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JR's Match of the Week
Quickfire Double Earns Suburbs The Points
by Jeremy Ruane
A quickfire double - two goals inside the first nine minutes of play - earned Eastern Suburbs a 2-1 win over Western Springs at Seddon Fields on April 15, as "The Hoops" marked their first Lotto Northern Premier Women's League home game of the campaign with a Female Football Day.

There were plenty of activities for potential Football Ferns of the next decade to take part in on the day, but a delay to the start of the curtain-raiser meant not as many as desired stuck around for the main game, which didn't get under way until 1.15pm.

"The Lilywhites" were clearly eager to make up for lost time, for they attacked from the outset and within four minutes had opened the scoring. A short corner was played to Jeongwon Shin Kor, whose shot was blocked.

The ball rebounded to Nicole Mettam, lurking some thirty yards from goal, from where she let fly with a dipping volley. The ball crashed against the bar before rebounding down, but it only crossed the line after ricocheting into the net off the back of diving Springs goalkeeper Selina Spiers - an own goal the source of Suburbs' joy.

Five minutes later, they doubled their advantage, and this time there was no doubt whatsoever who was responsible for their delight. Jade Parris has endured a nightmarish eighteen months after suffering the dreaded ACL injury in the final game of the 2016 season.

But upon receipt of the ball in the ninth minute, she engineered some space for herself before unleashing all the frustrations and doubts of the past year-and-a-half into an exquisite curling twenty-five yarder which arced unerringly into the far corner of the net - 2-0, the goalscorer's beaming smile saying far more than mere words ever could.

It took Springs a while to recover their poise following this double setback, but led by the inspirational Georgia Brown, whose overlapping runs down the right were a feature of the first half, "The Hoops" fought their way back into the contest.

Released by Lily Taitimu in the 22nd minute, Brown delivered a delicious cross to the far post which forced stand-in Suburbs' goalkeeper Charne Van der Walt - her first game twixt the sticks since she was nine - to punch the ball out. It fell invitingly for Emma Fletcher, who drilled her shot past the far post.

Back came "The Lilywhites", Parris holding the ball up well before inviting Hannah Pilley to let fly. Spiers parried her effort, then recovered to save at the feet of Parris as she homed in on the rebound.

Instantly, Springs counter-attacked, Brown brilliantly beating Nicole Mettam before sweeping past two more opponents, after which she picked out Kim Nottingham. The former Norwest United striker sent the ball wide to Springs stalwart Lily Rose Dyer, whose cross found Margot Ramsay arriving on cue to steer a shot past the post.

Only Genevieve Ryan's vital challenge prevented Pilley from pouncing on Leah Mettam's teasing cross in the 28th minute, while Kate Seatter headed over from Parris' precise cross four minutes later, as Suburbs looked to put the game to bed.

Instead, Springs got back into the contest eight minutes before half-time. Brown, inevitably, was a pivotal factor in the move, her off-the-ball run ignored initially by Fletcher but not by Laura Nottle.

Brown promptly made the accomplished figure of Rebekah Van Dort look ordinary - no mean feat - before delivering a wicked cross from the by-line which left Van der Walt flailing in response. Darting in beyond the 'keeper was Nottingham, who bundled the ball home from point-blank range to give "The Hoops" hope - 2-1.

Back came Suburbs, Nicole Mettam leading the
charge before setting up Yeongha Kim Kor in the 41st minute. Her effort was partially blocked by Cat Pretty, much to Spiers' glee.

On the stroke of half-time, Kim Kor and Nottle collided near the right-hand touchline on half-way. No whistle was forthcoming from referee Torres Chang, so Brown swiftly latched onto the loose ball and sparked an attack which culminated in the ball arriving at the feet of Dyer.

She beat Van der Walt all ends up with her shot, only for the post to come to Suburbs' rescue and preserve their one-goal advantage into the second spell, which saw Springs introduce Rebecca O'Neill to the fray from the start of the half.

At the same time, Suburbs protested to referee Chang about the coaching instructions offered throughout the first spell from behind Springs' goal by former North Shore United defensive lynchpin Nobby Stiles, father of "Hoops" defender Bianca.

Five minutes after play resumed, Springs had a strong shout for a penalty turned away by referee Chang. Brown's corner was played back to her by Pretty, inviting the former Junior Fern to take on Leah Mettam inside the area.

The right back did the left back a treat, nutmegging Mettam before darting past her, only for the defender to instinctively grab Brown's shirt and impede her momentum. Cue the penalty appeal, and Van Dort's simultaneous clearance against Brown, which saw the ball ricochet out of play for the goal-kick which the referee opted to award, rather than the penalty which should have been the outcome of this incident.

That sparked Suburbs into life, with Kate Carlton igniting a raid which featured Pilley, Shin Kor and the Mettam sisters, Leah's cross inviting Parris to unleash a volley.

Her mis-timed effort bounced past the near post, while from the resulting goal kick, Nicole Mettam stung the gloves of Spiers from twenty-five yards, as the visitors looked to re-establish the two-goal cushion their early first half efforts had earned them.

"The Lilywhites" dodged a bullet on the hour. Pretty released Fletcher down the left, from where she delivered a cross which Leah Mettam, in her attempt to clear the danger, sliced dangerously past her own post.

Soon after, Parris slumped to the ground following a challenge, clutching the same knee which she injured eighteen months ago. Thankfully, it wasn't a recurrence, but it brought a premature end to her participation in a contest which Suburbs felt needed a further goal from them to assure "The Lilywhites" of the points.

It wouldn't come, however, Spiers turning Kim Kor's low drive round the post in the 67th minute, following Pilley's fine work on the right. Six minutes later, Amber Whitley flicked on Leah Mettam's cross towards Lucy Carter, but Spiers saved at her feet as she shaped to shoot.

Springs' bid to claw back the deficit wasn't aided by a concussion suffered by Fletcher, who initially played on before referee Chang said, "Your day is done, my dear".

"The Hoops" kept pounding away, and three minutes from time had the chance to clinch a share of the spoils when awarded a free-kick on the edge of the area. Ramsay's delivery picked out Pretty, whose goalbound header was blocked then scrambled to safety by Suburbs, who held on for a hard-earned 2-1 win.

Springs:     Spiers; Brown, Stiles, Pretty, Ryan (O'Neill, 46); Fletcher (Butterworth, 80), Taitimu (Lawrence, 72), Ramsay, Nottle; Nottingham, Dyer
Suburbs:     Van der Walt; Carlton, Seatter, Van Dort, L. Mettam; Carter, Shin Kor, N. Mettam; Pilley (Wong, 76), Parris (Whitley, 65), Kim Kor
Referee:     Torres Chang

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