South Melbourne FC’s Senior Women returned to winning ways with a 3-0 win over the Melbourne Knights at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Coming off the back of their first two losses of the league season against Melbourne University and Eltham Redbacks, Coach Socrates Nicolaidis was keen for a positive result against the Knights. The team featured some faces recently missing from the pitch, with Shannon Foden and Alex Cheal both returning from injury.
The squad’s actions in the first ten minutes set the scene for the rest of the match. They pressed high, made aggressive runs down both flanks and held the majority of possession. Despite playing the majority of the first 45 minutes in the attacking half of the pitch, South was unable to find the back of the net and it was 0-0 at half time.
After the break, the girls started off with the same attacking pressure and were rewarded early on. Caitlin Greiser found space in the box to go one-on-one with the keeper. Her shot was blocked but the ball rebounded to the edge of the area for Renee Laszczak to side-foot it into the net and give South the lead.
Eliza Gleadell caused problems for the Knights as she constantly used her pace down the right to get in behind the defence and feed the ball into the area. The routine continued and on 60 minutes, following multiple chances, the net was again sent flying backwards into the advertising hoarding. It was Greiser latching on to the cross from Gleadell and with the Knights keeper stranded, Greiser doubled South’s lead.
South continued to press forward in front of the Lakeside crowd, which was building as part of the club’s double-header. The team continued to have chances in front of goal but the pressure they put on the Knights defence went unrewarded.
The final goal came on 83 minutes when South won a free kick twenty-five yards out in front of goal. With designated free kick taker Stella Rebholz travelling her way around Europe, forward Sara Alberici stepped up to do the honours. Her strike was well-lofted towards the right post. The Knights keeper moved well to palm it down from above head height but the clearing kick from the defender saw the ball rebound back off the keeper and over the line. The referee officially credited the goal to Alberici, who increases her lead at the top of the South Women’s golden boot tally.
After the match, smfc.com.au spoke with goal scorer Caitlin Greiser, who shared her thoughts on the game. “It was a great game out there today. It was our second double-header with the senior men’s team and this time we were able to show the supporters what we are capable of doing. Again we had many chances in front of goal that we weren’t able to put away, however seeing a 3-0 win on the Lakeside scoreboard is encouraging.”
Shannon Foden returned to the pitch for the first time in nine weeks following injury. “I thought we did well through the midfield with some good linkages of play. They didn’t have a lot going forward but our defence held really strong. There are some areas we can improve on going forward but we did link up very well through the middle of the park, which is what Soc wanted us to focus on.
[Today was] definitely a positive result and the girls can go into next week and the catch-up rounds with their heads held high. At training this week, we’ll again focus on passing and moving the ball, specifically throughout the middle of the park. It’s mainly us fine-tuning our play at the moment but the win today is definitely a boost as we head into the second half of the season.”
Shannon also reflected on her time away from the game and returning after a nine week absence. “I am a lot fitter than I thought I was and almost managed to run out a full first game. Nine weeks out doesn’t help but the girls have been really supportive and that has been good.”
South’s Senior Women host the Ballarat Eureka Strikers at Lakeside Stadium next Sunday. In the Round Two meeting between the sides, South left Morshead Park with a 4-2 win but Ballarat have recorded good results since then and South will need to be on their toes to maintain their top-two position on the ladder. Kick off is at 2pm this coming Sunday 26 June.