Apollo delivers ‘first scare’

Apollo v International

International has enjoyed a seamless premiership defence so far in the 2022 Steeline Bendigo Bank Limestone Coast Football Association senior women’s season.

The black and blue have had an answer for everything their rivals threw at them with a perfect 10 from 10 record.

It was starting to become a question of who could be second best, but Inter experienced its first speed bump of 2022 in last weekend’s round 11.

After falling just short in some competitive clashes earlier this year, Apollo looked the most likely team to give International a hard time and did just that on home turf on Saturday.

On the line was the inaugural Mrs Panagopoulos and Mrs Thomas Cup and both sides put their availability issues to one side and went hard for the win.

The fancied black and blue started on the front foot and threatened to score almost straight away.

But the home side was not going to go down wondering and also put the Inter defence under pressure with the likes of Dahlia Dahlia and Deni Atkin getting close, including one shot which had an unlucky deflection off the post.

Eventually the class of International made the difference when an Ella Doody cross was successfully completed by Skye Robertson.

Apollo did not allow the setback to slow its momentum and the home side did find some reward for its continual pressure and work rate.

Once again Atkin and Dahlia looked dangerous and this time the latter was able to find the back of the net after a quick break.

In the exciting chain of events International responded once again when Evany Rex stepped up to the plate and put her side back in front with a clean strike.

Being 2-1 up Inter would have been confident of closing out the contest and making it 11 wins from as many attempts.

However, Apollo had other ideas and created many nervous moments for the black and blue defenders during the intense back and forth closing stages.

Despite the odds not being in their favour the home side brought the crowd to life with a counterattack down the left wing by the ever-threatening Atkin.

She found Dahlia, who caught her rivals napping and nailed the play perfectly to score her second goal to level the scoreboard much to the opposition’s surprise.

Although the hosts kept pressing a 2-2 draw was the fair result after a hard-fought game.

Apollo left with a spring in its step knowing it can challenge the premiership favourites across the full 90 minutes.

“After a hard-fought game we came away with a 2-2 draw,” International coach Ricky McRobert said.

“We started off strongly, using the width to create come great early chances.

“However we struggled to break through a well-structured defence and were caught off guard by a quick Apollo counterattack so the game finished 2-2.”

“Both teams were understrength, but the commitment could not be questioned,” Apollo coach James Stephenson said.

“The girls had to dig deep to get anything from an Inter team that had not dropped a point all season and to their credit they continued to battle and everyone played their part.”

Blue Lake v Millicent

Second placed Blue Lake welcomed fifth placed Millicent to Malseed Park and cruised to the premiership points.

The Rangers midfield was at their best linking up nicely to control proceedings and put the visiting defenders on the back foot early.

Lauren and Chelsea Frost put in the hard yards alongside Aidene Wilkinson to set the tone and a long-range strike from Jasmine White ensured their dominance was translated onto the scoreboard before half time.

Despite the on-pitch dominance, Blue Lake had not kicked Millicent out of the game just yet, but the grand work of Kayleen Vanua and White on the wings ensured the hosts stayed on top.

Once co-captain Aimee Brooks found the back of the net, the Rangers scored with ease as her and White both struck twice in the 5-0 win.

Naracoorte

v Gambier Centrals

Despite the high-profile absences of Kiah Connelly and Janaye Donaldson, Gambier Centrals was able to return from its road trip to Naracoorte with a big goal difference boosting win.

After both sides took some time to find their feet, the Lions settled in first and went on the attack.

New recruit Drew Neavin did not take long to make a big impression and helped setup the perfect chance for Louise O’Callaghan to open the scoring.

Despite the early goal, the young Naracoorte side showed some spirit and held firm to stay in the game for the majority of the first half.

It was not until the stroke of half time when Centrals was allowed to score again.

But a clean strike from Olivia Gwilym fired up the Lions and they went on the charge after the break.

Gwilym was the star with four goals, while Rose Irakoze, Neavin, O’Callaghan and Wanita Robinson all joined her on the scorer’s list.

This was all achieved amidst one nervy passage of play when Masoma Panahi scored an uplifting goal bringing Naracoorte to within one goal of the fancied visitors, but the hosts could not sustain the fight after a promising start.

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