Article by Staff Writers courtesy of the Corner Flag
Photos are in the Gallery - Ashburton v Heidelberg 16 May 2015
A Brittany Thomas double helped Ashburton United defeat Heidelberg United 2-0 at Ashburton Park on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
The attacker was given a rare start in midfield, and took her chance to shine well, slotting her first past Heidelberg ‘keeper Kelsey Quinn, and heading in her second just before the break.
It was a comfortable win in the end for Ashburton, who cruised to their fifth win of the season.
The beginning of the contest was closely fought, and Heidelberg tested the goal of Melissa Maizels with a strike by Elise Mamanu-Gray following a ball through from Christy Zwolski, but the effort was well saved by the Ashburton custodian.
Up until Thomas notched her first of the afternoon, neither side looked like scoring, as they both failed to keep possession of the ball when it got into the final third.
A burst out of defence from Checker delivered the first moment of quality for the contest, as the Young Matilda played Thomas in behind with a well-weighted through ball.
Thomas composed herself and slotted it into the bottom right corner.
Ashburton didn’t rest on their laurels and sought out another quick strike, but Melina Ayres couldn’t bury her chance from a cross inside the box, and the opportunity went begging.
As the half hour ticked by, Heidelberg were struggling for flow, and a speculative attempt from Verzi which Maizels saved turned out to be its last shot in anger for the half.
Laura Spiranovic almost got the second for the hosts, in the 35th minute, but she couldn’t make the most of the opportunity, which came about after a clearance had hit the forward in the back.
The game got its second moment of brilliance a minute later, when Checker made another marauding run forward, and sent in a sumptuous cross which was nodded into the back of the net with aplomb by Thomas, with Quinn left motionless.
Heidelberg regrouped at the break at came back out with renewed intent, and Aneta Komijat went close with a header three minutes into the second half.
Zwolski then had an opportunity of her own five minutes later, but Maizels only had a simple save to make.
But the action dried up as Ashburton looked to kill the contest.
The home side did have chances for a third just past the hour, when Spiranovic spurned a free header opportunity and Ayres had a shot saved.
It wasn’t proving to be Spiranovic’s day, and she thought her luck had turned when she tapped in after Checker’s flick on from a free kick, but the striker was adjudged to be offside.
Heidelberg strived hard to claw their way back into the contest, even throwing Laura Phillips up front.
But the visitors didn’t get a consolation, and Phillips’ effort in stoppage time only hit the side netting, much to their frustration.
Ashburton United 2 (Thomas 21′, 36′) defeated Heidelberg United 0 at Ashburton Park [HT 2:0]
Ashburton United: 1. Melissa Maizels (GK), 2. Maria Patrikis (26. Bridie Kean 84′), 5. Kristin Stensholt, 15. Emma Checker, 3. Holly Richardson, 14. Christine Pfeiffer, 11. Fede Frew (16. Rachel Jarvis 87′), 4. Brittany Thomas (20. Alyssia Blewonski 79′), 9. Melina Ayres (19. Olivia Edwards 76′), 18. Georgia Cloepfil, 21. Laura Spiranovic (6. Rebecca Saber 86′)
Heidelberg United: 1. Kelsey Quinn (GK), 2. Demi Mihaloudis (16. Stephanie Galjar 36′), 4. Michelle Verzi, 6. Laura Phillips, 8. Emma Gunn (5. Elly Torre 61′), 10. Julia Nicolaci, 11. Aneta Komijat (9. Belinda Pannella 65′), 13. Adelyn Ayton (22. Ellie Gavalas 61′), 15. Lisa Fonua, 19. Christy Zwolski, 45. Elise Mamanu-Gray (7. Marguerite Eudes 70′)
They trailed at the break to a Dani Jackson goal, before strikes from Laura Spiranovic and a double from Georgia Cloepfil scuppered any chance of a potential shock loss.
Caulfield were looking to redeem themselves after a forgetable 9-0 defeat to FC Bulleen Lions in Round 6, and after holding off some initial pressure from Ashburton, the Cobras did exactly that.
Emma Checker is one of the most talented women soccer players in Australia and has a wealth of playing experience behind her, but this belies the fact that she has just only turned 19. At the time of writing she is off on tour to Vietnam with the Australian U20 Young Matildas taking time out from her duties with Ashburton United in the Victorian Sportsmart Women’s Premier League (WPL).
Emma came onto the soccer scene with much fanfare when she was just 14. She was deemed good enough to play for Adelaide United in the W-League, but a ruling declared she was too young to participate before becoming a squad member in 2011 after she had turned 15. Checker made her senior debut for Adelaide United on the opening day of the 2011–12 W-League season, aged 15. She went on to make six further appearances for the club that season, and played in Adelaide's first W-League victory in 34 matches; Checker was one of eight players retained by Adelaide United for the 2012–13 season, and went on to make eleven appearances that season. On 31 May 2013, she became the first female in nearly 20 years to play in an under-18s match with men, when she represented West Torrens Birkalla against White City.
The Ashburton United community wishes star Women's Premier League central defender Emma Checker the best of luck on her forthcoming tour of Vietnam with the Young Matilda's U20 side. Emma will miss the match against the Caulfield United Cobras, but will return for round 8 in the Sportsmart Women's Premier League.
Melina Ayres bagged four for herself, Georgia Cloepfil scored a brace, and Laura Spiranovic and Jesse Kotsikas both added singles in a rout for the visitors.
Joey Cartwright did manage a consolation goal for the development side, but they were simply unable to respond to Ashburton’s pressure when it mattered.
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