With just a couple of weeks remaining in the NPL Victoria calendar, the 2023 season is reaching its crescendo with Western United and Calder United in the thick of the action.
Western United’s Under 21’s and Calder United’s senior’s took on FC Bulleen Lions in Preliminary Finals while Calder’s Under 19’s met South Melbourne for a spot in their grand final and the junior teams each continued their campaigns.
Western United NPL 2 Men’s Under 21’s
Western United 7-1 FC Bulleen Lions
Goal scorers: C.Dovison (12’), A.Iedom (15’, 24’, 71’), A.Hird (41’), O.Tanic (90+3), M.Pollara (90+5)
After losing to Bulleen in both regular season meetings, Western United was fired up and ready to make amends in the semi-final on Sunday.
Vaughan Coveny’s side did not hesitate, immediately taking the game to the visitors and capturing the lead after just 12 minutes when Campbell Dovison finished one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
Ahmed Iedom then scored two almost identical goals within 10 minutes of each other as Dovison turned provider, squaring the ball to the back post for Iedom to tap in.
United’s electric start had the team firmly in the driving seat and although Bulleen threatened a comeback with a goal just before the half hour, Alex Hird’s header just before half-time ensured the three-goal lead was intact heading into the break.
There was plenty of fire in the contest but United brought the cooler heads in the decisive moments, tying a bow on a perfect evening with another three goals in the final 20 minutes.
Iedom notched up his hat-trick when his inswinging corner went all the way into the net and Oscar Tanic scored a stunner for the sixth, evading a defender with a fake shot before delicately chipping the goalkeeper.
United never let up and Max Pollara found the seventh on the final whistle with a low drive from outside the box, putting the cherry on top of an outstanding win.
The Green and Black will now move into the grand final on Saturday afternoon, where it will take on Melbourne City at The Home of the Matildas at 12pm.
Western United Junior Academy teams
It was nearly a perfect weekend for Western United’s teams with three wins and one defeat across the four Junior Academy matches.
The Under 14’s kicked things off with a 1-0 win over Dandenong City thanks to John Woldegiorgis’ first-half strike.
A nine-goal thriller saw the Under 15’s come from 3-1 down to claim a 6-3 victory over Bentleigh Greens owing to a hat-trick from Matthew Di Lorenzo.
It was defeat for the Under 16’s against Dandenong City but the Under 18’s ended the day on a high with an impressive win over Bentleigh. After going down 1-0 and going down to 10 men, United came out 3-2 winners after Santiago Yanez’s 87th-minute penalty.
With two rounds remaining, the Under 14’s and Under 18’s and sit in third place on the table, the Under 15’s are fourth and the Under 16’s are in seventh.
Western United Junior Academy scores
Dandenong City 0-1 Western United
Goal scorer: J.Woldegiorgis (29’)
Bentleigh Greens 3-6 Western United
Goal scorers: M.Di Lorenzo (8’, 22’, 66’), J.Vonja (27’), N.Grieve (28’, 46’)
Dandenong City 4-1 Western United
Goal scorer: S.Maden Limbu (17’)
Bentleigh Greens 2-3 Western United
Goal scorers: A.Omer (35’), H.Lumu (78’), S.Yanez (p.87’)
Calder United NPLW Senior’s
Calder United 1-2 FC Bulleen Lions
Goal scorer: K.Hieda (4’)
Calder United was out to continue its stellar run against Bulleen in finals matches in the NPLW Victoria Preliminary Final on Saturday.
It had that all familiar feeling when Calder snatched an early lead as Keiwa Hieda turned and finished brilliantly in the box, with Bulleen left frustrated as Julia Sardo appeared to handle the ball in the build-up.
Calder was well on top throughout the first 45 minutes but couldn’t add to the scoreboard before half-time as the hosts remained in the game.
Bulleen began to grow into the game and slowly began to take the ascendancy, ultimately leading to an equaliser with 20 minutes to play.
Western United star Tyla Jay Vlajnic had a big hand in the goal as she won a header at the back post from Alana Jancevski’s corner, knocking it back across goal for Katie Beck to finish from close range.
Hieda was inches away from scoring hers and Calder’s second just 10 minutes later but a brilliant save from Gabby Garton denied her, the Bulleen keeper leaving an outstretched leg to stop the ball from nestling in the bottom corner before Bulleen’s defence cleared the remaining danger.
Extra-time followed and despite Bella Sewards striking the crossbar, Bulleen found the game’s elusive third goal as Claudia Mihocic headed into the net from a deep free-kick.
Calder still had the second half of extra time to find a goal but Bulleen’s defence remained resolute, seeing out a late corner and securing the win.
The result brings an end to another superb season for Calder United. After a difficult start to the season, Calder put together a magnificent run to reach the finals and lift another NIKE F.C. Cup title, with a number of star players now poised to join pre-season training for Western United ahead of the Liberty A-League Women season.
Calder United Under 19’s
South Melbourne 1-0 Calder United
After an excellent battle to reach the finals series, Calder United’s Under 19’s travelled to South Melbourne for an away Preliminary Final in a bid for a spot in the season finale.
After a tight first half, South Melbourne stole the lead just before the break to give Calder a job to do in the second period.
Despite all the efforts of Andy Burnett’s side, South Melbourne’s low block repelled each Calder advance to ensured the hosts held onto the win.
After two consecutive finals appearances, Calder’s Under 19’s will look to regroup and be back amongst the top teams in the competition next season.
Calder United junior girls
Calder United’s three junior teams had an even split across their three fixtures with a win, a draw and a loss in the final regular season round against Heidelberg United.
The Under 17’s were the ones that needed a win to make finals and they made good on their objective, with their 2-0 victory and South Melbourne’s defeat to NTC U15 seeing Calder into the finals.
The Under 13’s and Under 15’s sides had already wrapped up finals places as Calder United gears up for a big finish to the junior season.
Calder United junior girls scores
Heidelberg United 1-0 Calder United
Heidelberg United 0-0 Calder United
Heidelberg United 0-2 Calder United
Goal scorers: T.Kul (34’), B.Florey (59’)