Box Hill United’s senior women outgunned South Melbourne 3-1 this afternoon at the Lakeside Stadium to keep their NPLW top-four hopes alive.
Although South took the initiative through Sarah Richardson, Box Hill completed a sterling Round 25 turnaround via goals from Olivia Ellis, Asuka Kakazu and Emma Langley.
Box Hill made the more energetic start to the first-half, but their backline allowed one bounce too many of the ball on four minutes, which saw Richardson cash in and nod home the opener from point-blank range.
Brian Roberts’ charges piled on the pressure immediately, with Emma Hubbard finding her goalbound effort blocked on six minutes, while Maja Markovski’s chipped attempt four minutes later was collected by South’s goalkeeper Shannon Flower.
On 13 minutes, Flower dived to her right at full stretch to deny Kakazu, while Elaina Vatcky’s volley sailed over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area moments later.
But Box Hill hauled themselves level fortuitously on 29 minutes, when Ellis’ 30-yard shot was spilled into her own net by Shannon.
The South Melbourne goalkeeper, now looking unnerved after the gaffe, somehow punched Vatcky’s corner deliveries twice in quick succession, and parried Kakazu’s 20-yard attempt in the final quarter of the first period.
Box Hill’s jet-heeled winger Vatcky could have scored before going into the break, but flicked her header off target from Hubbard’s cross despite the goal gaping.
Both sides emerged from the tunnel looking to take the game by the scruff of its neck, with the hosts testing Bethany Mason-Jones with a tame effort from Cindy Lay on 47 minutes.
But Box Hill upped the ante with fine combination play down the middle, initiated by an overlapping Natasha Dakic, yet Markovski’s snapshot swerved just wide of the upright on 55 minutes.
Vatcky’s pace was too much to handle for the South left-back on 68 minutes, who conceded a foul inside the penalty area. Although Flower successfully thwarted Markovski’s spot kick, Box Hill were handed another when the hosts’ defensive line was guilty of a handball amidst the goalmouth melee from the resulting flag-kick. This time, Japanese import Kakazu rifled the ball home to double the visitors’ tally.
South Melbourne, looking to claw their way back, saw a counter attack cleared off the line by Ellis’ awareness on 72 minutes, while Leia Varley’s low free-kick from 20 yards was well-gathered by Mason-Jones.
Langley then climbed off the bench to seal the game for Box Hill, expertly tapping home off midfielder Grace Norbury’s lay-off from the right on 91 minutes.
The win meant Box Hill have completed the NPLW double against their South Melbourne counterparts this term.
Box Hill United starting-XI: O Ellis, N Dakic, R Fensom, E Hubbard (E Langley, 73’), A Kakazu, M Lantieri-Bartley, M Markovski (H Geurts, 87’), B Mason-Jones (GK), G Norbury, C Storay, E Vatcky
Unused substitutes: M Heysen, N Griffen, M Martinez