[Source: OFC Media]
A winning goal, scored ten minutes into added-on time has given AS Academy Féminine an opening day 2-1 victory over host nation team Hekari United in Port Moresby in the OFC Women’s Champions League 2023.
The two sides put on an entertaining end-to-end affair on match day one after Labasa Women FC had dispatched Kiwi FC 6-0 in the opening match.
The New Caledonian side opened the scoring in just the second minute against when Drenga Leme finished superbly after receiving the ball just outside the right-hand side of the penalty box. She showed deft skills to take the ball down and drill past Fidelma Watpore in the Hekari goal.
Four minutes later Christelle Wahnawe fired a blistering free kick from 35 metres against the bar leaving the home side shellshocked.
But Hekari gradually started to get a foothold in the game and Nenny Elipas came close to an equaliser in the 22nd minute firing over the cross bar.
AS Academy Féminine, content to sit deep and catch Hekari United on the break, should have doubled their lead when Leme pulled a right footed shot wind of the left-hand post with no defender in sight.
Christelle Wahnawe and Jennifer Neporo both came close in the 33rd minute before Wahnawe forced a brilliant save from Watpore in the Hekari United goal two minutes later. Wahnawe and Alice Wenessia were constant threats for AS Academy Féminine.
Hekari United started the second half with more purpose. Captain Marie Kaipu led from the front with a series of searching runs. She came close to equalising in the 61st minute when her left foot shot from an acute angle was well saved by Lorenza Hnamano in the AS Academy Féminine goal.
Clear-cut chances were few and far between until the 81st minute when Hekari midfielder Gloria Laeli was fouled in the box and referee Beth Rattray had no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Still there was more drama as Ramona Padio’s side footed effort was easily saved. However goalkeeper Hnamano was adjudged to have been off her line and the penalty was retaken by Kaipu who made no mistake.
Proceedings seem destined for a draw until a late, late winner came courtesy of the boot of Ashley Xadrudrue Gowet, who arrowed an effort into the roof of the net to clinch the three points in dramatic fashion.