First Grade: South Coast Flame 0-2 UNSW FC
The Flame girls were looking to take the three points this weekend against UNSW, who just pipped them at the post in the first game of the season.
The game was very even for the first 20 minutes of play with Ruby Blanch, Ebony Freeman and Sariah Wilson exerting control of the midfield. Against the run of play, UNSW were able to break free down the left hand side to get a cross in the box. Alexis Malizis made a tackle but the ball bobbled into the UNSW players favour, and the attacker was able to pull the trigger to make it 1-0.
For the remainder of the half, the Flame girls were able to dominate possession and defend the majority of the long balls. Switching play through Freeman and Darby Walsh across the back was effective but the girls could not break the stubborn defence of UNSW.
After half time, the Flame girls again started to dictate play with early shots on target by Caley Tallon-Henniker cutting in from the left, and Blanch rattled the cross bar from a free kick on the 78th minute.
The Flame injected Emi Skopal, Bethany Nielsen and Bethany Horton for a more attacking approach. Caitlin Russel made two great saves to keep the score 1-0 and give the Flame girls a chance to get a result from the game.
With the Flame girls now dominating the proceedings, they still could not consolidate the chances created.
In the dying minutes of the game, UNSW were able to finish the game with an excellent finish on the edge of the box.
Player of the week: Caitlin Russel
Put in a dominant effort in goals as a stand-in goalkeeper.
U/20: South Coast Flame 1-2 UNSW FC
A chilly evening to conclude Sponsors Day where South Coast Flame and UNSW clashed for the second time this season, with the home side hoping to start round two on a positive note.
The home side started with two U/16 debutants in Ella Churchill and Samantha Shallcross who were absolutely buzzing for their first senior start.
Flame kept possession well in the opening stanza but struggled to break down the deep mid-third block of UNSW who were defending with discipline and then hitting hard on the counter attack with balls over the heads of the Flame defenders.
Lili Rosandic and Jessica Bermudes were starting to find their groove in midfield and break down the UNSW block. Tidy combinations from Ava Parry, Sam Shallcross and Hazel Atkins had the UNSW backline twisting and turning but ultimately the final touch was missing.
On 30 minutes, a precise through-ball from UNSW found their striker in possession outside the area who calmly chipped the ball over the stranded Tahlia Sharrock in the South Coast goal to give the visitors the lead.
South Coast did not take a backwards step after this and instead began to push harder for the equaliser and it nearly came in the last minute of the half. A brilliant long diagonal pass from Lili Rosandic found Hazel Atkins in open space with just the goalkeeper to beat. Just as Atkins was about to take her shot, a desperate UNSW defender slid in to save the day for the away side and keep their lead going into the half.
A change in structure for Flame at half time saw immediate benefits as they started the second half the stronger. Flame were finding space between the UNSW mid-third block and were finally able to drive at the backline. Unfortunately, against the run of play, another precise through ball from UNSW found their striker uncontested in the penalty area. Her shot somehow squeezing under the arms of the Flame goalkeeper to double UNSW lead early in the half.
The confidence in the home side was still high as Flame pushed again with Brooke Love and Hazel Atkins playing passes in behind for Parry and Shallcross to run on to and it was only a matter of time until Flame struck.
Half way through the second half, Brooke Love played a tidy through-ball which found Sam Shallcross one-on-one with the UNSW goalkeeper. The young gun made no mistake and slotted it calmly passed the oncoming goalkeeper to halve the deficit for the home side; Shallcross grabbing her first senior goal on her debut.
Belief had been restored for the Flame as they continued to push for a second. Ella Churchill was having the game of her life as she came to the rescue on multiple occasions, and was starting to find splitting passes into midfield that broke UNSW block.
Flame may have seen themselves with an equaliser if it wasn’t for some more desperate defending from the away side, who eventually ran out 2-1 winners.
Although we did not come away with a point, the spirit the team showed is a positive sign for what is to come for the remaining 14 rounds of the season.
South Coast Flame finished the game with six players under the age of 16 on the field, and nine under the age of 16 on the team sheet- a perfect example of the pathway we have developed and a promise that the future is bright for the Flame.
Player of the week: Sam Shallcross
Sam made her first U/20’s start against UNSW and took the opportunity with both hands. She was dynamic in the front third, attacking the much older, larger UNSW defenders with confidence. The composure she showed to score her goal in the second half was sublime and on another day, she may have two or three more.
A massive congratulations to Sam on a spectacular starting debut, capped off with her first senior goal.