The Ballarat Eureka Strikers returned to winning ways in an emphatic manner; defeating Eltham North Redbacks 6-2. From the outset the Eureka Strikers played with intent and netted three goals in the opening 20 minutes; with Lulu Al-Huneidi scoring twice and Tessa Curtain scoring once.
The Eureka Strikers then netted another three in the second half; with Al-Huneidi and Curtain scoring again and Alyson Pym celebrating her 50th appearance for the club with a goal of her own.
While the score line was definitive, the manner in which the Eureka Strikers was more important. They appeared to have shaken off the nerves that had hampered them in the past three fixtures and were back to playing an aggressive style of football. The pressure around the ball meant that the Redbacks had little possession for long stretches of the game; with the purpose with which the Eureka Strikers attacked allowed them to exploit space and dominate control of the game.
It was also a much more complete performance; with most players executing their roles consistently throughout the game. The improved structure allowed the team to be more proactive throughout the game and was instrumental in suffocating the Redbacks throughout.
In particular, the younger players stood up this week. Kate Lyons had by far her best game in goals, she managed the space confidently and that allowed the defenders to push up the field and win the ball in more threatening areas. Lisie Dodds provided attacking runs in the left midfield in the first half, and after she was withdrawn due to injury, Vanessa Yung picked up where Dodds left off. Tess Meaden continued to grow into her new role at left back; she dominated in the air and provided attack on the ball throughout. While the combination of Lily McLean, Erin Plucke and Claire Demuth offered similar endeavour on the right hand side of the park.
The nature of the performance allowed for Nat Barbara to be withdrawn early with hamstring tightness; while both Curtain and Holly Williamson were rested for the final thirty minutes of the game.
Coach, Laura Brady, commented that ‘this performance has set our benchmark for the rest of the season. It was proof of what we are capable of and it should provide the squad with confidence moving forward. As the group discussed after the game, it has also established the standard for expectations moving forward.’
In further good news for the club, new recruit Keryn Walters scored a hat-trick in her debut in the development squad this weekend. Walters was the FFV State League 1 Best and Fairest and Golden Boot winner in 2014, the club will look to build Walters match fitness over the next few weeks but believe that she will provide experience and an attacking spark in the second half of the season.