In the first of our #DubWrap features, Ben Gilby spoke to Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis about his background, the club’s W-League campaign, their squad of hugely talented local youngsters and plans for a brighter future (23/4/21).
Alex knew from the age of 22 that coaching was going to be his way of making a mark on the game.
“I played in the local NPL. I wasn’t going to be a professional player but I was comfortable with that and I thought that I wasn’t going to be a professional player, but I wanted to be in the game professionally.”
“I had to make a decision about what that was going to look like and I realised it was coaching. I started on that journey at a young age and, I think looking back at it now I’ve just turned thirty, that decision I made eight years ago has turned out to be one of the best I’ve made in my life.”
“Throughout that journey I had time at the Sydney FC Youth Boy’s Academy – that was my first proper coaching role. From there I moved on to Sydney University where I was also working with Canberra United as an assistant coach in the summer as the timings of the two seasons allowed that. So I spent a bit of time with Heather Garriock, which was a fantastic learning experience for me.”
“I only did that for one year because from a football point of view I couldn’t commit to 12 months of coaching. Sydney Uni was a big project and I didn’t want to let them down. So, I did four seasons at Sydney Uni, one of which was as assistant coach, three as head coach for the women’s team. I also coached the men’s team there in an interim position across two seasons.”
“It was a university for academics, but it was also for my education as a coach. I got to experience everything. I was fortunate enough to work with some good players (including Michelle Heyman) and good coaches and we had success.”
“By the end of last season there, we lost in the Grand Final after having been on a thirty-eight game unbeaten run. We lost there to Manly and I thought after that it was a good time to take a step back and have breather to balance my life out with other things.”
“Of course then, as tends to happen in football, when you announce you are going to step back for a bit, an opportunity that you’ve been waiting for presents itself and that’s what happened with Perth Glory.”
“It came out of the blue, the W-League pre-season was in full swing, so I wasn’t expecting an opportunity, but I got a call on the Friday from the CEO and I was there on the Monday.”
Coming into the W-League season, Perth Glory were in a very difficult position. The Western Australian state borders had been closed for much of 2020 and for so long it was not even certain that the club would be able to compete in the competition for this season as a consequence. Therefore very few players were attached to the club. I asked Alex what those early days and weeks were like.
“Ah, mate…! The club did a very good job of painting the picture of the difficulties that the season would be and what was happening. I didn’t go in there with any false ideas, but there’s one thing preparing for difficulties and another thing experiencing it!”
“I arrived on the Monday and I had to go into quarantine for two weeks, so I couldn’t coach the team. By the time I got out, we only had ten days to go until the first match.”
“In that period I also had to fill the last four or five positions on the squad and I had to do that remotely. There were thirteen players already signed, so I had to fill the rest. I wasn’t aware of the capabilities and balance of the players that were already at the club. So, I was taking a punt on the players that I was signing in the hope that they would balance the team. So, yes, there were difficulties, but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down.”
“The club were informed that they were able to play in the competition very late on. This was because there was the reality that Perth Glory may not be allowed to leave Perth to play. There was talk of relocating us to Sydney for the whole season, but none of the players were able to do that. So, if that was going to be the case, we wouldn’t be able to field a team this season.”
“The reality is that if things were different and I had more time, I would have put the pieces together differently. But, with coaching, you have to make the best of the crop you have, and if it wasn’t for Covid, I don’t know if I would have got the opportunity at the club that I did. Whilst Covid was difficult, it also presented an opportunity to me and players.”
That opportunity saw Perth Glory field an incredibly young team that, regardless of setbacks and circumstances just kept plugging away in a highly admirable manner.
“The squad had fantastic resilience. There was never a moment, despite the difficulties that we faced on and off the field, that a player dropped the tools or dropped their level of commitment or engagement. For that, I was so grateful.”
“There were countless times when we could have just fallen off, but we kept going. The players certainly developed. I was very proud to coach the team, and we had a very young and inexperienced team.”
“I really believe that I have given players an experience and an education and an opportunity that will hopefully set them up for success, whether that be with Perth Glory or other clubs in the future.”
“We were teaching inexperienced players to become competitive players, and that is not an overnight job, but we’re closer now than we were when we started.”
The difficulties were compounded by the early season injury to Gemma Craine, who had looked in excellent form in the opening games home and away against Adelaide United.
“We didn’t have many attackers to start with and Gemma was a player that I saw in my first session when I arrived. She was a ‘train-on’ or a ‘triallist’. I gave her a position in the team on the spot. I think she had been in and around Perth Glory trials before, but never given an opportunity for whatever reason, but for me, we needed someone with an X-Factor, some bite up front and she fitted the bill.”
“We lost seven games this season by one goal. I think that if we had someone like Gemma, some of those may have been draws or even wins. We’ll never know, but she certainly was a loss. I won’t sugar coat it, it was very difficult to replace her.”
One of the major positives in the campaign for Perth Glory was the incredible determination, work ethic and spirit within the squad that ensured that they never stopped trying to create despite being in losing positions. I asked Alex whether this ethic was one he and his coaching staff worked to instil or if it was naturally there with this group of players.
“I can’t say that I had a conscious plan in instilling effort and desire. My idea is that should be a given for a footballer at a professional level. The reality is that you don’t always get that. I was very fortunate. The players just looked around and said ‘we’re a young squad, we’ve got countless hurdles in front of us, but let’s just give this a red hot crack.’”
“There were times when I thought, ‘how about I save myself here and play a very defensive set up and we’ll try not to lose games.’ But I can safely say that myself and the players never went out not to lose a game. Despite what was happening, we still went out trying to win every game.”
“I don’t think the players would have taken it on board to sit off anyway. It’s not my style and it’s not their style. We were a young team and we had nothing to lose so our view was that if we were going to go down, we were going to go down having a real good crack.”
We then turned our conversation towards the future of Perth Glory’s W-League side and started debating whether the club could consider entering a side in the WA NPLW in a bid to keep the youngsters together ahead of the next W-League season.
“It’s something we’re certainly looking at,” said Alex “We’re not necessarily thinking about a full time program over winter, but I have brought to the attention of the club that we need to look at ways of engaging with the players more often because it seems silly that they go off to the NPL for seven months which is supposed to set them up for the premier competition which is for four months and we’re expecting them to be up here (holds hand high up) by the time pre-season starts.”
“We need to find a way to bridge the gap between the NPL and the W-League so players can get to a place that we need them to get to and we are looking at ways internally as to how we can make that happen.”
In terms of preparations and potential recruitment for the next W-League season, Alex is very clear that it’s already under way.
“As soon as the final whistle went in our last game of this season at Melbourne Victory, I was already making plans. Not just from a recruitment perspective, but from a club point of view. Tony Pignata (Perth Glory CEO) and Terry McFlynn (Academy Manager) in particular have been very supportive. I can’t thank them enough for the support that they’ve given in the difficult times, but also the support that they are giving now to enable me to go and do what I need to do to put the pieces together.”
“Player recruitment is certainly a very hot topic at this point in time. In terms of adding experience, well, experience is certainly a word that we like, but I look around and I think, ‘is it quality or experience that I want, is it just experience or is it just quality?’ For me, I want quality players on the field and quality people off the field. Now if that means they are 25 or 18 it’s irrelevant, but they are the people that we want. That is my framework when I go and talk to players that I want for next season.”
With Perth Glory having a big crop of very young players who have great potential, the club are already beginning to secure some of their key players for another season.
Teenage duo Hana Lowry and Tijan McKenna have already been signed on for another year along with experienced club captain Tash Rigby.
“I am personally extremely pleased and proud that three of our core players have committed to the club going forward. It sets a fantastic foundation and direction for the squad and all three players have great value within the team.” Alex said.
“Tash proved to be a strong leader throughout adverse times this past season. Her commitment to the team and club on and off the field is priceless and she is one of the fiercest competitors I have come across in my coaching career to date. We are extremely pleased to have her lead the group next season and I look forward to working with her to continue to guide and set the direction for the team.”
“Hana is an outstanding talent. She was immense in her efforts and performances throughout the whole season when she certainly took the opportunity to step up and be a key player for the team. Hana has the potential and mind set to develop into a top-level player and I look forward to playing a part in that process.”
“Tijan is another key long-term signing who proved last season that she is able to go toe-to-toe with all players. She certainly stood out to me early in my time here and developed considerably over the course of the season.”
“All three women are local WA players who embody the values and commitment that we are seeking to form the cornerstone of our team direction.”
“The club have a spine of WA produced players that can potentially play for Perth Glory for a long time. We want to make sure that we support their individual goals which may well mean that at some stage they go overseas, but while there are WA girls playing in Australia, we want the best ones to be playing for Perth Glory and we want to not just retain our best crop from WA but also want to track the best talents from around Australia,” Alex continued.
“At the very least this season, any player or any coach in the W-League can turn to Perth and say ‘Wow! More often than not there were more teenagers on the field than there were over aged players’, so at least players can feel that if they come to Perth, there is an opportunity for them regardless of age.”
