First Grade – news
APIA Leichardt Tigers have been crowned 2011 Women’s Super League Champions with a 2-0 win over Gladesville Ravens at Bensons Lane.
Two second half goals from super striker Aysha Adalis erased the memories of last year’s Grand Final loss and secured an impressive Premiership-Championship double. Gladesville will be bitterly disappointed to fall at the final hurdle after beating the Tigers twice already this season.
Elated APIA coach Tarek Madani was glad his side were able to cope with the pressure.
“With all the excitement of winning the premiership, it was just a relief to get the job done today,” he said.
“We won the two games that matter - now it’s time for round three, the decider!”
“I think we just wanted it more and we took our chances - we were very good today.”
Paul Wade was effusive in his praise for the Ravens’ opponents, conceding that the better team may have won out on the day.
“I can’t be too unhappy - they scored a bagful of goals more than anybody else, they play very positive football, they never gave up even when we were playing well and they deserved their victory,” he said.
“At times I thought we were indecisive - we got hold of the ball but didn’t know what to do with it.”
“We played some wonderful football and I’ll always be proud of them for that. It just goes to show how close these two football teams are.”
The familiarity of the two sides contributed to a cagey start to the match. Gladesville were playing their natural game with relative ease and genuine chances were at a premium.
Alyssa Hardie scuffed a shot a goal wide in just the 2nd minute, while Amanda Bowering and Fatmah Agar had chances from range. Aysha Adalis, playing higher up the pitch than in previous weeks, fired a free kick over the bar in the 17th minute.
Both sides were getting shots away regularly but had trouble getting into dangerous positions. Most of the goalmouth action came from outside the area as the two teams generally cancelled each other out.
Rebecca Colechin made herself useful in the 26th minute, coming off her line to smother a goalmouth scramble.
A few minutes later at the other end of the pitch APIA keeper Karinda Moodley and Ravens winger Alyssa Hardie were involved in a nasty collision as both players raced towards a loose ball. Thankfully Hardie returned to the pitch after some emergency treatment on the sideline.
Adalis came close to breaking the deadlock in the 36th minute when she waltzed though a crowded Ravens penalty area and send a shot cannoning off the upright. The rebound fell at her feet, but she blazed over the crossbar from all of five meters.
Five minutes later Gladesville saw their own gilt-edged chance go begging when Agar missed from two meters out following some great work by Ally Crosbie on the right wing.
The second half brought with it an increased tempo and a handful of good goalscoring opportunities.
The deadlock was broken in the 54th minute when a mistimed clearance from Colechin fell at the feet of Adalis, who spectacularly flicked the ball up to herself and volleyed into an empty net from all of 30 yards. Wild celebrations showed just what it meant to a determined APIA side.
As the half wore on, APIA began to absorb some pressure, remaining compact in defence and pushing Gladesville into wide areas. Gladesville lacked penetration and had seemingly lost the key to unlocking the APIA backline.
In the 70th minute Colechin was at it again, this time with a smothering one on one save to keep her team in the game. Five minutes later Adalis chipped the ball over an advancing keeper but saw it bounce agonizingly wide.
With less that five minutes remaining, APIA made sure of the result when player of the match Adalis once again turned her defender and fired home the killer blow. Gladesville’s late surge came too little too late and APIA were crowned 2011 Women’s Super League Champions.
The result will be extra sweet for the Tigers who came out on the losing end of last year’s Grand Final. In four meetings between the two sides this year the score stands APIA 2, Gladesville 2, but the Tigers will know they won the one that mattered.
capture: grand final moments courtesy of football nsw