The Strikers ladies are through to the grand final. Photo: Christopher Tan.

The Strikers ladies side have booked their place in this season’s 2020 Football Wagga Leonard Cup grand final, after an inspiring 2-1 win against the Junee Jaguars at Gissing Oval, Wagga, this afternoon.

Attacker Kirrilee Cameron hit a brace to take her season tally to five, a goal in each halve.

Having drawn 1-1 and 0-0 during the regular season against the Jaguars, both sides knew an outcome was a must to progress from the semis.

Despite winning the kickoff, the Strikers started sluggishly,  as the Jaguars showed their attacking intents early.

A few shaky saves were forced out by Strikers stalwart and keeper Annette Parkinson, with her opposition raking up the corner counts.

Skipper Ashley Holder played deeper than normal in the first half, tracking back multiple times to intercept loose breaks from a quick Junee side.

The Jaguars were rewarded for their efforts in the 43rd minute when chaos in the Strikers’ box allowed their oppositions to go 1-0 up.

A final attack for the Strikers and a great break in midfield allowed substitute and 18-year-old Rosemaree Irving to play Kirrilee Cameron through.

Being one-on-one with the keeper, Kirrilee made no mistake to slot it through.

The Strikers’ spirits were lifted as the referee blew for a half-time score of 1-1.

Returning from the break, both sides must have had inspirational talks in the change rooms, as for the first time in the  afternoon, there was an even share of possession.

Early in the second, Striker’s defender Samantha Cram took a heavy blow. With the game paused and the stretcher out, Samantha managed to hobble off with an ice pack stuck inside her sock.

Whilst walking off, Samantha mentioned to The Times that it was the same foot she had suffered multiple ligament issues with in her younger playing days.

As the match went on longer, supporters were starting to believe in another stalemate, where extra time and possibly penalty shootouts, would be required.

Despite a few more knocks to the girls, they never looked weaker than their opposition as they continued to produce encouraging attacks.

In the 68th minute, a loose ball played through for the Strikers attack saw the Jaguars failing to clear their lines.

This landed an opportunity for the running Kirrilee Cameron, to round the keeper and boot the ball into the empty net.

It was a game of back-and-forth from here on, with the ladies working hard to defend this new lead.

When the final whistle sounded, the ladies were all up-in-roar and for this young side, many are starting to realise the opportunity they are getting in playing a grand final next weekend.

The Strikers then applauded for their opposition and their supporters as they walked off, and concluded with a well deserved team song.

Next weekend, the Strikers take on the winner of Hanwood FC or Tolland.

Christopher Tan