Photo: Cindy Nitsos
South Melbourne delivered reigning NPLW Premiers Calder United their first loss of the season with an action-packed 4-2 at Keilor Park Recreation Reserve.
Melina Ayres was amongst the goals once again, netting a double for the second consecutive week, while Britt Thomas and Caitlin Greiser also got amongst the goals in the marquee fixture.
Calder should’ve taken the lead in the 20th minute after some quick feet from Cindy Lay saw her break past South ‘keeper Cassandra Zaffina, but the attacker somehow managed to hit the post with the goal at her mercy.
Tiffany Eliadis tried her best to break the deadlock at the other end with a neat half volley, which required Shanel Camilleri to intervene with a good stop at her near post.
The former FFV Gold Medalist had soon won a penalty for her side as she was felled just inside the area by three converging Calder defenders.
Taking the spot kick herself, Eliadis stuttered in her approach before blasting her shot over the crossbar.
The game eventually saw it’s first goal in the 28th minute through Rachel Alonso, who intelligently read the deflection off a Emma Meckfessel drive from distance to tuck home from close range.
Just a minute later and Ayres had the ball in the back of the net for South, although the effort was correctly ruled out for offside.
Ayres had to wait until six minutes into the second half to legally find the back of the net and level proceedings as she instinctively pounced on a parried save from Camilleri from Greiser’s initial effort.
Enza Barilla put Calder back into the lead on the hour mark, with the game seeing yet another opportunistic strike.
An initial long-ranged effort from Alonso was brilliantly saved by half-time substitute Molly-May Ramsey but talisman Barilla was on hand to steer home the rebound from the tightest of angles.
Parity was restored just minutes later as South broke with precision from a counter attack, which started with a booming long ball from Michelle Verzi on the edge of her defensive box.
Eliadis broke clear down the right flank – evading the best efforts of Gulcan Koca in the process – to square a ball in for Greiser to tap home her first goal in the NPLW.
The topsy-turvy affair almost saw Calder head themselves back into the lead through Rachel Binning, but an outstanding reflex stop from Ramsey denied her from point-blank range having connected from a corner.
Chasing the win, South turned to their bench and released Britt Thomas into the fray; the former Alamein FC attacker proving the catalyst for victory by notching up a goal and assist in to seal the result.
Her pin-point cross to the far post in the 81st found Ayres, who hit a precision header into the bottom left corner to give South the lead for the first time in the contest.
Thomas sealed the result just minutes later with a well-disguised finish from 10 yards, delivering Calder United their first competitive loss since July last year.
Cortnee Vine proved the catalyst for Heidelberg United as a first half double from the Young Matildas forward helped the Warriors towards a 3-0 win over Bayside United.
The visitors started the brighter of the two teams at Olympic Village, with Bayside carving out a number of chances in the first half.
They were unable to breach the home net however, with the Bergers largely having goalkeeper Katie Neville to thank for retaining a clean sheet and resisting the pressure with the game at a stalemate.
With half-time fast approaching, a quick-fire brace from Vine – including an early contender for goal of the season – helped lift the spirits of the home crowd.
The Brisbane Roar forward was played through from midfield in the 43rd minute and was able to round the onrushing Ingrid Phillipe to place the ball into an open net.
She then showcased her elite pace with the ball at feet, dribbling from well inside her own half and applying the burners to leave three Bayside defenders in her wake before applying a low finish under Phillipe who despite getting a touch, was unable to keep the shot from trickling in.
The second half saw Elise Mananu-Gray come on for Vine, with the substitute also finding the back of the net after applying a close-range finish to Steph Galea’s cross from the right wing.
For Heidelberg, it marked a first win of the season and helped set a new benchmark for the club heading into the thick of the league campaign, while it leaves Bayside still searching for their first victory of 2017 despite a number of promising performances.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Heidelberg head coach Melissa Barbieri told HUFC TV.
“We were unlucky not to score last week, so to see us score three and not concede any is testament to the girls and how hard they’ve worked in the last three weeks to play the way I want to play.
“They capitalised on the hard work, which has been there, but we’re now just finishing it off.”
Galaxy United continue to stake a claim as competition frontrunners after dismantling a disappointing Alamein FC 4-0.
Best on ground Jess Tay opened the scoring for the hosts at Banyul Warri Reserve and it was soon 2-0 via a fortuitous goal that came from a corner kick taken by Adriana Taranto.
Despite suspicions of offside, Caitlin Pickett was able to put her side three goals to the good by half-time with Alamein seemingly shell-shocked by the tenacity at which Galaxy played their football.
Lively winger Kariah White nearly made it four in the early stages of the second half, but her shot hit the post.
Instead it was Leigh Gray who completed the scoring with her third goal in consecutive games to start the season for Galaxy.
There was a hint of controversy surrounding that goal, with the Alamein camp adamant that there was an offside in the build up to their fourth.
It marked a first ever win for Galaxy over Alamein in a regular season game, with their only prior victory coming in a penalty shootout win in last year’s NPLW Semi-Final.
Southern United continued their undefeated start to 2017 with a hard-fought 2-0 win over Box Hill United at Lawton Park Reserve.
While the game wasn’t one for the memory bank, Southern did enough to justify their victory and put in a convincing defensive display.
Former Moama-Echuca Border Raiders product Indre Christy put Southern into a first half lead, with American Courtney Hueston setting up the opening goal with a headed flick on.
Their lead was doubled just seven minutes into the second half through Hueston herself, who swung a corner kick directly into the back of the net.