by Liam Watson
A typical season always presents a range of challenges. For Johno Clemente and his women’s side, it suddenly hit like a steam train.
Before the contest even began against one of the league’s strongest sides in Calder United, the ‘Bergers were dealt a major blow losing captain Stephanie Galea.
Clemente knew it was going to be tough. Illness swept through the squad, leaving him scratching his head about how to approach the game.
It was also an opportunity for the Warriors to continue making strides this season, heading into the Calder clash with two wins and a narrow loss.
With the aforementioned difficulties going in, the ‘Bergers defied the odds – and surprised most – when they went 2-0 up after just 11 minutes played.
Grace Jale picked up where she left off in the cup scoring again, before Danielle Wise let fly from outside the area and nailed a cracker.
It was the advantage that became more and more important as the day went on. Thanks to Melissa Maizels in goal, the lead was kept intact if not for some controversy.
In a case of mistaken identity on 79 minutes, Grace Jale kicked the ball away to receive a yellow card, but was incorrectly shown a second one, with another yellow issued to Rebecca Burrows earlier in the game.
Much to the dismay of Clemente, it added another layer to a gruelling afternoon. Calder did get one back late, but the brick wall of a Heidelberg defence kept the hosts at bay, as they continued to throw numbers forward.
It ended a 2-1 victory for the Warriors, in what should shape as a monumental difference maker come the end of the season. A win wasn’t expected, but the ‘Bergers always find a way.
Clemente summed up the team’s character post-match:
“The fight of the group is incredible,” he said.
“We’ve got about seven girls not feeling the best – thankfully all Covid negative – and the warm up was really bad.
“Credit to Calder, because they are a top team and on another day they take their chances.
“If we can battle against Calder, we can do it against anyone.
“I’ve never seen a team like this one that can just grind and dig in, especially with people sick and walking wounded.
“To hold on against Calder off the back of our 120-minute cup victory, you can’t ask for much more at the moment.”
Calder United 1 (A.Taranto 86’) – Heidelberg United 2 (G.Jale 6’, D.Wise 11’)
1 – Melissa Maizels (GK)
2 – Emily Roach
4 – Danielle Wise
5 – Elly Torre (c)
6 – Felicity Georgopoulos
8 – Kathryn Vlahopoulos (9 – Keely Lockhart 59’ – 3 DiBlasi 90’)
10 – Rebecca Burrows
16 – Isabella Wallhead
18 – Eve Tiktikakis
22 – Elwen Parbery
23 – Grace Jale
Subs not used:
20 – Natasha Stathopoulos (GK)