Woonona FC took out the first piece of silverware on offer in the Women’s Premier League for 2024. They had to do it the hard way after overcoming foes Shellharbour JFC on penalties after scores were locked 1-1 at full time.

Shellharbour started the brighter of the two teams in the early stages. A couple of early strikes to Christina Videla and Tahlia Petrovski did not find the target as they pegged Woonona back.

On 15 minutes, a deflection in midfield fell nicely to Petrovski who was through on goal however her shot slid past Ivana Peric and the far post.

Woonona started to get themselves back into the contest through their hard-working midfield and midway through the first half, they were rewarded. With the ball swung into the box, Shellharbour were adjudged to have pushed an opponent and a penalty kick was awarded.

Jordan Wheatley stepped up and belted the ball into the underside of the cross bar and into goal.

Not long after, a neat ball from Jessica Beale found Emily Franklin lurking in the box. She did ever so well to bring the ball down however her shot was pushed wide.

Woonona were on top and yet another opportunity presented itself with Bethany Nielsen having a dig from just outside the box that just didn’t have the accuracy to beat Christina Werakso.

Woonona were rotating their subs well as they managed to keep the pressure on Shellharbour. A corner just before the break saw Heath find Emily Muzevic on the far post however, she was unable to get an effective shot away.

It was all to play for in the second half with Woonona going into the break 1-0 up.

On 58 minutes, a failed clearance fell to Nielsen, but her effort was well saved by Werakso.

Shellharbour drew level on the hour mark. A driving run by Jessica Bell saw her get herself into a good position and her left foot shot from a slight angle smashed into the roof of the net giving Ivana Peric little hope.

Just five minutes later, Beale chipped Werakso from just outside the box however her effort bounced off the cross bar. It fell awkwardly to Franklin who just couldn’t bring it down quick enough as she fumbled a shot just wide.

With 20 minutes remaining, a Shellharbour corner was not cleared, and it produced a goal mouth scramble that had the ball ricocheting off several players as it was finally cleared to safety.

As time ticked by, Shellharbour had a golden opportunity to win it with Kristina Janeska through on goal however Peric managed to get her angles spot on as she smothered her effort.

Neither team was able to find a winner and the match had to be decided by penalties.

Woonona scored their first three spot kicks with Shellharbour missing their first two as they took a 3-0 lead. It was too much to overcome as Peric first had the chance to finish the job with a spot kick of her own (missed) however she atoned saving the next spot kick and sealing the win.

We’ve had three different winners in the Julie Porter Cup over the last three seasons and this sets up a grand season in the WPL which starts next week.

Match Stats

Report by Bobby Mazevski

Photos courtesy of Graham Brown

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