Box Hill claims Lions scalp
Box Hill United has put itself well back into playoff contention with a 3-2 win over FC Bulleen Lions.
By Teo Pellizzeri @teopellizzeri
Box Hill United survived a nervous finish to capture a vital 3-2 win against FC Bulleen Lions and reclaim a top five spot for at least a day in the Sportsmart Women’s Premier League on Friday night.
Madelaine Richardson’s long-range free kick would prove the match winner as Bulleen’s late surge fell short of snaring a draw at Wembley Park.
Box Hill (28 points) moved into fifth at Heidelberg United’s expense (sixth, 25) with Heidelberg to play last-placed Ashburton on Sunday.
Bulleen Lions (second, 33) lost further ground on ladder leader South Melbourne as Bundoora United (third, 32) drew to within a point with its 3-2 win against Monbulk.
The visitors opened the scoring in the ninth minute when Cindy Lay swept onto a loose ball at the top of the penalty area and fired a right-footed shot across Melissa Barbieri and into the bottom corner.
Box Hill nearly drew level three minutes later when Letizia Sammut’s long shot hit the underside of the bar and stayed out.
Bulleen threatened a second with Em Coppock manufacturing regular chances.
But it was against the run of play that Box Hill would find its first goal when Sammut’s cross from the right in the 30th minute was handled in the area by Emily Dolzan.
Georgie Koutrouvelis stepped up to take the spot kick and picked out the top-right corner.
Sammut then shocked Bulleen moments later with the go-ahead goal.
Bulleen goalkeeper Frances Land shanked a clearance to Sammut, who knocked the ball into a 50-50 contest where Ruby Foottit dinked the ball back into Sammut’s path.
The Box Hill midfielder then loaded up a long-range attempt and produced a perfect lob to leave Land stranded off her line and put Box Hill up 2-1.
Richardson then made the score 3-1 when her ambitious free kick from a centre-left position in the 50th minute went high off the boot but dipped in time to find the top right corner.
Bulleen nearly pegged a goal back in the 63rd minute when Coppock’s measured through ball set up Eleni Fakos one-on-one against Barbieri.
Fakos rounded Barbieri through the left side of the area but her shot was scrambled clear by a backtracking Jessica Byrne.
Barbieri would deny Lay with a diving save to the left in the 72nd minute, but could do little to stop the ball in the 75th when Lay’s weaving run through the left side of the area ended with a shot that was deflected in from close range by Coppock.
Coppock then skimmed the bar with a header in the 79th minute when Fede Frew’s corner from the right picked out the Bulleen striker.
Bulleen had a penalty claim paid as a free kick outside the area in the 80th minute when Richardson knocked over Cindy Lay, but nothing came of it.
Frew would have the last clear-cut chance but her long-range free kick was claimed comfortably on the bounce by Barbieri in the 88th minute.
“It was a difficult game, we knew they were going to fight hard until the end,” Sammut said.
“We had our hearts in it tonight. We’ve lost points at times when we should have been able to keep them and tonight we needed this result to stay in the top five.”
Sammut only took two long range shots for the night, hitting the bar with one and scoring with the second.
“I could see (Land) off her line, and I’d just missed the first attempt. The second time I tried for accuracy,” she said.
Bulleen midfielder Cindy Lay played a more attacking role in the absence of injured Jessica Tay and Lia Privitelli and the overseas Daniela Gudelj.
“I think we struggled to play as a team,” Lay said.
“The conditions made it hard to play our style of football. We tried passing it out from the back and playing it short but the ball just stopped.
“It was a physical game and we weren’t strong enough in the end.
“We shouldn’t have conceded those goals…as far as confidence goes, our heads did drop.
“We’ve got to finish our chances…I don’t think Box Hill created that many chances but when they did they put their shots away.”
Bulleen coach Bobby McGuinness said after the match Privitelli (toe) and Tay (lower leg) were a month away from returning while Gudelj would be back from overseas in two weeks.
Box Hill United 3 (Koutrouvelis pen 28" Sammut 30" Richardson 50") defeated FC BulleenLions 2 (Lay 8" Coppock 74") at Wembley Park. [HT: 2-1]
Box Hill United: 11 BARBIERI Melissa, 2 McCLUSKEY Krystal, 4 RICHARDSON Madelaine, 6 MEEREBOER Anouk, 8 CARDACI Cristina (90+4” 33 EFE Ebru), 12 HECKENBERG Emma (81” 21 ZOHAN Sivan) 13 FOOTTIT Ruby 14 KOUTROUVELIS Georgie (70” 5 WALSH Sarah), 15 SAMMUT Letizia, 16 EVANS Siankye, 26 BYRNE Jessica (63” 10 GIANNOPOULOS Mandi)
Unused subs: 1 BREWER Stephanie
Yellow cards: Evans 81”
Bulleen Lions: 1 LAND Frances, 2 SERNIO Tessa, 8 LAY Cindy, 10 COPPOCK Emily, 12 IACONIS Liana (64” 19 TAWFIC Salma), 15 EDWARDS Olivia, (45” 18 LOCHART Keely) 16 SCOTT Bella, 17 ELLIS Olivia, 20 NATOLI Alex, 22 DOLZAN Emily (73” 7 FREW Federica), 23 FAKOS Eleni
Unused subs: 3 RICHARDSON Holly, 11 MURE Tayla