Alamein began with a 4-3-3 formation and created numerous chances, but struggled with their shooting. Bayside sat deep and posed a threat on the counterattack, with goalkeeper Lauren Farrugia having an excellent game. Let’s look at the key events.
Bayside block, Alamein go direct
A feature of Bayside’s attack is left back Lucy Richards frequently overlapping when left winger Emily Harbis moves inside, as seen in their Round 3 match against Heidelberg United. Here, Richards and Harbis were far more conservative.
Instead, Bayside concentrated on counterattacking from a defensive block, using the pace of Cristina Cardaci up front and Savanna Anastasopoulos on the right. This threat was evident early on. In the 9th minute, Bayside won the ball on halfway, and with an early pass sent Cardaci on a counterattack.
Bayside’s defensive shape was a reasonably-compact 4-2-3-1 mid-block, as shown below. While the block was generally focused on covering zones, certain Bayside players tracked certain Alamein players. Cardaci dropped deep to block easy passes into Alamein’s deep midfielder Liana Iaconis; Kirstie Shearing and Felicity Georgopoulos tracked Alamein’s attacking midfielders Mari Pastor and Lucy Johnson respectively. This discouraged Alamein from attempting to play through midfield, and to play longer passes instead.
Being forced to go long actually suited Alamein. As previously noted in their game against FC Bulleen Lions in Round 7, Alamein prefer to attack via early balls in behind for their wingers Kat Goff and Janna Lawson to chase, with attacking support coming from Mari Pastor making late runs from midfield. Here, we can see a similar pattern, with Alamein centreback Taylor Schneider (circled) looking to release Lawson with a long pass. We can also see below that Pastor has started her run, drawing Shearing into the defensive line to cover.
In the first half, Alamein created several chances through this route, but couldn’t convert. Notably, Goff somehow missed a tap into an open goal from four yards out, and Alonso’s neat finish was ruled out for offside in the 12th minute.
Second half excitement
With both teams looking to play early, this meant that the midfield zone becoming a battlefield for second balls and 50-50 challenges as both teams’ midfielders looked to support the long pass forward. In particular, Iaconis had her hands full tracking Bayside’s main creator Margot Robinne, who would frequently sprint forward to support in the attacking third.
This was how Bayside scored. With Alamein left back Akeisha Sandhu out of position, this allowed Robinne to break into the space behind and cross for Nikolina Bucalo to finish from six yards.
Alamein reacted quickly, sending on midfielder Caitlin Roberts for Schneider and shifting to 3-4-3. This change allowed substitute Jacynta Galabadaarachchi to move into a free role behind the strikers, whereas she was previously confined to the left wing having earlier replaced Goff.
Galabadaarachchi’s 1v1 ability caused huge problems for the whole Bayside defence, and resulted in a series of Alamein corners. Again however, a combination of poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping kept the score at 0-1 to Bayside.
A downside of shifting to three at the back was that this left large spaces outside of Sardo and Sandhu for Bayside to counterattack into, although Sardo in particular was excellent at providing defensive cover while still contributing in attack. Fittingly, it was her run that won the free kick from which Alamein equalised.
If you missed the game, you can catch the replay on the NPL Victoria YouTube channel.
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