Slice of Cheese

Zebras Earn their Stripes against the Warriors

MyState Women’s Super League | Clarence Zebras vs Olympia FC Warriors | Wentworth Park 18th July 2021

It is always a great spectacle when these two sides meet. Both powerhouses in recent years with the battle for trophies swaying from one to the other. Current League champions, Olympia faced one of the biggest challenges of the season as they travelled to Wentworth Park to meet Clarence Zebras.

Zebras went into this game, ten points clear at the top of the WSL and it would seem that only Olympia Warriors have the chance at stopping them from winning the title race.

Clarence Zebras Keeper, Shelley Cook was put under early pressure as the Warriors drove forward. This soon changed for the majority of the first half as Zebras set pieces and passing to feet was slick and the Warriors were unable to keep the ball. The speedier pace the Zebras were playing was in contrast to Olympia who at times looked bewildered as Allie Berry caused threat after threat.

Allie Berry continues to be a threat in the Golden Boot Race. Picture: Solstice Digital.

In the 31st Minute, Olympia Keeper Kacee Ponting came off the field with an unknown issue. In a wonderful act of sportsmanship, opponents on the field, but Ponting’s mate off the field, Clarence Zebras markswoman Zoe Nichols offered words of support and comfort. There wasn’t much time for Coach Matt Kilsby to make the necessary changes, but replacing Ponting with youngster Meggie Goscombe, moving her into goal was the solution. Kilsby also made changes to the structure of the Warriors, given the change in personnel.

There was no change that could have been made to stop the first goal from the Zebras however as captain Mady O’Brien, whose practice in the SFLW would appear to be paying off, struck an AFL-Esque curling ball from distance,¬†chipping Goscombe into the back of the net.

O’Brien with a stunning hit from distance. Picture: Solstice Digital

Clarence Zebras continued to apply pressure on the Warriors as they went into the break. Plenty to talk about here in the changing rooms at Wentworth Park.

Half Time Score:

Clarence Zebras 1 (O’Brien ’36) – Olympia FC Warriors 0

Zebras were ready and waiting for their opponents at the start of the second half, with plenty of chipper talk from the side. With the play in the first ten minutes of the second half mainly in the Olympia half. Breakthroughs for Olympia came courtesy of up-and-coming star, Ella McConnen, who continued to press down the flank, but to no avail. The Warriors gained more composure and structure, playing out more set pieces and keeping Zebras working for the ball.

Ella McConnen, a great addition to the Warriors’ line-up. Picture: Solstice Digital

It wasn’t enough though to keep the galloping Zebras at bay, when another precision kick from O’Brien slipped through the fingers of Goscombe, landing at the feet of Lou Marmion who needed no second chance to slam it past the keeper to double the lead.

Olympia however were not beaten and quick to answer, with a solid run down the midfield by Olympia captain Inocent Micheal and a great through ball to Josie Mamic who followed the ball through into the net. Mamic has scored three goals in four games for Olympia this season, after her return from injury. This was another occasion for her to try and level the scores. Olympia need this goal-scoring boost to their side after the departure of 2020 Golden Boot winner, Bonnie Davies who now plays for Heidelberg in NPLW Victoria.

Some impressive runs by Caitlin Stalker kept the Olympia defence on their toes, but the Warriors were more buoyant in the second half, with some impressive defending also against the Zebras usual suspects of Allie Berry, Zoe Nichols and Lou Marmion. They continued with composure to keep Zebras from making chances, but too often found themselves back in their own half.

It was Allie Berry with the last kick of the game, scoring in stoppage time with a direct strike into the net to cement the lead for Zebras and add to her ever-increasing goal tally as she continues to lead the 2021 golden boot race with 13 goals over 8 games so far this season.

It will be interesting to see if anyone can now prevent Clarence Zebras from lifting the WSL trophy, after this result.

Full-Time Score:

Clarence Zebras 3 (O’Brien ’36, Marmion ’66, Berry ’93) – Olympia FC Warriors 1 (Mamic ’67)