“We want to have a pool of talent coming through and there is a lot of work that we can do behind the scenes in the off season and ensure that we keep our best players in Perth whilst they are in Australia and support them until they can go to bigger and better things overseas.”
We concluded our chat by examining what potential goals Alex has for the club for the next W-League season in terms of progression.
“Next season started for me the day after the last game against Melbourne Victory. I’m an ambitious coach and no player wakes up to not be ambitious and not want to win. The plans are that we need to improve, we need to win games, we need to be competitive in games for 90 minutes and we need to continue to build a playing style that is recognisable for us and that we believe is effective against any opposition.”
“Once you can do all those things, then you can start to think of goals and where you want to finish. We’ve got to get the core things right first and if we can nail and improve those areas, success will be a by-product.”
“I’m really interested in the next couple of months in nailing down the players to bring the style to life. Once the style is brought to life consistently over 90 minutes, we’ll get closer to winning games. When we start winning games we can start to talk about where we’re going to finish. But, in a nutshell, we need to improve: that’s the main aim.”
Given the long-term approach that Alex Epakis is taking to his work in Western Australia, it looks like the club are in a good position to make progress next season.
Look out for another #DubWrap feature with another W-League Head Coach/Player looking back at their season soon!
Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.
Netherlands 5-0 Australia (14/4/21)
By Ben Gilby
Despite producing a performance which was arguably better than in their defeat to Germany on Saturday, the Matildas, without three first choice defenders went down to a heavy loss in Nijmegen.
The Dutch, who came into the game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Spain at the weekend, were dominant in possession in the early stages, but it was possession from patient passing rather than pressing.
Ironically, Australia had begun to look more solid at the back, largely due to the presence of Emma Checker, but with five minutes gone, all that counted for nothing.
Mary Fowler misjudged her pass which went straight to an orange shirt. Within the twinkle of an eye, Vivianne Miedema got a shot away which was pushed out by Mackenzie Arnold into the path of her Arsenal team mate Jill Roord who couldn’t miss.
The Matildas tried to hit back and seven minutes later a one-two between Sam Kerr and Checker resulted in the ball flying over the bar.
Back came the Netherlands and Miedema hit a shot from long range which was parried by Arnold and cleared for a corner by Checker.
The pressure continued to grow and with twenty minutes gone the Dutch doubled their lead. Danielle van de Donk played in Lieke Martens who hit a shot from the left hand side of the box. The ball bounced in front of Arnold and went under her arms into the net.
Four minutes later, Arnold saved The Matildas after a glorious move from the Dutch. Dominique Janssen had the ball out on the right and fed van der Donk who then played in Martens. The scorer of Holland’s second goal played a delightful reverse pass to Roord who got a shot away which Arnold blocked with her feet.
There was no such luck for Australia on 27 minutes when the heavy press from the Netherlands forced an error and Miedema passed across to Manchester United’s Jackie Groenen who swept the ball into the net for 3-0.
It could have got even worse three minutes later and it was Miedema involved again. This time she found Martens who curled a great effort just wide.
As the half entered its final five minutes, Australia were finally able to launch some offensive moves. Hayley Raso got free on the left, cut inside and got a shot away which Sari van Veenendaal held and it remained 3-0 at the break.
Ahead of the second half, The Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson brought on Dylan Holmes for her debut and the former Adelaide United star would go on to produce an excellent performance amidst a real baptism of fire.
Australia continued to create coming forward with a real opportunity coming just before the hour mark when Kerr combined with Emily van Egmond to play in Raso. The Everton star’s cross towards Kerr who found her way into the box was just cleared before the Chelsea hot-shot could get there.
The Netherlands responded instantly as Miedema pulled a ball back for van de Donk who forced Arnold into a save.
Back came the Matildas and Checker got forward and played in a dangerous ball which Stefanie van der Gragt sliced out for a corner. The flag kick came in to van Egmond who fed Holmes outside the box and the debutant’s half volley was just over the bar.
The hosts made Australia pay for those two missed opportunities with a great piece of skill. Martens played an outstanding cross field ball towards substitute Lineth Beerenstein. Arnold came out to meet her, but Beerenstein got there first and touched it over the Matildas keeper and into the net.
Within three minutes, even more salt was rubbed into Australian wounds and it was all too easy when Miedema crossed in and Holmes’ attempted clearance went straight to van der Donk and the Arsenal star was not going to miss.
There was one further opportunity for the Matildas to get a goal back. Holmes combined with Emily Gielnik who played it on to Caitlin Foord. Her shot was parried by van Veenendaal into the path of Holmes but the follow up went wide.
It’s been a tough two games in four days for Australia. Ultimately they played two of the top teams in the world whilst unable to put together a full strength squad. It was not unexpected that they would lose both of these games, but even the most pessimistic Matildas fan would not have expected ten goals to be conceded in those matches.
Teams: NETHERLANDS: van Veenendaal, Janssen, van der Gragt, Nouwen, van Dongen, Spitse, van de Donk, Groenen, Roord, Miedema, Martens. Substitutes used: Beerenstein (for Spitse 45), van Es (for Janssen 62), Snoeijs (for Miedema 73), Folkertsma (for Groenen 82), Janssen (for Martens 82),
Scorers: Roord 5, Martens 20, Groenen 27, Beerenstein 67, van der Donk 70.
AUSTRALIA: Arnold, Goad, Brock, Kennedy, Luik, Fowler, van Egmond, Raso, Checker, Kerr, Ford. Substitutes used: Holmes (for Fowler 45), Gielnik (for Raso 62), Mastrantonio (for Brock 79).
Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.
By Ben Gilby (13/4/21).
Last night, three of Impetus‘ four Australian women’s football contributors were invited onto the Since ’71 Podcast to review the W-League season and more widely introduce Australian women’s football to a UK audience.
The episode can be listened to here: https://since-71.com/since-71-podcast-s03e07-w-league-season-review-with-impetus/
Myself, Kieran Yap and Kris Goman spent just over an hour talking about the game Down Under to Since ’71 founder Stu Barker.
Among the discussion points were reviewing the Grand Final, introducing some of the young stars of the season, talking about the clubs and looking at The Matildas prospects over the coming months.
Impetus‘ coverage of the W-League this season has seen us report on every single match played in the competition, interview some big name players and profile some of the key names.
Whilst the season has just come to a close, keep an eye out for a couple of special #DubWrap features over the coming weeks where we’ll be reviewing the season with head coaches and players.
Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.
by Kieran Yap (13/4/21)
Wow, what a game what a season, what a goal!
You couldn’t script it, the title fight was a rematch of the Premier’s Plate decider a fortnight ago. On that evening, Sydney FC took the bragging rights, the trophy and the status of Grand Final favourites.
Ominously on that night, Kyra Cooney-Cross struck a late, curling shot to pull one back for Melbourne Victory in that 2-1 loss and in the last possible moment in the final she stepped up again to score the most important goal of her career so far.
At the very end of extra time, with a minute remaining until the lottery of penalties, the Victory playmaker took the responsibility of a corner kick. With the pressure both on her and on a tired Sydney defense she opted to whip it in to the most dangerous area possible, the goal line itself.
It was almost definitely a shot. Regular viewers of Victory games will have noticed that she has been trying this at least once each week. She’s usually been on target but rarely troubled the keeper. When it mattered most it flew in, Cooney-Cross became a W-League legend and the victim of the most delirious game of stacks-on the W-League has ever seen.
The player it beat was Jada Whyman, the 21 year old Sydney Goalkeeper who put in one of the best games of her career. All night she made save after save. Spectacular efforts kept out Annalie Longo twice and a brave moment where she closed down a goal bound Melina Ayres typified her night. She looked unbeatable at times and was rightly recognized as the official Player Of The Game.
Without Whyman’s efforts, the contest could have been over much earlier, Victory pummeled the Sydney goal and on the few occasions that the ball did escape her reach it crashed off the woodwork.
Her desperate lunge to keep out a Cooney-Cross header at point blank range was barely believable, she made this Grand Final the most rare of football gems, brilliantly entertaining yet scoreless.
Of course finals aren’t won or lost by individuals. Clare Wheeler was dangerous throughout, Lisa De Vanna looked determined to add to her remarkable legacy and before she was injured Princess Ibini looked the most threatening for Sydney.
But titles are decided by moments and between them Whyman and Cooney-Cross had the biggest and best moments of the night. Whyman is surely a senior Matilda in waiting and the usually reserved Cooney-Cross was bold in her post match interview about what her future holds, Europe & the national team.
This was a final for the ages and the actual ages of it’s key protagonists make the future very bright for Australian football.
Whilst this is the last of the #MidweekDub for the season, stand by for #DubWrap where we review the season with head coaches and players.
Sydney FC 0–1 Melbourne Victory (12/4/21).
