THE NAMBUCCA Strikers will play Boambee 2 in Saturday’s grand final of the North Coast Football Women’s 2nd division after a thrilling 4-2 victory over Orara Valley at the weekend.
After a short delay due to passing storm, the game kicked off. Nambucca were on the front foot and striker Anna Champion forced the Orara keeper into a point blank save early on.
Kyiesha Cohen was making ground down the left flank and linked well with Champion in the opening stages. Champion again was presented with an opportunity to give her side an early lead, but a bobble at the crucial moment resulted in an attempt that sailed over the cross bar.
The rock-solid defence of the Strikers, led by Cheree Chapman, limited their opponents to long-range efforts which were comfortably dealt with by goal keeper, Carly Smith.
The Strikers’ midfield trio of Sam Walsh, Brea Welsh and Amie Goswell combined well both in defence and attack, while Zara Pastega’s pace was used to good effect down the right flank. Simone Jordan replaced Welsh and was menacing in midfield.
Luwarna Cohen and Jess White were also putting in stellar shifts in their respective fullback roles.
At half time the weather had held out, as too both sets of defence with the score at the break nil-all.
The second half saw Charlotte Williams introduced to the front line and the Strikers began to assert some dominance in Valley’s half. Champion was played in behind Orara’s defensive line and was felled in the box … penalty! She picked herself up off the sodden deck and converted the pressure kick confidently to put her side in the lead.
Moments later, as the hosts pressured the box again, a goal-mouth clearance could only find its way to Goswell, who’s first time return shot looped perfectly over the out-of-position Valley keeper. The Strikers were now two-up and full of momentum, but that is when the game turned again.
A momentary lapse at the back let Orara back into the match with a goal as keeper Smith was left unprotected. Minutes later they had equalised. A shot on goal eluded Smith but only managed to hit the upright, the resulting deflection eventually fell the way of a Valley player who poked the ball home.
With the game now in the balance and with only 10 minutes remaining in normal time, the momentum had shifted once more. Nambucca lifted themselves from this setback, however, and returned fire.
Pastega delivered a quality cross on the run that found its way to Kyiesha Cohen who headed in from close range to, once more, put Nambucca in the lead.
Melissa Urquhart returned to the back line to steady the ship as Orara looked to level once more. Smith in goals pulled off a save at point blank range to thwart the Orara comeback.
With minutes remaining Champion, again, was upended in the box and awarded her second penalty for the match, which she converted successfully to increase the Strikers’ lead.
Keily Chase entered the fray, at the expense of Champion, with a calming effect. The Strikers held on, winning a most entertaining match 4-2.
On Saturday they will take on Boambee 2 in the grand final at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, with kick-off at noon. The last time these sides met it went to extra time.
All supporters are encouraged to come along and get behind the girls in their quest for more silverware.
The Macksville Stingers Women’s side will also be in grand final action against Bellingen in the 3rd Division match earlier in the day.
Good luck to both teams.