By George Rahovitsas
It might have ended in a scoreless draw, but that hardly tells the story of the top of the table clash between third placed Heidelberg and second placed Bulleen. The game was replete with incredible moments and talking points.
Both sides had scored 40 goals in 10 NPL games this season, but it was to be a story of the defensive efforts that shone the brightest today.
Despite not having co-captain Steph Galea in its line up, Heidelberg overcame some of its early game woes by denying Bulleen any early goal opportunities. The game was played predominantly in the middle third for most of the first half, in a constant tug of war to win possession and retain it.
Even the dynamic goal scoring trio of Langley, Allen and Garcia found themselves at times operating as wingbacks, thus adding to the midfield imbroglio. On the few occasions clean possession was won, there was seemingly little room going forward as each side how built a fortress to prevent any attacks.
Elly Torre and Ellen Turner were pillars of strength on their respective wings, virtually impossible to beat, even by Bulleen’s electrifying wingers. Going the other way, they wer prepared to take the game on, several times dazzling with daring breaks to release the shackles.
The ferocity of the contest lifted in the second half, with both sides refusing to concede the initiative. Bulleen looked to penetrate through the centre of the ground, but like the wings were met by an organised Heidelberg defence.
At the forefront of all the ‘Bergers defensive might was Robers, who put in a phenomenal defensive display. Nothing got by her, as he made numerous clever intercepts and important clearances. Behind her, the Fonuas and Gallucio stood up to the test and followed suit, displaying great composure.
With fatigue setting in late in the game, Bulleen finally got a shot on target from close range. However, Christine Fonua, as she has done so many times made an empathic reflex save that tipped the ball over the cross bar.
In response, Garcia, well held for the most part, almost won the game for the ‘Bergers, breaking free of the Bulleen defence to fire away a shot on goal. However, Emily Shields got finger tips to it, with the ball coming back obligingly off the post and back into her lap.
It was a game filled with physicality until the final whistle blew, perhaps the defining moment of the match was the head on collision between Sidney Allen and Emily Shields. Both had eyes only on the ball and the collision saw both players hit the ground dazed, but eventually get up to resume the battle. A single incident that epitomised the will and determination of neither side willing to compromise anything to get a result – a wonderful advertisement for Women’s Football.
Heidelberg United FC 0 – 0 FC Bulleen Lions
Heidelberg United FC 1 – 1 FC Bulleen Lions