By Ben Gilby with EXCLUSIVE photos from Kogarah by Kris Goman
Melbourne Victory won a hugely dramatic Grand Final with an incredible goal straight from a corner by starlet Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Despite it taking almost two hours of play for a goal to be scored, it was a hugely entertaining Grand Final that was end to end for long periods in the second half.
The first W-League Grand Final to go to extra-time at Kogarah saw both sides going into the game with unchanged line-ups from their semi-finals.
The action was combative from the off. With just two minutes played, Princess Ibini escaped down the left and just as she was looking to get a ball across the box, Catherine Zimmerman came in with a robust challenge at the cost of a corner. Teresa Polias curled the flag kick in viciously and Gaby Garton had to watch closely as it just cleared the crossbar.
Lisa De Vanna was at the heart of Victory’s early forays forward, and with nine minutes gone looked to create down her left, but an excellent challenge from Charlotte Mclean prevented any further threat.
Shortly afterwards, Kyra Cooney-Cross got free down the left, cut inside and escaped from three Sydney defenders before curling in a shot which rebounded back off the crossbar with Jada Mathyssen-Whyman beaten.
Twenty minutes in, Clare Wheeler released Ibini with an inch perfect through ball. As the Sydney striker entered the left hand side of the box, she was dispossessed expertly by Polly Doran who did well to remain on her feet in making the challenge.
Wheeler’s influence was growing and with it was Sydney’s prominence in the game. She stole possession from Claudia Bunge just after the half hour mark and moved on into the box. Just as she got her shot away, Bunge was back snapping at her heels which aided Gaby Garton in gathering the eventual effort on goal.
Just before half-time Sydney threatened when Ibini showed great strength to hold off Doran before being taken out by Amy Jackson, who prevented real danger on the dark blues’ goal.
Yet, it was Victory who came close once more in hitting the woodwork for the second time just before the interval. Cooney-Cross popped up on the right this time and sent a ball towards De Vanna who found space in the middle of the box. Her header came back off the bar.
Melbourne Victory opened the second half on the front foot with De Vanna having two early shots blocked in the box.
Seven minutes in and Wheeler showed her worth once more, getting away down the left and playing in a teasing ball towards Remy Siemsen who couldn’t quite get there first.
Victory replied with De Vanna laying off a ball to Jackson on the edge of the box. She in turn found Catherine Zimmerman who turned and shot but Mathyssen-Whyman gathered.
An hour in, De Vanna was involved in the build-up again. This time she found Cooney-Cross whose effort was blocked but rebounded into the path of Annalie Longo, whose effort went just over the bar.
Sydney suffered a setback when Ibini, who was particularly prominent in the first half had to come off after picking up what at the time looked like an ankle knock. She was replaced by Allira Toby.
De Vanna the supplier was in evidence yet again shortly after this with a marauding run through the middle finding Ayers centrally, just outside the box. Her effort flew over the bar.
Victory’s dominance continued with another move which De Vanna had a hand in. She beat Natasha Prior on the left and laid off for Jackson. Her ball in was met by Zimmerman but the effort was well over.
With twelve minutes left, Sydney began to build with a dangerous ball in finding Wheeler who couldn’t quite make the contact that she would have liked in attempting a side-footed volley.
Victory responded instantly. Cooney-Cross played a ball in which Nat Tobin looked to have cleared under heavy pressure but the ball came back in from Jackson which saw Mathyssen-Whyman get a palm to the ball just ahead of De Vanna.
The see saw nature of the game then went Sydney’s way as the match entered the last ten minutes. A sweeping cross field ball from Polias found Toby. She advanced towards the left hand edge of the box, got away from Doran and unleashed a rocket of a shot which Garton did well to get a touch to.
Back came Victory. Zimmerman’s high ball in to the back post was met by the head of Cooney-Cross but Mathyssen-Whyman saved with her midriff. The rebound came back to the Melbourne teenager who got a shot away which the Sydney keeper brilliantly blocked once more with her feet.
Deep into stoppage time at the end of the ninety minutes, Victory were within a whisker of scoring once more. Cooney-Cross’ corner came in from the left and Mathyssen-Whyman looked to have gathered but dropped the ball. Bunge, no more than two metres from the goal-line tried to make contact but couldn’t force the ball over the line and Natasha Prior was able to make the clearance.
Despite an action packed second half there were still no goals, which meant extra-time for the first time in a W-League Grand Final.
Sydney started extra-time on the offensive and the difficult opening to the additional thirty minutes continued for Victory when Zimmerman had to go off holding her calf, which saw Lia Privitelli introduced.
Despite this, Victory created the first real opportunity of the extra period when Jackson released Longo who hit a long range stunner from over thirty yards which Mathyssen-Whyman saved well.
The Sydney shot stopper was called into making another great save from a long range effort from Longo just before the end of the first period of extra time.
Shortly afterwards, Privitalli played a great ball in from the right to Cooney-Cross who was in the centre of the box. Her shot was well placed but cleared for a corner.
Three minutes into the second period of extra-time, Victory broke away with De Vanna who turned Tobin but shot over.
Mackenzie Hawkesby got Sydney away when dispossessing Cooney-Cross. She found Polias who in turn played a long ball through to Toby who rounded Doran and got a shot away which Garton held.
With five minutes left, De Vanna gained possession and played a ball in which Sydney substitute Angelique Hristodoulou missed allowing Ayres to get a shot away which went wide of the right hand post.
With the clock ticking towards 120 minutes, Cooney-Cross turned Polias and got away through the middle before playing a long ball out to De Vanna on the left who won a corner.
The first was cleared and a second was awarded, despite Sydney protestations that it should be a goal kick.
Up stepped Kyra Cooney-Cross once more. She curled in another vicious corner which flew straight in the net.
There was one last chance for Sydney as Ally Green sent an effort from almost forty yards which landed on the roof of Gaby Garton’s net.
It was Melbourne Victory’s day and given the incredible season she has had, entirely fitting that it was Kyra Cooney-Cross who settled it.
KRIS GOMAN CAPTURES THE REACTIONS POST GAME:
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Tobin, Prior, Green, Hawkesby, Polias, Wheeler, Lowe, Siemsen, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Toby (for Ibini 62), Hristodoulou (for Mclean 89), Ray (for Hawkesby 114), Rule.
MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Morrison, Bunge, Beard, Longo, Jackson, Cooney-Cross, De Vanna, Ayres, Zimmerman. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Eliadis (for Longo 110), Martineau, Privitelli (for Zimmerman 93), Barbieri (for Doran 116).
Scorers: Cooney-Cross 120.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
Germany 5-2 Australia (11/4/21)
By Ben Gilby
An impressive attacking display from a technically brilliant German side missing several regulars, ensured that they ran out comfortable winners against a makeshift Australia in Wiesbaden.
The Matildas, playing their first game for thirteen months and with Tony Gustavsson taking the reins, were only able to pick European based players which meant two first choice defenders were unable to make the journey and there was only one recognised left back in the team, Karly Roestbakken, who would go off injured with only fifteen minutes played. Ellie Carpenter, who has been in outstanding form for Olympique Lyonnais was also ruled out due to a string of coronavirus infections within her club.
Australia started aggressively and at high tempo for the opening ten minutes but things began to unravel.
With eleven minutes on the clock, Germany took the lead following a ball coming in from the right which Aivi Luik got a touch to but couldn’t prevent the ball from falling to Sjoeke Nusken who fired into the bottom corner.
Things got worse four minutes later with the injury to Roestbakken, who was replaced by debutant Beattie Goad.
Germany continued to press and Lina Magull found Paulina Krumbiegel who was denied by smart work Goad. Goad came to the Matildas rescue again when Magull combined with Lea Shuller. It remained 1-0 to the hosts at the break.
Any immediate hopes that Australia had of turning the deficit around were blown within two minutes of the re-start.
Magull found Sara Dabritz who played a lovely ball into the box which was met with the side foot of Kathrin Hendrich for 2-0.
Germany were now playing some excellent one touch football and Schuller played in Dabritz who took the ball on before laying off a pass to Tabea Wassmuth. Her shot was deflected out for a corner.
Still the pressure mounted and Nusken’s cross was met firmly by Magull. Lydia Williams in the Matildas goal managed to get a block in with the follow up effort blocked by Alanna Kennedy.
On the hour mark, Australia had a chance when Leonie Maier conceded a corner. Emily Gielnik’s flag kick came in and was met by the head of Kennedy. This effort was blocked with the rebound falling to Caitlin Foord but her effort was deflected away.
The Matildas paid the price for missing these opportunities as Germany broke up the other end to increase their lead.
Nusken got free and played in substitute Julie Brand. She escaped from Clare Polkinghorne and Laura Brock to slot into the far corner of the net with 62 minutes played.
Two minutes later it was 4-0 as a long ball from Brand found Laura Freigang who was never going to miss.
Tony Gustavsson rang the changes and brought Indiah-Paige Riley and Alex Huynh on for their debuts and there was also a welcome return to Matildas duty for Emma Checker.
Germany fashioned another two chances as Sophia Kleinherne, Brand and Freigang all hit efforts narrowly over the bar.
