Melville women nab a great win

Melville Premier Women have claimed their biggest scalp of the season in rolling previous WaiBOP W League leaders Claudelands Rovers.

The 2-1 win caps a 3-match unbeaten streak and has moved Melville to fifth in the table

Melville coach Laichyn Parkinson said times have been tough recently, with new players adjusting to life at Gower Park as well as playing at federation level.

“However, after a couple of early season jitters against the top BOP sides things have turned for the better,” he said.

A draw against a youthful Blue Rovers triggered a much-needed renaissance, with a challenge laid down to get hungry on the field, and bring the physicality and execution needed to play at federation level.

Melville then showed great fight to beat Wanderers 4-0 away, scoring three in the final 20 minutes.

But the big test was always going to be against top-of-the-table Claudelands.

Things were made even tougher before kick off with the withdrawal of new midfielder Katie Marshall due to sickness, while star winger Clare Mackintosh was resting a quad strain. This opened up the opportunity for reserve players April Haines and Tonianne Sizer to step up for the first team.

Backs against the wall brought out the best in the team.

Melville struck first when the ball was spread wide onto the right, winger Johnelle Wereta was able to get a dangerous cross into the box where it was meet by T. Sizer who drew a good stop from the keeper. The save however was parried into the path of the approaching Emma Sizer who smashed home from close range to put Melville ahead in the 4th minute.

The response was immediate from Rovers who upped their passing game and looked to attack the flanks with their star players.

However, the back Melville back three of Brianna Uivel, Hannah Buesnel (c) and Dion Henley were more than equal to the challenge while midfielders Emma Sizer, Jessica Sizer, Shannen Perry and Natasha Murrihy-Paulussen created a solid block in the middle of the park.

Rovers got their goal though in the 15th minute when a low driven shot drew a good save from Melville keeper Lieselle Irwin, but the ball was pushed into the path of Rhiannon Jones, who scored.

This had been where previously Melville had faltered, but not on this occasion.

Melville defended resolutely and it frustrated Rovers. They pushed players further forward which allowed the Melville counter-attack to pick holes down the wings with some pinpoint two- touch passing.

“When things remained even at halftime you could clearly see two different sides going into the sheds,” Parkinson said.

“One who was determined and ready to prove the doubters wrong and another was shell shocked and looking for answers on how to break down a solid defensive unit.”

Parkinson called for 45 minutes of hunger, tenacity and dedication, and the second half settled into much of the same tone as the first, a no-nonsense Melville outfit and a Rovers side intent on trying to break them down.

There were plenty of chances, but none managed to find their way into the back of the Melville net. A low cross into the 6-yard box drew another good save from Irwin who backed that up with a diving save to her right off the follow up.

A well worked passing move sent Bailey Guilford on a breakaway right at the end of the game, the Rovers defenders getting back to put it out for a corner.

Wereta put in another great corner which Guilford managed to connect with, again drawing a good save from the keeper before following up and smashing it into the back of the net and sending Gower Park into madness.

The match finished shortly afterwards but not before Rovers’ Rachel Porteous got herself “green carded” for dissent.

Parkinson said the result proved two things for Melville.

“You can beat the big teams if you give 120 per cent and stick to a game plan,” he said.

“It also proved that having a purpose with your possession goes a long way to winning the game.”

TDO-sponsored player of the day went to Natasha Murrihy-Paulussen for a gritty performance in defensive midfield while New Delhi Indian Restaurant-sponsored player of the day went to young centreback Dion Henley who dealt well with her WaiBop representative winger.

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