Barkerettes fall to local rivals

The Barkerettes fought hard against former premier side Monbulk. Picture: ON FILE.

By Peter Stephenson

After accounting for Williamstown in the first round of the Nike FC Cup, a stiffer test faced Barkerettes in round 2 as they travelled to State 1 side Monbulk.

On a mild evening at Monbulk, the hosts took the lead on the half hour when Zarli Vandenberg seized on a defensive lapse. This followed a period of Monbulk pressure, although Barkers had created some clear chances. Keeper Ashleigh Fraraccio, was the busiest player on the park, but was playing especially well. Half-time: Monbulk Rangers 1-0 Mooroolbark.

The second half began with the hosts continuing in control. Six minutes in, they put a free kick well over. From the goal kick, Barkers lost the ball and Nikki McRae scored a simple goal to make it 2-0.

Barkers’ heads didn’t drop, though. From the restart, Simone Otto found Emily Stokes on the right. Her shot was held by former Barker keeper Zoe Caldwell. Then Caldwell lost the ball under pressure, leaving Rebecca Brown with an open goal, but her shot rolled agonisingly past the far post. Then Monbulk attacked down the right and crossed, but the ensuing shot was brilliantly tipped over by Fraraccio. The corner from the left was then well claimed by the keeper.

Just after the hour, Stokes latched on to a through ball, and with only Caldwell to beat, lobbed just over the bar. Then Stokes was through again, but this time Caldwell claimed. On 71 minutes Anita Caro Salve sprayed a superb ball out to Stokes. As she ran on she was pushed, but the ref waved play on.

By now, Zahra Goodman had been subbed on and went on a threatening run down the left. However, Monbulk went back upfield and conjured a goal from nothing as Dominique Racz scored a long shot to make it 3-0. Frustratingly, this was just at the point where Barkers had been threatening to get back into the game.

With 10 minutes left, Barkers had a throw on the right, from which Stokes turned and forced Caldwell to save at her near post. Then a Monbulk forward seized on a loose ball, but Fraraccio raced out to clear. The next attack for Monbulk, though, saw Vandenberg win the ball and hit a ripper shot into the net for 4-0.

With two minutes left Barkers almost got a consolation. Caro Salve rode a tackle then slipped the ball through to Stokes. She was already past Caldwell as she shot, but a retreating defender managed to clear a shot that would otherwise have gone in. The final word went to Barkers, with a Caro Salve corner met by a glancing header from Kelly Butera which went just wide.

This was the expected result given they were facing a side that had just come down from Premier League. However, there were promising signs from Barkers that they would cause trouble for State 3 sides, and Fraraccio did a great job in goal on a very busy evening. Barkerettes now focus on preparing for their league campaign in State 3E, which begins in mid-April.