With ten minutes to go, Australia got on the front foot with Hayley Raso getting down the wing and earning a throw. Checker took and found Gielnik who tried to turn but the effort was cleared.
A minute later the Matildas and Gielnik had better luck. Polkinghorne’s long ball through found her club team mate Gielnik who used her strength to see off both Nusken and Kleinherne and fire home.
Germany were not finished though and from a free-kick, Linda Dallmann shook off Hyunh to fire home for 5-1.
In true Matildas “never say die” attitude, Australia hit back with a long ball played in by Raso which was met with the classic Emily Gielnik header for her second goal of the afternoon.
It was undoubtedly a disappointing result for Australia regardless of the predicament in which they found themselves – a limited team-selection, a new head coach and the first time any of these players had been able to meet up since March 2020.
One positive that the Matildas can take out of a tough afternoon is the fact that the players who made their debuts in the game, quite incredibly, were only the tenth new faces to play for the team since Tara Andrews won her first cap against China in 2015. There’s plenty more young superstars to follow these debutants into the Australia side in the future, but first this current crop must overcome their existing disadvantages to face another exceptionally tough game in the Netherlands on Tuesday evening.
Teams: GERMANY: 1) Merle Frohms, 3) Kathrin Hendrich, 4) Leonie Maier, 5) Marina Hegering, 7) Lea Schuller, 8) Paulina Krumbiegel, 13) Sara Dabritz, 15) Tabea Wassmuth, 20) Lina Magull, 24) Jana Feldkamp, 25) Sjoeke Nusken. Substitutes used: 16) Linda Dallmann, 19) Julie Brand, 14) Laura Freigang, 22) Fabienne Dongs, 10) Linda Dallmann, 2) Sophia Kleinherne.
Scorers: Nusken 11, Hendrich 48, Brand 62, Freigang 64, Dallmann 90.
AUSTRALIA: 1) Lydia Williams, 3) Aivi Luik, 4) Clare Polkinghorne, 7) Karly Roestbakken, 9) Caitlin Foord, 10) Emily van Egmond, 14) Alanna Kennedy, 15) Emily Gielnik, 16) Hayley Raso, 17) Mary Fowler, 20) Sam Kerr. Substitutes used: 13) Beattie Goad, 5) Laura Brock, 8) Amy Sayer, 12) Indiah-Paige Riley, 23) Emma Checker, 2) Alex Hyunh.
Scorers: Gielnik 82, 90+2.
The best players want to play in the biggest games – and referees are no different. Which is why Rebecca Durcau is buzzing to have been appointed to referee in Sunday’s Westfield W-League 2021 Grand Final, when Sydney FC host Melbourne Victory at Netstrata Jubilee Oval.
It’s the third time Durcau has received the honour, recognition for her excellent season refereeing eight games in the Westfield W-League 2020/21 Season, and comes a year after she was appointed to the Westfield W-League 2020 Grand Final behind closed doors as the coronavirus pandemic took hold.
Durcau revealed she was called last Sunday by Strebre Delovski, director of refereeing for the Australian Professional Leagues (APL), to be told she would be in charge of the season’s showpiece event.
“It’s a really nice bonus after what’s been a choppy season because of all the issues associated with playing during COVID,” Durcau said.
“But though it sounds like a cliché, it’s just another game in terms of preparation – it’s the same effort to get everything right.
“You know the atmosphere will be there, and that passion levels will be higher because it’s a final, but at the end of it you want all the focus to have been on the game and hopefully no one’s talking about what we did.”
Joining Durcau will be Assistant Referees Laura Moya & Lauren Hargrave, Additional Assistant Referees Lara Lee & Isabella Blaess with Sarah Ho as the Fourth Official.
Durcau also officiated in the Westfield W-League 2018 Grand Final, and APL Commissioner Greg O’Rourke said her selection once again was fully deserved.
“We want the referee who’s most on top of their game to be in charge for such an important event, and you can see that Rebecca is in exactly that space,” said O’Rourke.
“Her third appointment to a grand final is testament to her professionalism and dedication, and I’m sure she will do her best to help produce a great game of football.”
WESTFIELD W-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL MATCH DETAILS
2009 – Queensland Roar 2 (Harch 6’, Butt 26’) Canberra United 0
Venue: Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane. Referee:Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 4,554.
Queensland Roar: Casey Dumont, Kate McShea, Karla Reuter, Clare Polkinghorne, Brooke Spence, Elise Kellond-Knight, Lana Harch (Ruth Blackburn 85’), Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Courtney Beutel (Tashina Roma 84’), Ellen Beaumont (Stephanie Latham 75’).
Canberra United: Lydia Williams, Rhian Davies (Nicole Begg 80’), Amy Chapman (Ashleigh Sykes 46’), Caitlin Munoz, Sasha McDonnell, Ellie Brush, Grace Gill, Hayley Crawford, Cian Maciejewski, Kara Mowbray, Thea Slatyer.
2010 – Sydney FC 3 (O’Neill 66’, Walsh 73’, Rydahl 78’) Brisbane Roar 2 (Harch 14’, Butt 92’)
Venue: Shark Park, Sydney. Referee:Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 1,439.
Sydney FC: Nikola Deiter (gk), Teigen Allen, Servet Uzunlar, Heather Garriock, Julie Rydahl, Sarah Walsh (Brittany Whitfield 89’), Kylie Ledbrook, Cathrine Paaske (Michelle Carney 90’), Kyah Simon, Linda O’Neill, Leena Khamis (Catherine Cannuli 84’).
Brisbane Roar FC: Casey Dumont (gk), Kate McShea, Karla Reuter, Clare Polkinghorne, Joanne Burgess, Elise Kellond-Knight, Lana Harch (Courtney Beutel 72’) (Steph Latham 83’), Aivi Luik, Tameka Butt, Lauren Colthorpe, Ellen Beaumont.
2011 – Sydney FC 1 (Ledbrook 34′) Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Butt 10′, De Vanna 66′)
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 1,872.
Sydney FC: Dimi Poulos, Teresa Polias, Danielle Brogan, Servet Uzunlar, Renee Rollason (Catherine Cannuli 76’), Caitlin Foord, Kylie Ledbrook (Linda O’Neill 90’), Lydia Vandenbergh, Teigen Allen (Nicola Bolger 68’), Kyah Simon, Leena Khamis.
Brisbane Roar FC: Casey Dumont), Clare Polkinghorne, Brooke Spence, Joanne Burgess (Karla Reuter 84’), Kim Carroll, Elise Kellond-Knight, Lana Harch (Lisa De Vanna 42’), Aivi Luik, Tameka Butt, Amy Chapman (Kennya Cordner 67’), Lauren Colthorpe.
2012 – Canberra United 3 (Heyman 10′ 55′, Sykes 17′) Brisbane Roar FC 2 (Gielnik 21′, Butt 63’pen)
Venue: McKellar Park, Canberra. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance:2,512.
Canberra United: Lydia Williams, Caitlin Cooper, Ellie Brush, Hayley Raso (Emma Kete 69’), Grace Gill (Caitlin Munoz 76’), Michelle Heyman, Nicole Begg (Sykes), Ashleigh Sykes, Sally Shipard, Taryn Hemmings, Jennifer Bisset.
Brisbane Roar FC: Casey Dumont, Laura Alleway (Olga Cebrian-Garcia 84’), Clare Polkinghorne (Ellen Beaumont 71’), Brooke Spence, Joanne Burgess (Emily Gielnik 21’), Kim Carroll, Catherine Cannuli, Lana Harch, Aivi Luik, Tameka Butt, Vedrana Popovic.
2013 – Melbourne Victory 1 (Larsson 41’) Sydney FC 3 (Bolger 25’, Kerr 48’, Simon 86’pen)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 4,181.
Melbourne Victory: Brianna Davey, Danielle Johnson, Maika Ruyter-Hooley (sent-off 85′), Rebekah Stott, Laura Spiranovic, Petra Larsson, Stephanie Catley, Jessica McDonald (Jessica Humble 73’), Enza Barilla, Amy Jackson, Gulcan Koca.
Sydney FC: Sham Khamis, Teresa Polias, Elizabeth Ralston, Samantha Kerr, Nicola Bolger (Larissa Crummer 80’), Caitlin Foord, Renee Rollason, Annalie Longo (Brittany Whitfield 90’+3), Chloe Logarzo (Natalie Tobin 86’), Alanna Kennedy, Kyah Simon.
2014 – Melbourne Victory 2 (De Vanna 38’, Barnes 41’) Brisbane Roar FC 0
Venue: Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne. Referee: Casey Reibelt. Attendance: 2,504.
Melbourne Victory: Brianna Davey, Jessica Humble, Katie Hoyle (Emily Hulbert 77’), Stephanie Catley, Jessica Fishlock, Lisa De Vanna, Jessica Samuelsson, Emma Checker, Beattie Goad (Enza Barilla 92’), Gulcan Koca (Ella Mastrantonio 68’), Lauren Barnes.
