Photo: Mark Avellino
South Melbourne picked up their first win of the NPLW era with a Melina Ayres double helping secure a 2-0 result at Olympic Village.
Despite the loss, the Bergers looked a more cohesive unit than in their 3-0 loss to Galaxy United the week prior and enjoyed relative parity of possession.
However, it took just 13 minutes for Ayres to slide a right footed effort past Katie Neville in goals to open the scoring for the visitors, although the goal did come with some controversy.
In the build-up to the strike, the ball appeared to flick the arm of Ayres towards Tiffany Eliadis, who then knocked the ball down into the path of the former Alamein FC forward to place home.
Chasing a swift response, Heidelberg’s pre-season signing Sarah Sumner nearly caught out South keeper Cassandra Zaffina who stood firm to deny the midfielder’s audacious effort from 25-yards.
South thought they had doubled their lead on 23 minutes after young striker Caitlin Greiser poked home an Eliadis rebound from a solid low save from Neville, only to be rightly denied by the offside flag.
Her teammate in the front third Cortnee Vine then almost created a goal out of nothing with her pressure forcing skipper Alex Cheal into a back pass to her keeper, who then in turn saw her clearance charged down by the Brisbane Roar forward.
She then squared the ball back to first half substitute Mikayla Lazic, only for the resulting shot to be blocked by former Bergers captain Michelle Verzi.
The second half was a more tame affair with both sides settling into the tie, although there were moments where each side threatened to free the shackles.
Steph Galea looked the most interested Heidelberg attacker, enjoying a number of telling forays forward, while Neville was proving to be a tough obstacle to pass for the South attackers; namely Eliadis who saw a shot saved from the edge of the area.
She was unable to keep out Ayres in stoppage time, who dinked the ball home for her brace after connecting onto a delightful through ball from Julia Nicolaci on her return to the Village.
With a hat-trick beckoning, Ayres saw a bullet header at the death spectacularly palmed away by Neville for the last action of the match.
Galaxy United continued their perfect start to the NPLW season with a big 4-1 win over Bayside United in their first home game of 2017.
Despite the scoreline, it was a fairly close game between two sides that were evenly-matched for the majority of the contest.
Bayside defender Katie Lee helped the visitors to a 1-0 half-time lead, dispatching a cross in the 29th minute.
Galaxy were able to restore parity just seven minutes into the second half of the contest through captain Laura Spiranovic, who put away a well-taken header.
From there, Galaxy were able to run out with the result, notching up three unanswered goals in the final 15 minutes.
Star recruit Leigh Gray was able to put the hosts into a 75th minute lead, with substitute Jess Kenyon playing a large role in the goal, playing through her American teammate to finish well past Ingrid Phillipe.
Another substitute didn’t take long to make her mark with Lulu Al-Huneidi dispatching from a Kariah White cutback on 84 minutes.
White then rounded off the result by getting on the scoresheet herself deep into injury time, with a cheeky finish through the legs of the goalkeeper.
It sees Galaxy join Calder United as the only two teams to have not dropped a point so far this campaign.
Having claimed a big win over South Melbourne the week prior, Box Hill United travelled to Keilor Park to take on reigning NPLW Champions Calder United backed with plenty of confidence.
The hosts were up for the fight however and managed to complete a come-from-behind 2-1 victory, traversing a strong second half performance from Pythagoras.
Emma Meckfessel had the opportunity to open proceedings from the penalty spot after Marie Rampal was brought down inside the area, but her penalty down the middle of the goal was well read by teenager Allysa Dall’oste.
Box Hill then struck on the counter through Melanie Camilleri, who made it two goals in as many weeks to start the season with a speculative effort on eight minutes, chipping the ball over keeper Shanel Camilleri from 30 yards.
New signing Emma Robers restored parity for the hosts soon after with a stunning left-footed drive, which flew across the face of goal into the back of the net.
The reigning champs were able to force their way into the lead for the first time through an unlikely source in defender Rachel Binning, who was able to steer home from a Dani Gudelj corner in the 30th minute.
Box Hill enjoyed a number of solid chances in the second term, but ultimately were unable to breach Calder’s goal despite their dominance.
“Very disappointed in the result because I thought we were good enough to win it, not just get a point,” said Box Hill coach Bobby McGuinness.
“We missed so many chances in the second half. In fairness, I thought we were quite poor in the first half and we gave them way too much respect. I thought the girls were outstanding in the second half and did enough to win it.
“The girls can be hugely proud of themselves, I’m proud of them but I just wish the result had been different.”
While there was positives for both sides in regards to the result and performance, the game was soured by an ACL injury to Box Hill youngster Maia Heyson, with everyone at TCF wishing her a speedy recovery.
Southern United have continued their bright start to the 2017 season, completing a 3-0 rout of the Senior NTC at the State Football Centre.
They took a 2-0 lead into half-time, with skipper Candela Ferreyra Bas burying the opening goal into the bottom left corner from outside the box following a squaring ball from Elisabeth Robers.
Rebecca Saber doubled their advantage on 37 minutes, netting for the second week running with a fine finish from close range.
Jess Bedows put the game beyond doubt in the second half with her side’s third coming from a Monica Fonua assist.
Southern largely had debutant American Mikhaila Bowden to thank for a clean sheet, with the international putting in a convincing performance at the heart of defence.