International’s undefeated reign at the top of the 2022 Steeline Bendigo Bank Limestone Coast Football Association ladder has been maintained, but only just.
The black and blue hosted Apollo in the fight for the Michielan Cup at Casadio Park in the massive clash of the sixth round of the season.
Earlier this year the blue and white sprung a surprise by taking the fight right up to the reigning premiers and the rematch was another tight affair, but surprisingly higher scoring considering the winter weather.
Inter have not skipped a beat yet and they were committed to keeping the record intact.
The side coached by Ricky McRobert started with plenty of intent applying constant pressure on the Apollo defenders at the southern end of the pitch.
The likes of Evany Rex, Satu Aumo and Leonie Robertson strung plenty of players together through the midfield and hurried their opponents to give the strikers numerous opportunities to score.
Eventually the blue and white could not continue to withstand the pressure and a slip in defence allowed Leonie Robertson to open the scoring.
Buoyed by the breakthrough, the black and blue kept the foot down and were rewarded for their efforts when a stroke of luck went their way and penalty was awarded after a bouncing ball struck Maddi Ryan.
The prolific Ella Doody did not need a second invitation and she slotted the shot from close range with ease.
Enjoying a 2-0 lead at half time, International looked set to continue its winning form and this was only heightened when another strong passage of play was finished off by the boot of captain April Hockey.
Having conceded three goals, few would have given Apollo a chance, but the young and determined side gave it a crack.
The visitors stepped up their intensity and started to create a few windows of opportunity following a tweak of formation at the main break.
Suddenly Apollo enjoyed more of the play and forced International onto the back foot with Evie Thompson and Daylia Daylia looking likely to score.
But it was the boot of Deni Atkin which brought the game to life when she finished a smart play setup by Isobelle Frewster, who kicked a precise cross after running hard down the right wing.
Rhianna Shelton was also hopeful of a fightback and she pounced on a small opportunity and sent a worm burner into the bottom corner.
Suddenly there was only one goal in it and the fate of the Michielan Cup was up in the air, but International used its experience and composure to hold on 3-2.
Inter coach McRobert said the win was set up by a dominant first half.
“Inter started off very strongly, applying constant pressure on the Apollo defence and creating multiple opportunities,” he said.
“The midfield worked hard, putting together some great passages of play to supply a number of through balls to our forward line of Ella Doody, April Hockey and Amy Nitsche.
“However, with a 3-0 lead, the team became complacent, consequently conceding two goals.
“Despite a shaky end to the game, we are proud to be the recipients of the inaugural Women’s Michielan Cup.”
Blue Lake travelled to McLaughlin Park looking to tighten their grip on second spot on the ladder and did just that.
The Rangers ventured their way through the mud and their Millicent opponents to register a comfortable win.
They only needed three minutes to score thanks to the trusty boot Chelsea Frost.
Frost and co-captain Aimee Brooks combined well up forward and created plenty of headaches for the hosts.
Frost continued her scoring run and completed an astonishing hat-trick inside the first half.
With Amber Lindquist, Jasmine White and Aidene Parr also finding the back of the net, the Blues were in cruise control.
The only blemish on an otherwise complete day was an own goal.
Gambier Centrals was just as ruthless disposing of Naracoorte – 8-0 away from home.
Despite the anticipated return of Erin Horsnell, the Lions were still not at full strength with five starts out of action and no one on the bench.
However, those watching the action would have been unaware as Centrals took control and never lost it.
Horsnell marked her return with a goal inside the first 10 minutes which opened the door for Kiah Connolly and Olivia Gwilym to follow suit.
The Lions had adapted to the tricky conditions in the second half as Wanita Robinson made a double strike including one from outside of the box.
As Horsnell powered to a hat-trick, Nithya Bangalore also joined in on the fun to complete a solid team effort for Centrals.