Brisbane Roar FC: Nadine Angerer, Laura Alleway, Brooke Spence, Kim Carroll, Elise Kellond-Knight, Katrina Gorry, Vedrana Popovic (Sunny Franco 83’), Tameka Butt, Hayley Raso, Emily Gielnik (Larissa Crummer 58’), Ayesha Norrie (Joanne Burgess 46’).
2015 – Perth Glory 1 (McCallum 63’) Canberra United 3 (Ochs 20’, Sykes 75’ 78’)
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance:2,671.
Perth Glory: Mackenzie Arnold, Sarah Carroll (Carys Hawkins 62’), Bronwyn Studman, Shannon May, Alanna Kennedy, Caitlin Foord, Kate Gill, Elisa D’Ovidio (Gabrielle Marzano 73’), Collette McCallum, Shelina Zadorsky, Marianna Tabain.
Canberra United: Chantel Jones, Catherine Brown, Caitlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Grace Maher (Julia De Angelis 53’), Michelle Heyman, Sally Rojahn, Nicole Begg, Ashleigh Sykes, Lori Lindsey (Grace Gill 91’), Stephanie Ochs.
2016 – Melbourne City FC 4 (Beattie 32’, Little 54’, Goad 80’, De Vanna 95’) Sydney FC 1 (Simon 69’pen)
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 4,206.
Melbourne City FC: Brianna Davey, Jen Beattie, Laura Alleway, Aivi Luik, Steph Catley, Kim Little, Larissa Crummer (Marianna Tabain 67′), Jess Fishlock (Alexandra Chidiac 89′), Lisa De Vanna, Rebekah Stott, Beattie Goad (Amy Jackson 86′).
Sydney FC: Michelle Betos, Liz Ralston, Jasmyne Spencer, Teresa Polias, Nicola Bolger (Olivia Price 83′), Princess Ibini (Sunny Franco 63′), Natalie Tobin (Renee Rollason 74′), Alanna Kennedy, Teigen Allen, Kyah Simon, Leena Khamis.
2017 – Perth Glory 0 Melbourne City FC 2 (Fishlock 45+1′, Yanez 72′)
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 4,591.
Perth Glory: Gabrielle Dal Busco, Sarah Carroll (Patricia Charalambous 75′), Kim Carroll, Alyssa Mautz, Nicole Sutton, Rosie Sutton, Vanessa Di Bernardo, Jaymee Gibbons (Shawn Billam 54′), Natasha Rigby, Sam Kerr(c), Arianna Romero
Melbourne City FC: Lydia Williams, Lauren Barnes, Teigen Allen, Laura Brock, Aivi Luik, Steph Catley (c), Jess Fishlock, Erika Tymrak (Melina Ayres 94′), Rebekah Stott, Marianna Tabain (Amy Jackson 68′), Beverly Yanez (Tyla Jay Vlajnic 87′)
2018 – Sydney FC 0 Melbourne City FC 2 (Fishlock 35′, Taylor 75′)
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney. Referee: Rebecca Durcau. Attendance: 6,025.
Sydney FC: Aubrey Bledsoe, Caitlin Cooper, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Elizabeth Ralston, Emily Sonnett, Kylie Ledbrook (Rachael Soutar 75′), Teresa Polias, Chloe Logarzo, Lisa De Vanna, Leena Khamis (Remy Siemsen 66′), Princess Ibini (Julia Vignes 84′)
Melbourne City FC: Lydia Williams, Yukari Kinga, Steph Catley (c), Rebekah Stott, Lauren Barnes, Jessica Fishlock, Aivi Luik, Kyah Simon (Rhali Dobson 62′), Jodie Taylor (Tyla-Jay Vlajnic 90+2′), Ashley Hatch (Amy Jackson 84′)
2019 – Sydney FC 4 (Huerta 6′, McCaskill 41′, 61′, Logarzo 70′) Perth Glory 2 (Kerr 23’pen, Mautz 68′)
Venue: Jubilee Stadium, Sydney. Referee: Kate Jacewicz. Attendance: 6,127
Sydney FC: Aubrey Bledsoe, Sofia Huerta, Ally Green, Alanna Kennedy, Elizabeth Ralston, Danielle Colaprico, Teresa Polias, Chloe Logarzo (Amy Harrison 82′), Savannah McCaskill (Angelique Hristodoulou 90+2′), Caitlin Foord, Princess Ibini (Lisa De Vanna 75′)
Perth Glory: Eliza Campbell, Natasha Rigby, Jamie-Lee Gale, Katie Naughton, Kim Carroll, Shannon May (Caitlin Doeglas 67′), Alyssa Mautz, Nikki Stanton, Sam Kerr, Leticia McKenna (Alexia Moreno 75′), Rachel Hill
2020 – Melbourne City FC 1 (Steph Catley 15′) Sydney FC 0
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne. Referee: Rebecca Durcau. Attendance: (match played behind closed doors due to COVID-19 restrictions)
Melbourne City FC: Lydia Williams, Lauren Barnes, Emma Checker, Rebekah Stott, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Aivi Luik, Yukari Kinga (Milica Mijatovic 67′), Emily van Egmond, Claire Emslie, Kyah Simon (Ally Watt 85′).
Sydney FC: Aubrey Bledsoe, Ally Green, Lindsay Agnew, Alanna Kennedy, Ellie Brush, Teresa Polias, Natalie Tobin (Amy Sayer 73′), Taylor Ray (Mackenzie Hawkesby 85′), Remy Siemsen (Princess Ibini 63′), Sofia Huerta, Veronica Latsko.
In the second of our three part preview of this weekend’s W-League Grand Final, Kris Goman looks in depth at Sydney FC (8/4/21).
Sydney came into the finals series as Premiers after leading the table for the bulk of the season. With losses only to Adelaide United and Brisbane Roar, who were both knocked out of the finals, and a single nil all draw to Canberra United, they are in a strong position to take the championship this weekend.
Despite being a young team, the core of the team have played together for a couple of years now and the new players for this season have gelled well and quickly.
Unfortunately, in the last couple of weeks, Sydney have lost two key players in Ellie Brush and Cortnee Vine to season ending injuries.
The loss of Vine in particular has been felt. Responsible for four goals, three assists and twenty chances created, she was a penetrating force on the left for Sydney and fed a lot of balls to Remy Siemsen.
There’s still plenty of solid attack though in Princess Ibini, Remy Siemsen, Allira Toby and Rachel Lowe. Saying that, other than Ibini’s penalty, the forwards haven’t scored any goals in the last four matches.
Siemsen has been stranded up field a lot and is often caught offside. Recent matches have seen her facing the wrong way a lot and passing back more than going forward. Yet when she gets the ball in the right space, she is deadly.
Ibini has upped her work-rate lately and is dropping back into defence a lot more, tackling more, intercepting more, shooting more. And when she shoots, she’s shooting missiles. On target missiles usually.
But the overriding factor for Sydney is their defence. They have the lowest number of goals conceded this season and there’s not a weak link at the back. While Ellie Brush is a huge loss, she has been more than ably replaced by Natasha Prior, who has just returned to the league after a serious concussion injury in 2019.
Combined with Natalie Tobin, Charlotte Mclean, Ally Green and Angelique Hristodoulou, who are all in top form, it’s a pretty formidable team at the back capable of bringing it forward as well as keeping it out. And that’s certainly going to be required to keep the likes of De Vanna, Ayres and Cooney-Cross under control.
And that’s not mentioning Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, who has been a rock at the back, coming equal first for clean sheets and having the least goals conceded by a margin of five goals. Along with a few saves of the round, she’s had an outstanding season.
Sydney’s last two games before the Finals were against Melbourne Victory and Canberra United and only Kyra Cooney-Cross was able to broach the defence with a spectacular rocket in the dying minutes of that game against Victory. Both teams had more possession than Sydney and, to be honest, looked the better teams but simply couldn’t get through the defence to score.
To win the championship, Sydney need to defeat both these teams again. Canberra are now taken care of so it’s just Melbourne Victory left to overcome. They seem to have their measure in defence but will need to step up in attack.
Midfield will be key, as it always is. With Teresa Polias leading the charge here, ably supported by Clare Wheeler, Mackenzie Hawkesby and Taylor Ray, they need to ensure the forwards get good balls and they get them in spaces they can shoot from. Or alternately, do what they did last weekend and let the midfield, and even backs, shoot. The Hawkesby, Wheeler and Green goals last weekend were all glorious. They played exciting football and took the chances that were offered. The final being a home match for Sydney should give them a slight advantage although it’s likely a few fans will make the journey from Victoria to offer some support to Melbourne Victory.
No doubt Ante Juric will have been fine-tuning the attack to address the lack of recent goals from the forwards. We’ll soon see if Sydney can take the long awaited double and lift the championship trophy for a record equalling fourth time.
STILL TO COME: We feature Grand Final referee Rebecca Durcau.
