Box Hill United’s senior women served up a comprehensive performance to register an ebullient 2-0 victory against Heidelberg United in the NPLW Rd 26.
Although Asuka Kakazu missed a penalty and goalkeeper Bethany Mason-Jones bravely soldiered on for 90 minutes following a first-half ankle injury, Box Hill pocketed full points via goals from Olivia Ellis and substitute Emma Langley.
This afternoon’s win at Wembley Park propelled our ladies to three wins from three against Heidelberg in the 2019 regular season, having won the two reverse fixtures at the Olympic Village 1-0 (Rd 8) and 2-1 (Rd 17).
The hosts were the brighter outfit off the mark, as striker Maja Markovski tested opposition goalkeeper Christine Fonua from 20 yards. At the other end, Melissa Garcia drew a fine save from Mason-Jones on seven minutes.
However, the Box Hill shot-stopper landed on her ankle and the injury resulted in a substantial stoppage of play as Mason-Jones received treatment.
A compressed Box Hill midfield stifled the Heidelberg engine room, who found it difficult to grab a foothold over proceedings, which allowed the home side to pile bodies down the flanks.
Box Hill left-back Ellis then opened the scoring on 28 minutes – finding the target from 25 yards over Fonua – after Markovski had dispossessed a defender to tee up her colleague.
The home side almost grabbed a second on 32 minutes, but Emma Hubbard’s glanced header from inside the six-yard box off Kakazu’s corner evaded the left-bottom corner by inches.
For Heidelberg, Garcia’s header crashed off the upright inside a congested Box Hill 18-yard box, after Bill Mihaloudis’ side had forced a 46th-minute corner.
The game sprung to life after the recess though, as both sides traded attempts in quick succession. While Box Hill earned two corners on the trot, Fonua was alert enough to punch the danger away; and Sidney Allen’s free-kick for Heidelberg was repelled by the goalframe on 51 minutes.
Two minutes after, Box Hill were awarded the penalty as a Heidelberg defender had handled Kakazu’s first-time shot off Hayley Geurts’ floater. But the Japanese playmaker drilled the spot-kick straight at Fonua.
The visitors then ran into a roadblock in the form of Mason-Jones on 61 minutes, who cleanly grasped a point-blank effort after a Heidelberg flag-kick.
But Box Hill were out of reach on 72 minutes, when former the Heidelberg forward pairing of Markovski and Langley combined to find the net. Markovski skipped her marker with trademark persistence down the right to set up an unmarked Langley inside the opposition box, who calmly slotted home at the far corner and wheeled off to celebrate with the Box Hill bench.
The final quarter saw the visitors pose a strong test for the Box Hill backline, who remained collectively robust to thwart a corner on 82 minutes.
A minute later, Allen saw another of her long-range direct free-kicks brush the upright. While following a late foray upfield, Garcia curled an attempt straight at the woodwork from 18 yards.
However, Box Hill had the last laugh in the encounter, as they picked up a massive win before welcoming Southern United in the final game of the season.
Box Hill United starting-XI: N Dakic ©, O Ellis, R Fensom, E Hubbard (E Langley, 63’), A Kakazu, M Lantieri-Bartley (M Heysen, 89’), M Markovski (L Pickett, 84’), B Mason-Jones (GK), G Norbury (N Griffen, 84’), C Storay, E Vatcky (H Geurts, 52’)