Bulls defeat champions Annerley to book grand final spot
IPSWICH City Bulls BWPL coach Ian Carson told his side to "dust off the frocks, you're going to the big dance” after they progressed through to the grand final with a gritty 2-1 win over Annerley on Saturday.
Second-half strikes from captain Shani Wilton and Nikki Cox cancelled out Laura Blue's opener for the Stars, as the Bulls became the first team to defeat Annerley this season.
"To win the way we did was a little bit special,” Carson said. "It's up there with one of the best games of the year.
"Determination, grit, all that sort of stuff. We showed it all.”
Carson was left "seething” after Blue's goal inside the first 20 minutes put the hosts ahead.
He said the linesman missed "a clear offside” in the lead-up to the goal.
It meant despite their ascendancy with the ball, the Bulls entered halftime down 1-0.
"At halftime we were down. But we said we aren't going to be intimidated anymore,” Carson said, referencing the Bulls previous loss to Annerley.
"We got a little angry at halftime. 'Not this time' we said.”
Carson told Georgia Harper on Thursday night she would be starting on the bench for Saturday's clash.
Despite her disappointment with the decision, Carson said he needed fresh legs in the second half when the going got tough.
Just minutes into Harper's introduction in the second half, she created the Bulls' first goal - crossing for Cox, who laid it back to Wilton to shoot for the bottom corner of the net.
"She was just brilliant,” Carson said of Harper. "She was a little upset about being on the bench, but I needed something at the back end of the game to come over the top of them.
"She turned the game on its head two minutes after getting on the park.”
Youngster Tash Ridley was also introduced in the second half and the Bulls continued to mount attacking raids on the Annerley goal.
Cox was the next beneficiary, when the Stars 'keeper allowed the ball to roll underneath her sliding body gifting Cox an easy tap-in for the 2-1 advantage.
Having hit the woodwork in the first half and missing an opportunity just minutes prior, Cox's muted celebration was a confusing one to those in attendance.
"At halftime she was nearly in tears because she hit the post,” Carson said.
"(The reaction) was hard to read, a few people asked her what was wrong. I think it was just pure joy and relief.
"It was a player of the match performance by her. Nikki was sensational - she's a freak.”
Destined for a famous victory, the Bulls were forced to twice dig deep to secure the upset result.
First when knee injuries to Lareena Meiklejohn and Teagan Gordon meant Carson's side had to play the final 10 minutes down a player.
Second when a dubious penalty was awarded against standout defender Marissa Maitland.
"You thought oh god, are they doing to do it to us again?” Carson said.
Louise Lloyd-Jones stepped to the spot for the Stars, but her strike bounced off the crossbar and the Bulls held on for a stirring away victory.
Brisbane Women's Premier League semi-final: Ipswich City Bulls 2 (Shani Wilton 61', Nikki Cox '73) def. Annerley Stars 1(Laura Blue 18') at Elder Oval