Updated: May 28
A wonder strike from Jacinta Coleman late in the game clinched all three points for the Redbacks in Friday nights 1st vs 2nd clash against MUM FC in Round 7 of the NPLW WA.
Going into the game, both sides were on a run of 4 consecutive wins, with MUM FC scoring goals for fun, having put 21 goals past their opponents in their 6 games this season. Redbacks hadn't been as prolific but had still scored 14 goals making them the 2nd highest-scoring team in the league behind MUM FC, so the game promised to be one full of goals.
When the teams lined up for the start, there was a nervous feeling with the Redbacks supporters, as the back four consisted of no less than 3 teenagers. Chloe Finnegan was making her debut, and the only player from the defence who was in the team when these two sides last met in the Top 4 semi-final last season was Kim Carroll.
Redbacks were also without Sarah Carroll, Emily Dunn and Carla Bennett so there was a lot resting on the shoulders of Kim, skipper Shawn Billam, goalkeeper Maya Deidreichsen, Larissa Walsh and Jacinta Coleman to provide the experience to help their younger teammates through the toughest test of the season so far.
MUM FC started very strongly, and pretty soon the pattern of the first half was established, with the home team putting Redbacks under continual pressure and not allowing them any breathing space at all on the rare occasions they could get into the MUM FC half. The first chance fell to MUM as early as the 5th minute when Deidreichsen had to be alert to keep out a snapshot from the league's leading scorer Katarina Jukic, and the top of the table team was grateful that Abbey Green didn't do better with her volleyed effort just a minute later, with the ball ending up on top of the net rather than in it.
All the pressure was bound to tell though, and in the 16th minute, the home team broke the deadlock when Charli Wainwright received the ball on the right-hand side of the Redbacks box. Finnegan made an initial tackle, but the young MUM FC midfielder regained the ball and then jinked back into the box to curl a delightful left-footed shot into the opposite corner to leave Deidreichsen stranded. At this stage, it looked as though MUM FC would add more goals, as the chances continued to fall their way but some dogged defending by Redbacks kept them to just one goal when the halftime whistle blew.
Redbacks coach Carlos Vega Mena then showed why he's so highly rated at the club as he made some vital changes for the 2nd half. Renee Leota came on and the back four was re-shaped. These changes gave the team a little more stability at the back and also provided them with a real target for when they played the ball out.
MUM FC was still a threat though, and in the 53rd minute, Jukic capitalised on a heavy first touch by Andreia Teixeira to burst forward on goal. Carroll showed all her experience to slow Jukic down, but the MUM FC striker still managed to get her shot away and it needed a good save low down by Diederichsen to keep the score at 1-0. A follow-up shot by Green was blocked by Quyen Doan and Redbacks were reminded once again of the firepower that MUM FC possess. In the 57th minute, the complexion of the game changed completely when Billam was adjudged to have been brought down in the box by Katie Schubert and the referee pointed to the spot. Carroll strode up to take it and finished with aplomb to record her first NPLW goal for the club and make the score 1-1. There was now a real intensity to the game with the Redbacks players snapping into challenges and not giving their opponents any time at all on the ball, and the home team knew they were now in a game where their opponents were going to go toe to toe with them. In the 64th minute, Redbacks took the lead when Leota expertly rolled her marker and fed a superb ball into the path of Walsh. Her pace took her past the MUM FC defence and she made no mistake with her finish, as she rifled the ball home to make it 2-1. Back came MUM FC though as they searched for an equaliser, and Deidrechsen was again called into action in the 65th minute when she pushed Green's shot over the bar.
The goal of the game arrived in the 86th minute, and it was well worth waiting for. A clearance out of the MUM FC defence was met by Coleman a good 35 yards out. As MUM FC defenders converged, she took the ball forward for a few strides and then unleashed a right-foot shot that sailed high into the sky and then dropped under the bar, beating the despairing dive of Zara Board in the MUM FC goal to make it 3-1 Redbacks and spark some wild celebrations. The team held on to record their first league win in the NPLW era against MUM FC and also open up a 4 point gap at the top of the table. The win also maintains the unbeaten start to the season, and whilst its early days yet the signs are very encouraging that Redbacks could be one of the teams in contention for honours at the end of the season.
Post-match interview with Jay Coleman