic with Boambee taking an early shot on goal. This snapped the Strikers into action and they began to warm to the contest.
The midfield was a battlefield. Emily Lane and Amie Goswell had their work cut out for them early, as did the defensive line. Strikers Anna Champion and Zara Pastega, were kept quiet in attack and were called on to assist in defence.
The pace of the match forced some key changes midway through the first half. The two strikers were replaced with Charlotte Williams as a lone striker and Simone Jordan in to bolster the midfield. Sam Walsh was replaced by Keily Chase out wide, having worked herself to the ground.
The changes began to make a notable difference and the Strikers wrestled the possession away from their opponents. Williams was threatening up front, her hunger apparent and her speed menacing … and then the break through. Chase, fuelled by adrenaline from an emotional week, was inspired. Her pressure forced Boambee into a mistake and her through ball to Williams was inch perfect.
Williams won the race and poked home the opener much to the jubilation of the home supporters.
The second half was similar. Both teams gave their all in an often physical encounter. Boambee enjoyed a period of sustained pressure and tested the Strikers’ keeper, Carly Smith. Smith was superb between the sticks, pulling off a host of finger-tip saves as well as putting her body on the line at point-blank range.
Pastega and Walsh came back into the game to make an impact with 20 to go. Walsh’s determined runs out wide changed the momentum of the match again and she was to earn her side a penalty after being brought down in the box. But the spot kick was narrowly unsuccessful, and the game remained in the balance.
Luwarna Cohen, an old head on young shoulders, was calm and collected at the back offering a valuable link up the left to older sister, Kyiesha. The latter’s speed creating space up the flank and bringing Williams in the mix for a second goal. But it wasn’t to come despite some wonderful attacking plays.
Defenders, Cheree Chapman and Melissa Urquhart were playing season best performances and were required to maintain focus as the match drew to a close. With seconds remaining, the visitors nearly broke Strikers hearts when they somehow found their way through the defence. The solid crowd could barely watch as the Eagles striker bore down on Smith one-on-one. Smith was having none of it and once more put her personal safety second as she dove in at the forward’s feet to gather the ball, much to the relief of fans and players alike.
A nail biting but extremely entertaining match ending in a victory for the Strikers. This Saturday they take on Sawtell at Toormina at 1pm.