Camden Haven Redbacks women's team defeat Kempsey Saints 2-0

ON THE RUN: Mia Windred is on the chase for the Redbacks.
ON THE RUN: Mia Windred is on the chase for the Redbacks.

The Camden Haven Redbacks women's team are through to the third week of finals, after defeating Kempsey Saints 2-0 on the weekend.

Although having finished higher on the ladder than Kempsey Saints, the Redbacks were considered an underdog, having been defeated by Saints 5-4 early in the season, and then only managing a 3-3 draw in the final match of the regular season.

"We knew this match was going to be one of the hardest we had faced so far this season," coach Jose Ustariz said.

"Kempsey Saints is a quality side, and we'd been unable to defeat them in our two previous encounters, so we knew we'd have to step up if we wanted to continue on."

In front of a home crowd, the Redbacks dominated early on in the first half, maintaining control and creating opportunities.

The Redbacks midfield, led by Wade Bellamy and Bri St Ledger, kept any attempts at counter-attack at bay, while the forwards, led by Emily Mackenzie and Molly Gamblin kept the pressure on Saints defence. But despite the handle on the game, Saints defence held firm, the goals failed to come, and Saints continued to look dangerous on the counter-attack.

"We had a number of opportunities early on," Ustariz saidd. "But as we expected, the Saints defence was solid, and we couldn't break through for much of the half."

Grace Mackenzie.

Grace Mackenzie.

With 10 minutes to go in the first half though, the Redbacks got the break they needed. Having defeated multiple defenders, Redback Erin Gunton charged towards the goal, overcoming some heaving tackle attempts, to score a cracking goal and give the Redbacks a 1-0 lead at the break. The goal proved to be the lift the side needed.

"At half-time, we regrouped and reminded ourselves that this game was now ours for the taking, or ours for the losing - it was up to us which way we went," Ustariz said after half time.

"Two weeks earlier we had been leading 3-1 against this very team, only to end the game 3-3. We knew Saints were never going to lie down, and we'd have to pull out all the stops to hold onto and build on our lead."

The second half transpired much like the first, with the Redbacks predominantly in control, but Saints incredibly dangerous on the counter-attack.

Some incredible defence by Maria Wilson, Rachel Sheppard, Sonya Bell and Amelia Clacher helped to shut-down the fast-paced and talented plays down the left side, with each counter-attack by Saints followed by an equally threatening offence by the Redbacks.

Rachel Sheppard.

Rachel Sheppard.

But with the Redbacks only leading 1-0, the game remained incredibly close, until a free kick awarded to the Redbacks with 10 minutes to go, saw Wilson step up with an opportunity to seal the win.

With the wind behind her, positioned just inside half-way, Wilson hit the ball just right, placing it over the defence and keeper's head, into the top far corner, giving the crowd a goal to remember, and the Redbacks a 2-0 lead, and ultimate victory.

The win sees the Redbacks progress to the Semi Final, where they'll take on Port United at Dixie Park at 1:30pm. The winner will proceed to the Grand Final, where they'll meet competition Premiers Macleay Valley Rangers.

In the Premier League, the first grade men will take on Port Saints at Findlay Park at 2.45pm in the first of their elimination finals.