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NTC out to have final word against Redbacks

Report by Peter Simcox

Football West NTC Women will hope to go one better than last year when they face Northern Redbacks in the final of the Women’s Premier League Night Series at Coker Park on Friday night at 7pm.

NTC lost on penalties to Queens Park in the decider 12 months ago and coach Jessine Bonzas praised her players for giving themselves another shot at glory.

“Yes, two years in a row to make the Night Series Final and I’m very proud of the team for qualifying,” Bonzas said.

“Whatever happens from here on is a bonus – the team gets another quality game against a quality outfit, which all contributes to these young players’ development.”

NTC booked their place in the final with a big win against Beckenham Angels, while the Redbacks edged out holders Queens Park 1-0 in the other.

New Redbacks coach Elisa D’Ovidio was delighted with their semi-final success over the 2017 winners.

“It was a very tight game against Queens Park and to be honest there were moments in the game where it could have gone either way,” D’Ovidio said.

“They have some really quick, skilful players and have always been a tough side to play against, but I’m really pleased with how our girls performed. We defended really well and every player did their job.

“Chloe Alaga is one of the younger players in the squad and has earned some game time throughout the night series. She is an eager player and always willing to learn and it was great to see her score the goal to get us through.”

D’Ovidio said the Redbacks players also deserved credit for the way they have helped her settle into the coach’s position.

“I knew it would be a challenge stepping into this coaching role, especially with some of the girls being my close mates outside of football,” she said.

“There is mutual respect between us and I have enjoyed every minute of it so far. I’m working with some great, experienced players which definitely makes my job a lot easier.”

In their Group B meeting in the competition the Redbacks ran out 3-0 winners, but D’Ovidio insisted too much couldn’t be read into that game.

“NTC are another tough team and always cause us hassle. They are a well-structured and disciplined side with some young, quality players coming through,” she said.

“I think our first half against them in the third round wasn’t good enough and as much as we improved in the second half, we definitely can’t afford to do that against them this week in the final.

“Anything can happen on finals day and I think it is going to be a great match to watch regardless.”

NTC coach Bonzas said their semi-final win against Beckenham was especially satisfying following a defeat in the final game of the group stage.

“I was really pleased how the girls responded from the game the week before,” Bonzas said.

“We worked really hard tactically throughout the week and the coaching staff could definitely see improvements in a number of key areas against Beckenham.

“It was a great team effort and performance, with goals from Annabelle Leek, Lexie Moreno, Abbey Meakins and then our youngest player Bella Wallhead … and also our centre-back scored from a corner.”

The opposing coaches in Friday’s final are good friends and Bonzas didn’t try to talk any rivalry.

“Vids (Elisa D’Ovidio) and I have coached together for many years. I wish her and her team the best of luck for the game. I’m sure it will be a great test for us,” she said.

Fixture Details
Friday, March 23
Coker Park, Cannington

NTC Women v Northern Redbacks (7pm)
Thailand v Queens Park (5pm)