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Redbacks leave it late again

Report by Edward Nixon

Shawn Billam’s 91st-minute equaliser salvaged a 2-2 draw for the Northern Redbacks against Fremantle City during their Women’s Premier League Round 12 clash at Wauhop Park on Sunday.

This was the third game in a row that Redbacks have scored a crucial late goal and it extended their unbeaten run to eight games.

Trailing 2-1 heading into injury time, Redbacks skipper Billham popped up in the box to squeeze the ball home and rescue a point for the visitors.

“I’m glad we got the point at the end but I wish we did a little bit better,” Redbacks coach Elisa D’Ovidio said.

“We tend not to make it easy for ourselves. It does show the girls have some fight and character and do push till the end.”

In a game pitting the second-placed Redbacks against a City side who have won their last three games, it was the visiting Redbacks who bossed the early possession – Larissa Walsh and Calia Bennett going close within the opening 20 minutes.

Against the run of play, Fremantle hit the lead, however, as Emma Gautrey tapped home Steffi Nadilo’s inviting cross.

The Redbacks were unbeaten in seven games coming into this contest and weren’t going to back down – Bennett and Billam forcing City goalkeeper Kaylin Geelhoed into action.

There was nothing Geelhoed could do to stop Jessica Wheatman from equalising just five minutes before the break, however, as the English midfielder’s shot hit the underside of the bar before bouncing over the line.

Buoyed by their goal before half-time, the Redbacks started brightly in the second term and should have been ahead nine minutes after the restart as Walsh missed an open goal following some clever build-up play from Sarah Carroll.

Fremantle would make Walsh and the Redbacks rue that miss as they regained their lead just two minutes later – Courtney Owen finding the back of the net with a long-range effort.

From then on in, it was all Redbacks as they went out in search of an equaliser – Walsh’s tough day in front of goal continuing with the striker missing a gilt-edge one on one before fullback Amy Knights hit the post.

With time running out, the Redbacks piled bodies forward and got their just reward in the first minute of added time as Billam found some space in a crowded box to steer home and clinch a point for her side.

Fremantle coach Thomas Richard said he was disappointed to give up the late goal.

“It’s always good to try and scrap a result away, but some things didn’t go our way – it’s football I guess,” he said.

Fremantle City 2 (Gautrey 23min, Owen 56)
Northern Redbacks 2 (Wheatman 40, Billam 90+1)
Wauhop Park
Sunday, July 15
Kick-off: 1pm
Referee: John Westmerland  

Fremantle City: 1. Kaylin GEELHOED, 4. Courtney OWEN, 9. Chelsea JOHNSTONE (Karissa LEAR 34), 15. Issy BRIDGER, 18. Sarah KENNY, 24. Emma GAUTREY, 26. Laura WALTMAN (29. Alex FOSTER 80), 27. Mikayla LYONS, 30. Steph SIMMONDS (37. Nyana JAYME 70), 35. Steffi NADILO, 36. Evie MARCHETTI
Substitutes not used: 42. Peggy WOTHERSPOON 48. Sammi CARBON
Yellow cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Northern Redbacks: 1. Renee LEOTA, 2. Sarah CARROLL, 3. Larissa WALSH, 4. Jessica WHEATMAN, 5. Amy KNIGHTS, 6. Carla BENNETT, 7. Kim CARROLL, 8. Shawn BILLAM, 10. Katie MOTH (16. Emily ROACH 74), 11. Emily HENDERSON (12. Casey WEBB 58), 15. Emily DUNN
Yellow cards: Carroll 70
Red Cards: Nil