Longest Season Finishes on a High For Strikers

Rhiannon Cooke Jones, Nambucca Strikers Goalkeeper of the Year.

NAMBUCCA Strikers women ended their longest football season on a high note at their annual awards night.

The Strikers started team training in January and almost eleven months later the season finally ended.

2022 will be the season remembered for the rain that wreaked havoc resulting in numerous washed out and an extended season.

The growth and development of women’s football has been a silver lining at the football club.

“Season 2022 will go down in history as one of the longest and most competitive ones for many years,” said Nambucca Strikers women’s coach Rhys Jones.

“It was a credit to the team to keep on track, keep training, and adjust to any challenge presented to them.

“In a memorable season hit by rain, Covid and injury the team narrowly missed out on the semi-finals.

At times playing with as little as eight players, they never gave up and put some of the fancier teams to
the sword.”

Prolific striker Sarah Mander bagged a hat-trick of awards, winning Female Player of the Year, the Golden Boot and the coveted Players’ Player of the Year.

Mander had an outstanding year, scoring thirteen goals and spearheading the Strikers’ attack.

Whilst the coach was disappointed they just fell short of reaching the finals, he pointed to the bigger picture.

“Just missing out on the semi finals was a minor disappointment to a team who’s friendship, enjoyment and dedication to each other and their club was very evident.

“This group of ladies are truly great ambassadors for women’s football and the growth of the game in Nambucca Valley,” he said.

Coach Jones reflected on a year of growth and paid tribute to the players.

“Playing behind what some argue was the best defence in the league, keeper Rhiannon Cooke Jones
played with composure and control.

“The Strikers back four were a brick wall,” he said.

“Captain courageous Cheree Chapman and Liz Smith showed their class and experience and young fifteen-year-old Holly Bennett excelled in her first year in senior football – consistent, solid and dependable.

“The midfield hounded and harassed their more fancied opponents, at times playing against Women’s Premier league players.

”Veteran seventeen-year-old central midfielder Lilly Woodward led by example, mustering her troops constantly.

“In times of need, Lilly was there.”

Allie Hancock’s industrious performances in the middle of the park yielded the Senior Women’s Encouragement Award.

“Combining well with free running Allie Hancock, the engine room looks in good hands for the future.

“Playing wide in the midfield Jenny Brabant worked hard and ran all day, adding composure to the middle of the pitch.

“Youngster Jewelle Nelson would get the ball, beat defenders and crop up in critical areas.

“Continually stepped up, Alex Habgood kept fighting injury, however still gave her all and was a vital part of the team.

“Asheigh White, another fifteen-year-old coming up from the junior ranks, showed her skill and footwork, and consistently gave her markers trouble.”

It was the demeanour of Jelly Perriotte that resulted in the Coach’s Award.

“Calm, dependable and skilful, Jelly Perriotte played everywhere for the team.

“Her versatility was unmatched, whether it was as sweeper, right back or in midfield, she was there for the team.

“Jemma Burton Wood, the club’s eveready battery, would just run and run and run

“Up front was Carly Smith, who’s footwork and deft touch was a marvel to watch and even found herself in
goals when the team needed her.

“Sally Bells’ fight and tenacity typified the spirit of this team.

“She played too many games injured, but still played.

“Virginia Arkell’s season was cut short, as two long term injuries limited her to five games, however her two goals in that time showed her passion and nose for goal.”

Having just played their longest season ever, the charismatic coach vowed to be back at Coronation Park after Christmas.

“Next season starts in mid-January with pre season, we are looking forwards to be a force to be
reckoned with next season,” concluded Jones.


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