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Redbacks Bounce Back To Stay Top

Emily Dunn and Jacinta Coleman

Goals from W-league star Sarah Carroll and 200 club member Larissa Walsh were enough to earn Redbacks the three points in a tight and absorbing contest against Perth SC in the Round 9 NPLW clash at Macedonia Park on Friday night.

Going into the game, both teams were keen to bounce back after suffering defeats in Round 8 and it was the visitors who dominated the early proceedings.

Pinning the home team back in their own penalty area, they struck first in the 6th minute when a corner was not dealt with by the Redbacks defence and the ball fell to Gemma Craine who lashed it home to put the Azurri 1-0 up.

At this point, Redbacks were struggling to cope with the away teams high press and the front three were feeding off scraps as the midfield were not able to win clean possession due to Perth swarming around players on the ball and putting them under huge pressure.

It wasn't until the 24th minute that the home team were able to mount any serious threat on the Perth goal. Shawn Billam forced a turnover in the Perth half and the ball found its way to Walsh, she fed Georgia Cawley who struck a first time left foot shot that at first seemed to be heading out, but it dipped at the last minute to hit the bar. The rebound then fell to Jayna Ridley inside the box and her instinctive side-foot volley was superbly saved by Becky Bennett in the Perth goal.

Perth continued to enjoy more possession, but in the 34th minute, the Redbacks struck back with a great equaliser from Sarah Carroll. Grace Monteiro won an important challenge just inside the Redbacks half and fed Ridley in the Perth half. The teenager then hit a delightful first time through ball that eluded the Perth centre backs and freed Carroll up. She strode into the penalty area before hitting a right-foot shot across Bennett to make it 1-1.

Perth then had a great opportunity to regain the lead when a neat passing move between Abbey Meakins and Jamie Duncanson put Duncanso free down the right-wing. Her pull back into the box found an unmarked Liana Cook, but Maya Deidrichsen pulled off a great low save low to deny the Perth striker.

The second half saw Perth dominate possession again, but they were kept at arms length and restricted to half chances.

In the 61st minute, they were reminded of the dangers of Redbacks' threat on the counterattack when Andreia Teixeira released Walsh after a Perth corner was cleared to her. Walsh used her pace to outstrip the Perth defence before firing a shot just past Bennett's far post.

The game now entered a tense phase, as both sides know that one more goal may be enough to take the points, and in the 73rd minute, Perth almost broke the deadlock. Zoe Spadano made a great run from midfield and passed to Cook on the edge of the box. The midfielder continued her run to receive the ball back, and only resolute defending from Kim Carroll prevented her from scoring. The danger wasn't over though, as the ball broke free to the waiting Abbey Meakins on the other side of the box, but her shot flashed just wide of the Redbacks goal much to the home fans' relief.

The winner arrived in the 78th minute when Walsh went on a solo run after the ball had been picked up by the Redbacks deep in their half. She skipped past 2 defenders in her own half to burst into space with just one defender between her and the Perth goal. A despairing lunge by the defender failed to halt Walsh and she accelerated into the Perth half and ran menacingly towards Bennett. The keeper tried to narrow the angle, but Walsh showed great composure to slide a left-foot shot into the net to make the score 2-1.

That was the end of the scoring and when the referee blew his whistle at the end of the game there was much jubilation from the home side and its supporters as they recognised just how important the win was.

Sarah Carroll reflects on the game.

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