Slice of Cheese

Reds Claim Crucial Point From Zebras

Solstice Photography

Clarence United moved a step closer to safety, moving six points clear of University after they forced a stalemate with the Hobart Zebras. In an arm wrestle at Wentworth Park, the sides couldn’t be separated as the game finished locked at 0-0.

It was a game where a few questions were asked, but no answers were found. The true winner of the match was scrappy play. In a match not for the faint of heart, both sides weren’t afraid to bring some physicality into the game. Whilst this racked up the free kick tally, the ultimate tactical advantage wasn’t found by either side. In the setting of the dreary weather of Wentworth Park, a goalless, physical draw seemed the most appropriate scoreline as neither side were able to dazzle or find a clear flow in the match.

The match started with a buzz. Both sides looked busy early on, with Zebras finding momentum early and Clarence quick to attempt balls in behind the defence. As Clarence have proven a difficult team to break down in recent weeks, things looked promising for the Zebras early as they were finding ways to get the ball through tight spaces. However the away side were unable to capitalise on the gaps they were creating in the Clarence defence, and all too quickly Clarence’s defence reorganised themselves and the gaps were harder to come by as the game wore on.

By the last 15 minutes of the half, Clarence found themselves having the run of play after the early momentum of the Zebras lost steam. A couple long balls forward by Clarence, nearly saw the likes of Nicola Davie and Isobel Kearney through on separate occasions. However the Zebras centre backs were prepared for the task and made sure the ball was cleared before the opportunity opened up for the Clarence forwards. Right before the half, the Zebras looked to turn the heat up, pressing Clarence in search of the right combination to unlock the defence. However they were locked out of the penalty area and couldn’t find what was needed for a goal.

The start of the second half didn’t see play open up any more for either side. Having to work hard to get the ball out of the middle of the park, it was a tough slog for both sides. Clarence looked threatening a number of times during the half by pressing the Zebras when the away side were looking to play the ball out from defence. Those passes between the Zebras defenders and their goalkeeper just couldn’t get clicking or find the composure the side normally has in their passing game, as Clarence looked to press any pass looking remotely loose and locking the Zebras in their own defensive area at time

Clarence looked set to take the lead when Davie and Grzinic pounced on a poor clearance, linking up well, and appearing through on goal until being called back for offside.

It wasn’t all one way in the second half. The Zebras had chances, with Sarah Morris and Danielle Kannegiesser carrying on from the first half, working the flanks but unable to find the right cross or shot to break the deadlock. Credit to both sets of goalkeepers, as the game got scrappy and the long balls over the top of the defence started to come, both were quick off their line to bring an end to the attack.

As Clarence had their spell in the middle of the half, the Zebras wrestled momentum back for the last ten minutes of the match. In extra time, the chances kept coming for the Zebras. They were able have some meaningful possession and moved the ball around their midfield, linking it with attackers moving between the lines. In turn, this earned them a couple of free kicks in dangerous areas. One free kick taken by Georgia Burt thundered just over the bar. Whilst the last free kick of the match caused problems for the Clarence defence, as Alyssa Bowden sent a deep free kick into a crowded penalty area, however the ball found its way into the safe hands of Amelia Vanderniet moments before the final whistle.

The resulting stalemate between the sides is reflective of both teams doggedness to keep the other at bay. Some quality goalkeeping and tactical defence made sure neither side were able to go away with the advantage. It’s back to the drawing board for both teams forwards, who just couldn’t create the all important, match winning moment.