Stirling Panthers produced a stunning second-half comeback to defeat UWA-Nedlands 3-2 for their first win of the Women’s Premier League season on Sunday.
Goals from Alex Lyons and Jaime Blake had given UWA a 2-0 lead at half-time, before Stirling turned the contest on its head with two quick goals from Lara Ameduri and Brooke Johnston.
And the recovery was completed in the final minute through Eloise Arnold’s penalty.
The win was not only Stirling’s first of the season but these were their first goals of 2018.
“It shows the true character of the team,” Panthers coach Frank di Costa said.
“The girls are starting to understand the pace of the game and the Premier League.”
In the bottom of the table clash between the league’s only winless teams, Stirling started the brighter and should have taken the lead through Arnold, but the midfielder dragged her effort wide.
Against the run of play, UWA went ahead when Lyons’ long-range effort caught Stirling keeper Megan Binacoski off her line for the opening goal.
The hosts then doubled their advantage on the half-hour mark as Blake’s curling effort found the far corner after Stirling’s failed attempt to play out from the back.
Moments later Blake almost grabbed her second when her thunderous strike crashed against the post.
A great save from Binacoski on the stroke of half-time kept the gap at just the two goals at half-time.
The Panthers came out with a point to prove in the second half and found a way back into the contest 11 minutes after the restart through Ameduri’s first-time finish.
That gave the visitors the impetus to go in search of an equaliser and they soon found themselves level when Johnston earned a penalty. The striker stepped up and despite her spot-kick being saved, she managed to bundle in the rebound to make it 2-2.
After failing to score in 506 minutes of play this season, Stirling suddenly had two goals in three minutes.
And with time running out, Blake’s clumsy challenge in the box presented Stirling with the perfect chance to win the game.
Up stepped Arnold who dispatched the spot-kick to earn her side’s first points of the season.
“We lost focus and we got punished for it,” UWA coach Tony Carvajal said.
“All credit to them (Stirling), they could easily have put their head down, but they worked really hard and got themselves in the right spots and took their chances.”
UWA-Nedlands 2 (Lyons 19min, Blake 30)
Stirling Panthers 3 (Ameduri 56, Johnston 59, Arnold 90)
UWA Sports Park
Sunday, May 13
Referee: John Westerlund
UWA-Nedlands: 1. Kelsey LANE, 2. Leanne CRAWLE, 5. Jaime BLAKE, 6. Jessica PILLEVA (3. Sarah MOSELY), 7. Jordana MUSCURA, 8. Leah CRABB, 9. Siobhan CONNOLLY, 13. Zoe TESTONI, 15. Alex LYONS (17. Ayssa VAN HEURCK 56), 18. Roik RIDLIE (11. Monique SAUNDERS), 19. Cass GREENWELL
Substitutes not used: 4. Sina GRUELE, 10. Sarah CAMPION
Yellow cards: Crabb, Ridlie, Blake
Red cards: Nil
Stirling Panthers: 1. Megan BINACOSKI, 2. Lara AMEDURI, 4. Emily HARRISON. 5. Tegan MCNEILL, 7. Monique NICOLAOU (6. Jodie DAVENPORT 81), 8. Alyssa CONTINIBALI, 9. Brooke JOHNSTON, 10. Lauren CONTINIBALI, 11. Caitlin VALLELONGA (14. Libby TATTERSALL 86), 12. Eloise ARNOLD, 15. Danielle MONASTRA
Substitutes not used: 10. Katherine MELENKO
Yellow cards: Nicolaou
Red cards: Nil