There was a change in leader for the first time on several months, and also a change at the bottom, a change that ultimately have condemned one team to relegation. Elsewhere, Casey and South firmed as finals contenders.
Heidelberg United took over custody of the top spot on the ladder with a thrilling last-gasp 2-1 victory over Box Hill Inter at Olympic Village. The home side took a one goal lead into half time after Melanie Camilleri opened the scoring in the 20th minute, but Box Hill equalised five minutes after the break through Morgan Anderson. Inter then had the chance to claim all three points when it was awarded a penalty with mere minutes remaining, but it was denied by United custodian Kate Neville. Shortly after, with the game entering stoppage time, Camilleri was again on target to secure the win for Heidelberg, and inflict Inter’s second successive defeat. The result lifts Heidelberg to the top of the table, a point clear of Box Hill.
Casey Comets overcame Sandringham 1-0 in a tense match between two finals’ contenders. Sandringham had already claimed one top four scalp this week, having defeated Heidelberg United 2-1 on Monday night, but it was denied in its second in the cruellest fashion, losing to a second half own goal. Casey maintained third position on the ladder, level on points with fourth placed South Melbourne, and now just two behind Box Hill. It will now need to recover quickly, as it faces a Wednesday night road trip to play its catch-up match away at Bendigo Vipers. While, on paper, not a match that would be expected to be troublesome, success may well depend on whether Casey can produce its full strength team for such a lengthy mid-week journey. Sandringham remains sixth on the ladder, level on points with Ashburton.
South Melbourne bounced back from its defeat at Ashburton to trounce Preston Lions 6-1 at Albert Park. Melinda Aloisio and Marcela Marques gave the home side a 2-0 half time advantage, before South turned on the style in the second half to score a further four goals. Laura Spiranovic scored twice, with Aloisio adding another two to complete her hat-trick. Zaklina Apostolovska scored a consolation effort for Preston. The victory, South’s seventh of the season, keeps in fourth on the ladder but still level pegging with third placed Casey. Preston remains in seventh spot and, baring major upsets, seems set to finish the season there.
Bendigo Vipers and GRFA played out a crucial match at Quay Reserve, with the result extremely likely to determine which team will ultimately be relegated at the end of the season. Bendigo emerged triumphant in a classic battle, in which the lead changed hands three times. Bendigo opened the scoring midway through the first half, before the home side equalised eight minutes before the break. GRFA then took the lead ten minutes after the interval, but, fifteen minutes from time, Bendigo scored two goals in as many minutes to turn the game on its head. Paige Condor scored twice, and Sarah Richardson once for the visiting team, while Angela Nicolovski and Anne Salte were on target for GRFA. The victory, Bendigo’s first for the year, lifts it over GRFA and off the foot of the ladder. It now has five points to GRFA’s three, and both teams face difficult opposition for the remainder of the season. GRFA will need to find something extremely special in its four remaining matches if it is to avoid an immediate return to State League One.
Round 14 of the WPL kicks off at Comets Stadium next Sunday, with Casey Comets looking to continue its strong run to the final when it takes on GRFA, while at Albert Park, South Melbourne will be aiming to keep up the pressure on Casey, when it hosts Bendigo Vipers. Ashburton and Heidelberg meet at Ashburton Park in a must win game for the home side if it is to have a realistic chance of making the finals. The round wraps up on Monday night at Kingston Heath Soccer Complex, when Sandringham will be looking for another big scalp when it takes on Box Hill Inter. Preston Lions has the bye.