There was injury, there was unavailability and there was an opponent stacked with W-League talent. Yet Manly United women’s NSW National Premier League side triumphed 2-1 over Sydney University at Cromer Park on Sunday.
For coach Tom Hopley it was his team’s best game of the year.
“It was a real ‘backs against the wall’ victory for us. It was probably our first 90-minute performance of the year,” Hopley said.
After the teams went to the break 0-0, Remy Siemsen scored 20 seconds after United’s kick-off.
The team went on the attack immediately and earned a throw-in deep in the University half.
Siemsen made a fine forward run, surged into their box and smashed it into the roof of the net.
University equalised from a corner in the 78th minute before Caitlin Jarvie, with four minutes of regular time on the clock, curled one into the top corner from outside the box after good lead up work by Siemsen.
Hopley paid tribute to his entire squad but singled out Nicole Stuart and Phoebe Gilbane as “outstanding”.
“Nicole got through a mountain of work and never stopped running.
Phoebe got the call up into first grade due to injuries but also as reward for working so hard and playing consistent football in reserve grade. I was really happy for her and she took her opportunity with both hands.
“But everyone played their part; it was a real squad effort. We were disciplined and played to instruction,” Hopley said.
On the negative side of the ledger there were times “we gave up cheap possession, so we can definitely improve on that” while “set piece defending needs to improve as we conceded from a corner”, according to Hopley.
“But overall, I’m so proud of our performance. And I said as much in the sheds afterwards.
“It was 90 minutes of quality and we spoke about using it as a springboard into the second half of the comp,” Hopley said.