Stage set for Pelada Cup final
Bundoora United 2-0 Altona City; Box Hill United 3-0 Heidelberg United
Box Hill United and Bundoora United are through to the inaugural Pelada Cup final with convincing wins on Sunday.
Both semi-finals were held at Ralph Reserve in Sunshine West, with the double header format providing a full day of football action.
The day saw one 2012 unbeaten streak finally broken with Altona City losing to Bundoora 2-0 while Box Hill continued their unbeaten run this year with a 3-0 victory over Heidelberg United.
As Bundoora and Altona trooped out into the bright warm sunshine, the Bundoora travelling support started a ragged beat on their single patched up drum.
Altona was as close to full strength as they could be, bar the migraine-stricken victim Amelia Spiranovic in defence.
Bundoora were missing the services of captain extraordinaire Enza Barilla and Turkish international Gulcan Koca, but had pressed into service several reserve players for the occasion.
Michelle Zilic, Busra Mankir and Kelly Bougas would have been as proud as punch to line up with the seniors on this day, but were perhaps a little overshadowed by the unusual sight of two goalkeepers sitting on their bench.
Zilic was not one to dally around, her first shot on target coming but a minute into the game, as Altona goalkeeper Christina Fonua proved equal to the task.
While Altona have encountered and defeated WPL teams in previous rounds, Bundoora were always going to be a very different proposition.
Aliesha Newman was fighting for all she was worth up the flank against a swarming sea of canary yellow jerseys, but for every yard she won she was pushed back two.
Bundoora’s Sarah Richardson was trying her luck from range, though not seriously troubling the Altona custodian.
Then suddenly Bundoora were a goal up as we saw how valuable an asset full-back Tyla Jay Vlajnic is to her team, scoring a goal directly from a corner.
Six minutes later Bundoora doubled their advantage with a goal from Michelle Zilic following what can only be called a defensive calamity by Lauren Shurrocks, performing a one-two with the onrushing Zilic after losing her bearings at a fatal moment.
The Bundoora striker somehow kept her amazement in check to slot into an open goal for their second of the day.
Job done and with their minds already on the next important league game, the WPL side seemed to shift down into second gear for the remainder of the match, with a half-hearted Bundoora still a step above the hard working Altona outfit.
With Sarah Lovett, so impressive against Preston, anonymous for much of the game, Altona hardly posed a threat in the second half.
Goalkeeper Fonua and midfielder Kerri Little were the only ones looking fired up, the former making an excellent reflex save with her foot to deny the luckless Richardson while the latter blasted a ball high over and then earned a yellow card for dissent.
The Bundoora support was quickly growing restless with the lack of drive, and started serenading central defender Tayla Evans as the game drew to a close.
A match that had started so brightly along with the weather had petered out in the second half, the scores remaining 2-0.
An attacking feast was anticipated at 2.30pm, as Heidelberg and the irrepressible likes of Caitlin Friend and Stacey Papadopoulos took on Box Hill and their free-scoring forwards Louisa Bisby and Amanda Lawless.
This didn’t eventuate as the likes of Heidelberg’s Demi Mihaloudis and Kate Fotopoulos missed out through illness and injury respectively, and coach John Lioupas’ decision to play defender Michelle Verzi in central midfield.
A Heidelberg outfit that had been so pleasing to the eye for much of the season instantly became one that struggled to find any rhythm at all in the first half.
Friend went without a touch for large periods of the game, while a noticeably ill Papadopoulos seemed to have lost that vital turn of speed.
Verzi was over-hitting through balls in a valiant yet unsuccessful attempt to create some offence, while the normally super reliable Rita Mankowska was shanking her clearances everywhere but back up the pitch.
No such problems on the Box Hill front, as Amanda Lawless literally trampled on Heidelberg goalkeeper Alice Ryan as she bundled home her seventh goal in three games.
Defender Jessica Humble then got into the act too as the ball bounced around the Heidelberg penalty area for what seemed like an eternity, even entering the goal and then rebounding out at least twice before the referee gave it.
In the second half Heidelberg’s tactics continued to fail them, as they showed remarkable stubbornness in persevering with two strikers up front despite insufficient service.
No surprise then as Bisby scored a third goal halfway through the second period as she converted a Lawless cross with a mighty swing of her left boot.
Verzi was finally moved to central defence, with Sarah Groenewald released back into familiar territory in midfield but it was more or less all over by then as Box Hill finished the game at a canter.
The Pelada Cup Final will be held at Lakeside Stadium on 18 August with kick-off at 3pm. Entry is free.
You can follow Zee on Twitter @Zee_Ko.
Bundoora United: 33. Zaira DOUGLAS [gk], 13. Claudia FRUSCALZO, 4. Melissa MISSAILIDIS, 5. Tayla EVANS, 9. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 12. Matilda FORD, 21. Sarah RICHARDSON, 14. Rachel ALONSO, 3. Stephanie GALEA, 17. Stephanie ODDO, 40. Michelle ZILIC
Interchange Bench: 11. Rebecca LI ROSI (unused), 31. Alexandra BOGDANOVSKI [gk] (unused), 24. Busra MANKIR, 22. Kelly BOUGAS
Withdrawn: 2. Catherine WYLIE-O’BRIEN
Goals: Vlajnic (24’), Zilic (30’)
Altona City: 1. Christine FONUA [gk], 2. Lisa FONUA, 3. Georgia SMITH, 15. Clarissa ALLERTON, 5. Bridget ROGERS, 6. Aliesha NEWMAN, 10. Kerri LITTLE, 8. Jessica RADIC, 7. Aneta KOMIJAT, 9. Sarah LOVETT, 11. Morgan ANDERSON
Interchange Bench: 12. Laura ATHANASIOU, 13. Stephanie NORMNINGTON-DICKENS, 14. Lauren SHARROCKS, 16. Rosanna ARCHER
Withdrawn: 4. Amelia SPIRANOVIC
Yellow Cards: Little (85’)
Box Hill United: 1. Cassandra DIMOVSKI [gk], 3. Yvette MUSCAT, 5. Jessica HUMBLE, 12. Tina GRKINJIC, 14. Georgia KOUTROUVELIS, 16. Louisa BISBY, 10. Grace VINCENT, 13. Emily HULBERT, 2. Ruby FOOTTIT, 11. Amanda LAWLESS, 15. Daniela EGONIDIS
Interchange Bench: 4. Madeline RICHARDSON, 7. Katrina SMITH, 6. Ebru EFE, 8. Padiki DADE, 9. Elaina VATCKY
Goals: Lawless (29’), Humble (39’), Bisby (68’)
Heidelberg United: 1. Alice RYAN [gk], 8. Eleni FAKOS, 6. Rita MANKOWSKA, 19. Sarah GROENEWALD, 16. Jolene MILLER, 32. Tahlia TISOCCO, 4. Michelle VERZI, 17. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 12. Julia NICOLACI, 11, Caitlin FRIEND, 9. Belinda PANNELLA
Interchange Bench: 22. Stefanie GALJAR, 7. Tammy HENDRIKS, 14. Dijana JOSEVSKA, 34. Paula KYPREOS, 23. Maree VOUTHAS
Yellow Cards: Mankowska (20’), Kypreos (84’)