Over the next few days we will be looking ahead to this weekend’s W-League Grand Final. Today, Kieran Yap looks in depth at Melbourne Victory (7/4/21).
Melbourne Victory fans would have been justified entering 2021 with cautious optimism. The lineup that began the first game of the current season looked very different from the one that was beaten by Sydney FC in the Semi-Final of 2020 but despite losing some very big names the club under the leadership of Jeff Hopkins has taken that next step and made the big game. With only 90 minutes remaining between hope and glory, lets take a look back at what made the season what it was.
A big part of what carried Melbourne Victory to second on the table last season was the defensive pairing of Laura Brock and Jenna McCormick. Any attackers good enough to get past the two Matildas at Centre Back then were faced with the challenge of Casey Dumont. The shot stopper had a stellar campaign and was recognized by supporters as the Victory Vikings Player Of The Season, all three of these stars needed to be replaced for 2021. Brock and McCormick departed for Europe and Dumont was cruelled by injury before the league began. Filling their shoes was a tall order and Victory has achieved it excellently.
The current defensive partnership of Claudia Bunge and Kayla Morrison has formed a ruthlessly miserly unit and the recruitment of Argentina International Gabby Garton has been a masterstroke. The new look Victory defense took a few games to click but since round five they went on to concede just five more goals for the rest of the season.
Up the other end American attacker Catherine Zimmerman has gone from a virtual unknown at W-League level to being a vital part of the Victory attack, she has been a mobile, skilful player who floats between either flank and is deadly close to goal as her finish in the Semi Final and decider in a 1-0 win against Adelaide show.
Three of the biggest signing announcements for Melbourne in the pre-season were the returns of Angie Beard, Kyra Cooney-Cross and the legendary Lisa De Vanna.
Victory fans still pining the loss of goal machine Natasha Dowie were instantly given hope when the first images of De Vanna appeared on social media. What she has done in her long career is well known, but after a year in Italy with Fiorentina, it had been a little while since Aussie fans had seen what she can do. She sent the fans and the competition a strong reminder with a brilliant solo goal against Melbourne City in which she dummied over the ball and ran half the field to score and was ominously dominant in the semi-final last weekend.
Fullback and captain Angie Beard has been one of Melbourne’s most consistent performers for this campaign. She has been essential to that strong defense and offered a consistent threat going forward. Her ability to surge past defenders and whip in crosses has been a reliable and dangerous part of Victory’s attacking plan and helps pin back opposition wide players.
The return to the club of Kyra Cooney-Cross was a great signing, after enjoying a breakout season in 2020 with Western Sydney, the young attacker came home and took on more responsibility in the midfield. Playing behind the front three and supported by Amy Jackson and Annalie Longo in midfield, Cooney-Cross has been given the license to create and has the skills to make the most of it. She has the passing range of Emily Van Egmond and De Vanna-like close control, the number 7 in navy blue is a potential match winner.
How they got there
Victory’s season is best typified by a strong defense and an unpredictable attack, the long term signing of Melina Ayres was justified with the forward enjoying her best season to date in the W-League and the side was able to keep six clean sheets for the season on the way to a third place finish. They won three times by scoring only once and have developed a good balance between attack and defense. The 6-0 loss to Brisbane was not so much a warning sign as it was a wakeup call and they went undefeated until the final round where they met Grand Final opponents Sydney FC
Why they can win
It’s tempting to just start rattling off names to justify why Victory can win, they have players with pace such as Polly Doran, (a revelation at right back) they have players who can belt in a long range screamer like Barbieri or Cooney-Cross and they have the current in form center forward in Melina Ayres, hot off a semi final hatrick. Victory stumbled when it mattered against Sydney in the premiership decider two weeks ago but it was only one of three losses for the season. The two goals conceded were from preventable set pieces and Cooney-Cross’ late consolation screamer was a reminder that goals can come from anywhere in this squad.
The players are in form, in sync and in the best position in years to claim a Grand Final win.
STILL TO COME: Between now and the Grand Final on Sunday, we’ll have an in-depth look at Victory’s opponents Sydney FC by Kris Goman and a feature on Grand Final referee Rebecca Durcau.
Sydney FC 3-0 Canberra United (5/4/21).
Report by Ben Gilby with EXCLUSIVE photos from Kogarah by Kris Goman.
Premier Plate winners Sydney FC took their place in the W-League Grand Final against Melbourne Victory after a 3-0 win over Canberra United at Kogarah in front of a good crowd in the Semi-Final earlier today.
With Sydney naming an unchanged starting eleven from their final regular season game against the Victory in midweek all of the pre-game headlines surrounded Canberra United.
The W-League’s all-time leading goal scorer Michelle Heyman was ruled out completely for Canberra United due to a quad injury. She was replaced in the starting line-up by Demi Koulizakis whose only previous W-League goal came seven years ago for Western Sydney Wanderers.
Despite this, it was Canberra who started on the front foot. With just twenty-seven seconds played, their Kiwi star Paige Satchell escaped down the left and played a dangerous ball in towards Nikki Flannery who couldn’t quite connect and Sydney were let off.
In these opening ten minutes Canberra were profiting from being allowed more time on the ball by their hosts. Conversely, when the Sky Blues were in possession, there was always at least one Lime Green shirt snapping at the heels of their Sydney opponent. The other consequence of this was that Canberra were totally dominating possession.
With twelve minutes gone, Sydney fashioned their first dangerous opportunity. A delightful long ball from Teresa Polias found Rachel Lowe who was one on one with visiting keeper Keeley Richards, but the Canberra custodian came out bravely to gather possession.
Sydney earned their first corner shortly afterwards when sixteen year-old defender Jessika Nash put the ball out. Polias’ flag kick was cleared. Lowe then played a clever ball through which Laura Keir did well to prevent falling into Princess Ibini’s path. It did though roll the way of Remy Siemsen who blazed over the bar.
Sydney were finally exerting some consistent pressure and on the quarter of an hour mark they showed the vital importance of turning pressure into goals – something which Canberra failed to do in the early exchanges.
Clare Wheeler was found on the left and played a beautiful ball in to Mackenzie Hawkesby at the back post. Her first time volley flew across Richards and into the net.
After twenty minutes, 21 year-old Bianca Galic released Satchell on the left. Sydney defender Natalie Tobin just couldn’t catch her, but equally, none of Canberra team mates could match Satchell’s pace to get up to support either, consequently the Football Ferns star’s effort was saved by Jada Mathyssen-Whyman.
The side from the national capital were responding well to going behind with Galic playing a particularly prominent role in this period. Nikki Flannery’s run in behind the Sky Blues’ defence saw United awarded a corner.
Canberra were earning back to back corners and throw-ins in the danger zone but could not capitalise.
Instead, it was Sydney who threatened once more. Tobin got clear along the left and found Siemson who in turn played in Ibini. The Sydney striker got away from Nash and knocked in a low ball towards Rachel Lowe who would have had a tap in if Canberra had not managed to scramble the danger away.
With ten minutes of the half remaining Sydney had another great chance. Siemsen played in Tobin who came up from the back and found herself on the left hand side of the box. She fired in an effort that Richards got down well to save.
Seven minutes before the break, Canberra created their best chance so far. Emma Ilijoski released Maher on the left. Polias looked to have cleared the danger and passed to Natasha Prior who clearly wasn’t expecting the ball to come her way and played a panicked ball back towards Mathyssen-Whyman which Flannery intercepted and hit an effort which the Sydney keeper had to deal with at the cost of a corner.
With seconds left of the first half, Canberra keeper Keeley Richards caused a heart-stopping moment for her team when she came out of her box to clear but the ball bounced off of her chest and into the path of Siemsen who couldn’t profit.
The visitors had the bulk of possession in the first half, but could not find the final passes and quality finishing to convert this into goals on the scoreboard. Canberra finished the half having played twice the number of passes that Sydney did and had over two thirds of the possession – yet it was the hosts who were leading 1-0.
Sydney began to get on top as the second half opened. Clare Wheeler got past several defenders in to the box before edging wide and pulling a ball across towards Siemsen who was not able to get a shot away as Kendall Fletcher collided with her own goalkeeper Keeley Richards who needed a prolonged period of medical attention to ensure that she was in a fit state to carry on.
On the hour mark, Satchell released Koulizakis who returned the favour to the New Zealander, but her shot was immediately swallowed up by a group of Sydney defenders and another Canberra opportunity was gone.
Again, Sydney emphasised the importance of taking chances when they come your way shortly afterwards. Nash lost possession and Sydney’s Teresa Polias fed Ibini who played a pass out to Charlotte Mclean. Her ball in found Wheeler who turned and hit a low volley goal wards. The ball deflected off of Lauren Keir and into the net to double the Harbour City side’s lead.
With just under twenty minutes left, the outcome was decided in magnificent style. Sydney gained possession just inside the Canberra half. Ally Green was in space and surged towards goal and unleashed a thunderbolt from almost thirty yards that flew into the top left hand corner.
