Mooroolbark women take home game win against Malvern

Esther Park was lit up on Friday night for the senior women to take on Malvern City. Picture: ROB CAREW. 235677_23

By Peter Stephenson

Friday night at Esther Park saw Barkerettes (third) host Malvern City (seventh) in round 14 of Women’s State 3 East, seeking their first-ever win against City.

However, Ashleigh Fraraccio (missing only her fourth game in four seasons), Zahra Goodman, Kirsten Murray and Gracie Touliatos weren’t available. Junior Emily McCullough, in only her seventh senior game, was called upon to deputise in goal for the first time.

The first chance came on three minutes, when a shot from Amy D’Ortenzio almost turned into a cross for Charlotte McCullough, who nearly got on the end of it just a couple of yards out. This was a false dawn, however, as four minutes later Malvern crossed from the right to find Ellice Daskalieros in space, and she made no mistake from close range to give Malvern the lead – the first goal Barkers had conceded for over four and a half hours.

Seven minutes later, Malvern attacked from the left and found Kaneka Chheng with only the keeper to beat, but Emily was well-positioned and caught the shot. Barkers broke back upfield and a cross from the left found Lisa Walsh in space, but her shot was cleared for a corner. Walsh was looking lively and on 27 minutes collected the ball in midfield, then ran down the right wing and beat 2 players before winning a throw-in. The attack ended with a corner for Barkers. Walsh swung the ball over to find Anjali Lobo, who volleyed wide.

Barkers’ best chance came seven minutes before the break when Walsh again found space for a shot. Keeper Shanaya Ghosh couldn’t hold on and D’Ortenzio followed up, but Ghosh blocked the shot from point-blank range. Half-time: Mooroolbark 0-1 Malvern City – as in the game at Malvern, Barkers would have to come from behind.

Two minutes after the restart, Barkers won a free-kick for handball on the edge of the penalty area. Walsh simply chipped the ball over the Malvern wall beyond Ghosh into the net for a very tidy equaliser – 1-1.

With just 20 minutes left, captain Kaity Farrance, ever meticulous, remembered that she scores every 31 games – and her last goal was 31 games ago. The move was set up by Lobo, who put the ball in for D’Ortenzio. With her back to goal, she laid back for Farrance in space about 30 yards from goal. With the ball boys scrambling to the creek to field the shot, our heroine disappointed them by executing a perfect lob to beat Ghosh and give Barkers a 2-1 lead.

Malvern were stung into a quick reply and scored within a minute to level at 2-2, but the linesman had his flag up for offside. Despite protests from Malvern, the goal was disallowed, to the relief of Barkers.

Barkers had a big scare with nine minutes left when they didn’t clear the ball and it almost ricocheted in for an own goal. Finally, Walsh had a shot late on which Ghosh saved well at her near post, and Barkers had ground out a precious three points. Full-time: Mooroolbark 2-1 Malvern City.

Barkers will have come off the field more relieved than jubilant. Yes they were missing key players, but this was a scrappy game – a test of Barkers will to win. McCullough grew in confidence as the game progressed and should be applauded for her display, Walsh was too hot for Malvern to handle, but Barkers will need to improve if we are to have a chance of nicking second spot.