Slice of Cheese

Johnstone Secures Clarences Survival

Clarence United claimed a 1-0 win over University in their Round 18 WSL game thanks to a goal from Amber Johnstone. In what was essentially a relegation 6 pointer, the result will almost certainly condemn the Bees to a playoff game against Olympia and secure the Reds survival in the Super League.

In a match were defensive structure was the name of the game, both sides came out wary of each other. After heading into the break goalless, clearly it was going to take a bit more in the second half from either side to find the break through. The second half saw Uni grasp control of the match however they were unable to make it count on the scoreboard. Instead it was Clarence with their first opportunity of the half who capitalised.

From the beginning of the match it became abundantly clear defence was to hold the key for both sides, with the first part of the half seemingly a game of chess, as the sides sussed each other out to find a weakness in the shield surrounding the goals. For Clarence in the first half it was a matter of sitting back, enduring the pressure from Uni and countering down the flanks with pace.

The away sides best chance of the half coming at the end of the half, where a low cross pumped in by Melissa Harrison saw the ball loose in the box after a Mikalha George diving save stopped the ball sneaking into the far corner. Meanwhile Uni were given the time and space to build up play, but were shut out of the box being limited to long range, hopeful chances from a distance.

University’s best chance came midway through the half, when Georgia Burley found some space behind the line, received the ball and thundered into the penalty area, but goalkeeper Vanderniet stood up strong, blocking the on coming shot.

At the start of the second half, there was a sense that if either side could just score one goal it may well be enough for victory. Somehow Clarence found themselves playing even more defensive in the second half than the first, having dropped a forward deeper in an effort to block out space for Uni to thrive in. University took that in their stride, creating some dangerous opportunities but also kicking themselves in the foot as they were unable to put many of their chances on target. Against the run of play, in line with Clarence’s strategy, in the 69th minutes Harrison found her first bit of space all match after a quick ball from the midfield released her into striking distance. Not scared to take the hit from distance, Harrison lined up a powerful shot, which George was able to palm away. Unfortunately for her, the ball was palmed into the path of oncoming Clarence player Amber Johnstone, who made no mistake, putting her side ahead.

With a goal under their belts, and having been contempt to park the bus anyway, Clarence sat back as Uni desperately tried to find something special to get anything out of this match. Despite pushing as many players forward as possible, at times only having 2 defenders, Uni were just unable to find anything which could possibly break down the wall of defence.

The substitution of Sophie Muir added another dimension in attack for the home side, with the best chances towards the dying stages of the match coming through her. However the challenge of coming from behind against a strong defence proved too much for University, the home side succumbing to a painful defeat in their attempts to get off the bottom of the ladder and clear of relegation. Meanwhile Clarence’s game plan succeeded to a tee, seeing them receive a boost in their own attempt to remain in the WSL next season, now sitting 7 points clear of University and surely all but secure. 

 

Long time footy supporter and player, short time referee and blogger.Wanna-be know it all about women’s soccer. Also found at MollysFootyRants for more ramblings about football.