The remainder of the game rather petered out as Sydney didn’t want to over-exert themselves in order to preserve energy for next weekend. Canberra did fashion one further opportunity with five minutes to go when Laura Hughes got in and fired an effort which referee Isabella Blaess ruled that Jada Mathyssen-Whyman got a hand to and pointed for a corner. The danger was cleared and Sydney were home and hosed.
Sydney’s win sees them make a fourth successive W-League Grand Final and their eighth in total. They have a chance to make amends for last season’s defeat in the decider when they face a #BigBlue showdown against Melbourne Victory at home next Sunday.
Mackenzie Hawkesby, who scored the opening goal said: “It was a good goal. I saw the ball coming and thought I’d make a run and it fell to me. I got a good touch on it, so I was happy with that. We defended really well and did a good job on the counter attack.”
Canberra United have had an excellent season and played some wonderful football at times. They may be left wondering what might have happened if Michelle Heyman, who scored almost half of their goal tally in the regular season had been fit to play. Yet, Sydney finished top of the table for a reason and they have proved that they are capable of taking chances when they come – a sign of a champion team.
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Tobin, Prior, Green, Polias, Hawkesby, Wheeler, Lowe, Siemsen, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Toby, Hristodoulou, Ray, Rule.
Scorers: Hawkesby 15, Wheeler 64, Green 73.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Nash, Fletcher, Ilijoski, Galic, Maher, Hughes, Flannery, Koulizakis, Satchell. Substitutes: Jones (GK), Goldstein, Taylor-Young, Rasschaert, Grove.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.
Brisbane Roar 2-6 Melbourne Victory (4/4/21).
By Kieran Yap
In wet conditions, facing their third opponent in a week and coming off a disappointing defeat to Sydney FC, Melbourne Victory travelled to face Brisbane Roar, the side that had previously embarrassed them 6-0 earlier in the season.
The Semi Final offered Victory a chance for redemption after narrowly losing the premiers to Sydney FC while Brisbane had enjoyed strong form leading into the finals but were without leading scorer Emily Gielnik and captain Clare Polkinghorne. Larissa Crummer made her first start for the Roar to lead the line for the side that had started the year as one of the favorites.
Victory showed no signs of fatigue, pressing aggressively from the first whistle and earning early corners to test the home side’s defense but it was the Roar who had the first meaningful strike on goal.
The busy Mariel Hecher crossed the ball in low from the left and Tameka Yallop met it at full pace, crashing a shot off the crossbar where it bounced behind Gabby Garton in the Victory Goal. She celebrated, convinced the entire ball had crossed the entire line but there was no whistle, play continued and replays were inconclusive.
In response Victory went on the attack, Kyra Cooney-Cross sent in a perfect ball from the right and found Melina Ayres in space in front of goal, she was unable to get a clean shot away and although Catherine Zimmerman came to help bundle the ball home, Georgina Worth was able to scramble to save.
Victory’s next attack was much more clinical, Melina Ayres turned her defender and flicked a pass with the outside of her foot to Lisa De Vanna who took a touch and rifled home off her left. She had been involved in most of the attacks from the kickoff and seemed determined to impact the game. It was a well-worked move by Victory and an in-form Lisa De Vanna spelt trouble for Brisbane.
Brisbane worked their way back into the game with Mariel Hecher in particular menacing the Melbourne defense, popping up dangerously on both flanks. When the equalizer came it was spectacular and unstoppable, Jamilla Rankin played the ball square to Olivia Chance almost 30 yards from goal. Chance unleashed a rocket of a strike that dipped just over Garton and under the bar to delight and shock the home crowd.
The scores weren’t level for long, Melbourne went straight onto the attack, Kyra Cooney-Cross cruised with the ball around the penalty box, waiting for an opportunity. She slid a pass wide to Catherine Zimmerman who, like De Vanna before her, took a touch and scored off her left from an almost identical position. Victory went in to the break 2-1 up, perhaps lucky to be so but looking dangerous.
Whatever plans Brisbane had were undone early in the second half. Just two minutes in, De Vanna found herself in space on the left and tore towards goal, she drew three defenders to her but got away a shot that Worth could only palm away into the path of Melina Ayres. The young striker was on the spot to finish and give Victory a two goal cushion.
As if aggrieved that she hadn’t scored a second, De Vanna continued to menace The Roar. On the 67th minute she robbed Tameka Yallop of the ball and danced her way into the penalty area, shifting feet and shimmying to create space to shoot. She send the ball past Worth at the near post with an incredible strike, full of power and direction, rocketing into the top corner. Even her captain Angie Beard looked stunned by the goal it was vintage De Vanna.
Despite the deteriorating score line Brisbane kept pushing, Hecher sent a bullet-like cross into toward Crummer but the excellent Claudia Bunge managed to flick it away, and Yallop pulled one back after another brilliant effort by Chance was tipped onto the bar by Garton. The Matildas midfielder made no mistake this time, forcing the ball over after reaching the rebound. Brisbane had a lifeline.
As the game edged towards 90 minutes there was still time for more drama, after a goalmouth scramble Victory were awarded a mysterious penalty. Even with the benefit of replay it was unclear what it was for. The Brisbane coach Jake Goodship was furious but in any event the penalty was missed after Ayres was forced to re-take it after shooting before the whistle.
Up the other end, Brisbane again looked to have scored after Hecher met a low cross and finished well but was judged to have been offside and Yallop whipped in a cross that Crummer directed wide and high after an open header.
The game seemed to increase in pace as it neared the end and Victory’s attack remained hungry, Kyra Cooney-Cross flicked a header wide to Polly Doran who shot low and hard from the right. Worth was able to save it but once again Ayres was first to the ball and she finished emphatically to net her second.
Not content to rest on their lead Victory had one more left in them. Amy Jackson recovered the ball in the attacking third and played it to Ayres feet just inside the box. Ayres steadied and curled a well placed strike around the defenders and the goalkeeper to get her hat-trick and score Victory’s sixth of the Semi Final.
The game ended 6-2, Victory are into the Grand Final and the loss to Sydney looks to be a hiccup at this point rather than a reversal of form. They are at full strength boasting a hard working and creative midfield, a dangerous attack and a back four that have been consistent in both performance and personnel.
Brisbane might be disappointed with how their season has ended but they provided the competition with some great highlights and performances this year. They were unfortunate that the side-effect of their success was to be without their best defender and best striker for the Finals, but that is the sad reality until the W-League becomes a full time professional competition.
It was an entertaining, at times stressful evening of football that proved that even in the late stages of the competition it is still a league capable of incredible surprises, chaotic fun and exquisite skill.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Torpey, Rankin, Heatley, Carroll, Dalton, Hecher, Chance, Franco, Crummer, Yallop. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), McQueen, Horsey, Margraf, Freier.
Scorers: Chance 43, Yallop 74.
MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Cooney-Cross, Longo, Jackson, Zimmerman, Ayres, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Barbieri, Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis.
Scorers: De Vanna 23, 61. Zimmerman 45. Ayres 47, 87, 90+6.
Referee: Lara Lee.
Sydney FC 2-1 Melbourne Victory (1/4/21).
Report from Kris Goman at Cromer Park.
Sydney finally clinch the premiership after ten years in the doldrums. Despite winning the championship three times, the premiership, which is awarded to the team who finish top of the table at the end of the regular W-League season has remained elusive in recent years.
Captain Teresa Polias was actually on the team last time Sydney won the Premiership and it speaks volumes of her longevity as that was in 2011, exactly ten years ago.
The funny thing about this match is that everything is at stake but nothing is at stake. If either team win they would win the Premiership and get a home semi-final which gives a distinct advantage. On the other hand, both teams have safely qualified for the finals series and a loss would not change that. It would just change who they played and where the game would take place.
Sydney are playing without star forward Cortnee Vine who injured her knee last week against Canberra. I spoke to her after the match and she didn’t know yet the extent of the damage but knew it was an MCL injury not an ACL. That still puts her out of the Finals series unfortunately.
Victory are fielding much the same team that demolished Perth Glory on the weekend. When you’re on a good thing, stick to it.
So in this much anticipated match which was originally due to be played a fortnight ago but postponed due to sustained heavy rain, Melbourne Victory kick off and are immediately on the attack. The press down the left through Lisa De Vanna, Angie Beard and Kyra Cooney-Cross is unrelenting but the Sydney defence are standing up to this attack. Sydney are attacking mostly on transition and Mackenzie Hawkesby gets a long ball to Princess Ibini who drives towards the box before passing back to Hawkesby. She takes one touch but pokes it over the crossbar uncontrolled.
Not too long after, Remy Siemsen takes a long range shot outside the box but Gabriela Garton has it in her sights the whole way.
Straight back on the attack De Vanna displays her signature fancy footwork and sidesteps a number of defenders before passing to Cooney-Cross who also takes a long range punt. It’s a bit too high and goes over the crossbar but it was nicely weighted and directed other than height. It certainly shows what she’s capable of.
