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McKenna strikes as NTC beat Redbacks

Report by Edward Nixon

NTC Women maintained their perfect start to the season with a 2-1 victory over a 10-woman Northern Redbacks in Round Three of the Women’s Premier League at Celebration Park on Sunday.

The result was NTC’s second win against the Redbacks in just over four weeks, after also prevailing in the Night Series Final last month.

“We’re really pleased the girls backed up our Night Series win to prove a point that they can play some good football,” NTC coach Jessine Bonzas said.

NTC remain top of the ladder, while the Redbacks suffered their first loss of the campaign.

“It’s been a nice start but we’re more interested in the football they’re playing and their development,” Bonzas said.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for NTC, though.

With the game just six minutes old, Redbacks winger Larissa Walsh was pulled down in the box to give her side the perfect opportunity to take the lead. However, Shawn Billam dragged the penalty wide of the post.

The Redbacks continued to look dangerous and hit the front when Carla Bennett’s bullet header from Amy Knights’ corner found the back of the net.

The goal came just before the half-hour mark and was the 15th time the Redbacks had scored in the opening three games.

But NTC hit back straight away – Eden-Lee Schaffer found space down the right flank before finding Abbey Green at the back post and she slotted home with a nice first-time finish.

That same combination almost worked wonders again moments later as Schaffer spotted an unmarked Green but NTC goalkeeper Morgan Aquino was up to the challenge to keep the game at 1-1 heading into the half-time break.

In the act of taking the shot, Green collided heavily with Aquino and Billam and was withdrawn from the action with a leg injury, while Billam was shown a straight red card.

In the second half, NTC almost got off to the perfect start but Annabelle Leek’s header crashed against the woodwork.

The visitors continued their pressure and looked dangerous going forward, with Leticia McKenna causing problems for the Redbacks defence.

And McKenna got her reward just past the hour when she latched on to a long ball before rounding Redbacks keeper Kathleen Wakott to finish into an empty net.

The game soon became 10 v 10 as NTC picked up an injury having already made all of their substitutions.

With time running out, the Redbacks had the final chance of the game but Renee Leota’s effort came off the bar in a desperate goalline scramble.

“Maybe it just wasn’t our day today,” Redbacks coach Elisa D’Ovidio said.

The Redbacks travel to Balcatta FC in Round Four, while NTC welcome the reigning champions Queens Park SC.

Northern Redbacks 1 (Bennett 28min)
NTC Women 2 (Green 37, McKenna 61)
Celebration Park
Sunday, April 22
Kick-off: 1pm
Referee: John Westerlund

Northern Redbacks: 1. Kathleen WAKOTT, 2. Ellie BLACKMORE, 3. Larissa WALSH (12. Casey WEBB), 5. Amy KNIGHTS, 6. Carla BENNETT, 8. Shawn BILLAM, 10. Katie MOTH, 11. Emily HENDERSON, 14. Renee LEOTA, 15. Emily DUNN, 17. Lauren RILEY (9. Chloe ALAGA)
Substitutes not used: 13. Grace MONTEIRO, 16. Sophia NEAL
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Billam (43)

NTC Women: 1. Morgan AQUINO, 2. Ashline DEVITT (22. Elizabeth DOUST), 5. Rosei LEHANE, 8. Abbey MEAKINS, 9. Annabelle LEEK, 10. Lexie MORENO, 11. Abbey Green (7. Liana COOK 43), 12. Leticia MCKENNA, 15. Zoee SPADANO, 18. Eden-Lee SCHAFFER (6. Georgie IRELAND), 21. Georgia CAWLEY
Substitutes not used: 20. Ella HOY, 24. Hana LOWRY
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil