The resumption of the 2021 Steeline Limestone Coast Football Association Senior Women’s season brought out the best in players last weekend.
The second round saw a variety of entertaining games, but none more so than the Millicent and Apollo fixture at McLaughlin Park on Saturday.
After both sides failed to fire in the opening round a fortnight ago, there was a lot on the line when they clashed and the intensity was palpable during a tight first half.
The visitors were on the back foot early with just 10 players on the field as the hosts also kicked with the wind.
Despite missing a couple of senior players, eventually Apollo had a full team on the pitch and both young sides created chances, but could not find the back of the net during as the arm wrestle got tighter.
Nothing split the sides at the half time break and the tension grew when they returned to the pitch.
Armed with the wind Apollo looked dangerous moving forward with some clean and calculated passes.
The visitors hard work paid off when Daylia Daylia finally opened the scoring with a clean strike to put the blue and white in front.
However, Apollo’s celebrations did not last long after the home side found an immediate response.
Letitia Izzo was Millicent’s number-one striker and she turned the game on its head by nailing the back of the net twice in the matter of minutes.
Suddenly the hosts turned a deficit into a one-goal lead and they were keen to get the job done.
But Apollo still had plenty of fight left and a clean free kick from Evie Thompson put the game on even terms once again.
With the scoreboard locked at 2-2, Zoe Brooksby proved to be the hero when her header snuck past the goalkeeper’s fingertips, hit the post and went over the line.
Amazingly the drama did not end there after Millicent was adamant it found the equalizer.
The home side was determined to avoid a second-straight defeat, pressed hard and thought they levelled the scoreboard in the dying stages.
But the goal was disallowed after the striker was ruled offside which sapped Millicent’s hopes as Apollo held on for a thrilling 3-2 win.
Goalkeeper Nelsay Htoo Bwee had an “excellent” game and was a big reason behind the win, while juniors Charlotte Stafford and Sarah England also stood out in their respective defensive and attacking roles.
Apollo coach Christopher Harris said his team left everything on the pitch in search of victory.
“The girls were done and played hard the whole game, so there was not much left in the tank,” he said.
“Millicent worked the ball well and put us under pressure, but our defence was resolute, building from the back and pushing the ball out.
“Sometimes it just goes down to the luck of the draw as to how things finish off.” Having fielded an undermanned team and suffered a difficult 10-2 defeat at the hands of Gambier Centrals in the opening round, a return to form was much needed for Apollo.
Harris said the resurgent performance puts his team’s 2021 campaign back on track as he prepares to face Intera side with winning form against Apollo.
“It is a huge mental boost and hopefully gets them prepared for the upcoming game against Inter which will not be a walkover,” he said.
“We went down to them in the Steeline Cup, but we scored a couple goals off them, so if the team can settle down into their playing positions it will be hard-fought game.” Inter heads into this weekend’s round 3 battle with a different frame of mind after going down to a confident Blue Lake United outfit.
Playing in front of a home crowd at Casadio Park, International was blown away in the first half.
A Lauren Frost hat-trick which included a near-impossible goal from a corner effectively sealed the result, while Annaleise Canala also found the back of the net.
But the second half was much more encouraging for the hosts thanks to Amy Nitsche, who put Inter on the board, while the vic- tors could also only manage one more goal before the final whistle.
Following the 4-1 win Blue Lake United looks to keep the good form rolling against an improving Naracoorte.
After a forgettable debut, the newbies showed they mettle and gave a strong Centrals outfit a run for their money.
In the end, a fast start from the Lions sealed a 4-0 win, but the Naracoorte players could hold their heads high from a gritty second half.
Goal scorers Anna-Louise Cory, Emma O’Callaghan, Danika Picken and Leonie Robertson will hunt more success this Saturday when Centrals host Millicent.