Almost immediately afterwards Beard takes a shot but it’s straight to Jada Mathyssen-Whyman in the Sydney goal. Victory have come to play, no doubt about that.
Victory continue to press. Natalie Tobin and Natasha Prior are standing up to the onslaught but at this stage, it feels like Victory has the upper hand and the bulk of both possession and territory. Cooney-Cross gets another couple of shots in, one is gathered by Mathyssen-Whyman and one deflected by Tobin. Even Princess Ibini finds herself back doing a lot of defensive work.
On a rare Sydney attack, a ball comes into the box to Ibini but she’s not facing goal and can’t turn and the danger is nullified.
A Rachel Lowe intercept sees another incursion to the box for Sydney but results in a free kick just outside the box to be taken by Teresa Polias. Victory establish a large wall. The kick goes just over the wall to the top of the near post and into the back of the net past the outstretched arms of Garton. So sweetly struck for what is unbelievably only Polias’ third goal in her 155 W-league matches.
Victory are not fazed by the goal and continue their attack getting two corners shortly after the goal. They both come to naught.
Hawkesby gets a yellow for a shirt pull on Cooney-Cross. The resulting free kick is cleared but then bounces around outside the box until Prior chooses to clear over the goal line to relieve the pressure with a corner.
There are moments of brilliance from both sides but Victory still seem to have the bulk of possession and territory in the lead up to half time but the Sydney defence stand resolute.
Just before half time Sydney bring the ball into the box and Siemsen gets it back to Hawkesby. Her shot passes Kayla Ann Morrison and Garton pushes it away towards Ibini. Ibini ends up kicking it out as Garton dives and gets a hand to it so it’s a Sydney corner. The corner goes into the side netting in a wasted opportunity.
The second half sees more of the same. There’s a gasp as Garton does a soft clearance that Wheeler intercepts but she can’t control it and it goes straight back out.
Things feel a little bit more even in the second half and Sydney get a few more attacking opportunities. In one, Hawkesby passes to Siemsen and she gets a decent shot away only to be called offside. Garton had it covered but it was a better play by Sydney.
A Victory attack with a cross from substitute Catherine Zimmerman cross sees Mathyssen-Whyman stretch up high to grab then drop then retrieve the ball right in front of goal.
A little later Zimmerman receives the ball out on the right and runs Green around before shooting straight to Mathyssen-Whyman.
A Polias ball out to Ibini on the left sees her drive once more into the box and send a ball across an open goal that is missed by everyone.
De Vanna has a shot up the other end after some nice lead up work by Victory but it’s also straight into Mathyssen-Whyman’s arms.
After 71 minutes, Sydney get a penalty when Siemsen is fouled on the left on the box. Ibini steps up to take it and powers it past Garton on the right and this takes the score to 2-0 Sydney, even though it’s not really that reflective of the match, Sydney have taken their chances and Victory just haven’t been able to broach the Sky Blues’ defence despite a concerted effort.
Melina Ayres splatters Ally Green with a boot to the face and gets a yellow for her efforts. It takes a while to get her sorted and back on the field.
In a last second saving of face, Cooney-Cross displays some individual brilliance. Five minutes into stoppage time, the ball comes out to the right from Ayres to Cooney-Cross. She brings it into the box, drags it to her left, wrong foots Green and sends a rocket to the top left corner beating Mathyssen-Wyman. It’s all too little, too late but was definitely the goal of the match, just beautifully struck and showing her total class.
Sydney get the match, the Premiership and the semi-final hosting rights. The trophy is presented to Polias and she brings it over to her team and they hoist it in victory. It was a well-deserved win in the end and marks the end of a fairly dominant season by Sydney where they were table toppers week in, week out.
Victory look on desolate as they really put in a great effort in this match but just couldn’t bring home the bacon.
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Green, Prior, Tobin, Polias, Hawkesby, Wheeler, Siemsen, Lowe, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Hristodoulou, Rule, Ray, Toby.
Scorers: Polias 29, Ibini 73.
MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Longo, Cooney-Cross, Ayres, Barbieri, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis, Zimmerman.
Scorer: Cooney-Cross 90+5.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
Westfield W-League Final Table 2020/21:
|Western Sydney Wanderers||12||4||1||7||13||21||13||-8|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory: Sunday 4th April, 4pm KO local time (5am UK)
Sydney FC v Canberra United: Monday 5th April, 3pm KO local time (4am UK)
All games live on BT Sport in the UK
Majella Card is a well-known fan of women’s football in Australia due to her work with the Matildas Active Support and Brisbane’s Roar Corps supporters group. Ben Gilby spoke to her ahead of the Queensland side’s Finals campaign (31/3/21).
We opened our conversation by exploring the history of the Roar’s women’s football side.
“Brisbane Roar started life as the Queensland Roar in 2008 as one of the foundation teams of the W-League – the club changed names to Brisbane Roar in 2009. We have a really proud history at the club, having taken the Premiership and Championship double in the inaugural season as the first of three total Premierships and two Championships in the league’s history. We have been really fortunate to have so many wonderful players kit up for us, including Nadine Angerer when she was FIFA World Player of the Year! We’ve had a host of Matildas players, none more noteworthy than Clare Polkinghorne who had been with us from the very beginning until the end of the regular season this year when she went to Sweden. She is a legend of the club. We haven’t lifted any silverware since our Premiership in 2017/18, but hoping to change that this season.”
With Majella a key member of the Roar Corps fans group, I was keen to know what a typical match day looked like from their perspective.
“A Roar home game is always a really fun experience. Game day involves getting to the ground early and setting up banners and the active area before the game. For the past couple of seasons we have played games between Dolphin Stadium in Redcliffe to the north of Brisbane or Lions Stadium in the west of the city. Whichever venue, many fans drop into the clubs attached to the ground to catch up and have a meal and a few beverages before the game. We have a really diverse and raucous crowd at games and The Roar Corps aim keep up and making noise for the full game with chants and fun banter. I’m usually on one of the drums during games and never have much of a voice remaining when the whistle blows! One of the great things about W-League is also the time the players take to speak with fans after the games. COVID restrictions have put a bit of a dampener on getting autographs recently, but we’ve been so grateful to still be able to attend games. There is always a line-up of kids (and adults!) waiting to say hi to players after the game and they are really generous with their time.”
This season has been substantially different in the W-League, initially due to the coronavirus pandemic, which made life, particularly at the beginning of the campaign very difficult.
“Several players starting the season shortly after fourteen days of hotel quarantine wasn’t ideal for us,” says Majella. “Uncertainty around the schedule and who and when you might be playing in the upcoming weeks must also disrupt plans – but all teams had to deal with that. From a fan perspective I’ve been disappointed having two away trips cancelled because of border closures and fixture changes, but I was lucky enough to get down to see the Roar’s win against Sydney which was a really fun trip. Overall I think we have been really fortunate being able to get the games completed like we have, and especially being able to have fans in the stands. In the grand scheme of things I’m really grateful for all of the work people have done behind the scenes so we can have a safe and fun season for everyone.
Brisbane Roar were among the favourites for the W-League title this season and there was great surprise therefore when they opened the campaign with four successive draws. Majella wasn’t too concerned however.
“It was very frustrating, impatiently waiting for the goals to come that I knew the team were capable of. The first game against Melbourne City in particular was hard to take as we were totally dominant, but I had to put it down to rustiness of the new season and an amazing performance from their keeper Teagan Micah to deny us. However throughout all of the four draws I was always really happy with our defence. Two legends in Clare Polkinghorne and Kim Carroll were rocks at the back, and then our young fullbacks Wini Heatley and Jamilla Rankin were also looking really strong. So while some of the missed shots were getting frustrating, we had a really solid foundation and I felt that getting the confidence in front of goals was only a matter of time. That 6-0 win against Melbourne Victory to start our winning streak was one helluva stress release!”
As Majella hinted once Brisbane grabbed their first win, success just kept on coming: “I think the run was started due to a combination of things. Probably confidence in front of goal, getting minutes into the legs of players and, yeah, gelling as a team. It’s no coincidence that the winning streak coincided with Emily Gielnik starting to slot the goals away. I think Emily can be a real confidence player so finally getting a goal to salvage a draw against Newcastle must have given her a boost for the following games. Tameka Yallop was coming back from an extended break and starting her family, so while she had been working really hard in those early games as she always does, I think those extra game minutes to get her touch back was also a factor. While much had been made of the number of Matildas we have, there has also been a lot of change from last season and the team has taken time to settle and get used to playing with each other. Younger players like Rankin and Heatley stepping up into regular starting roles, Mariel Hecher playing her first W-League season after starring in the NPLW in Queensland, and New Zealand international Liv Chance also playing W-League for the first time. Having that time to gel in training and learning to execute in games just seemed to take a little longer than we had hoped, but they are looking very good now.”
Like so many of the other W-League sides, it is the young generation of Roar stars that have caught the eye of Majella this season: “Matildas aside, three players have really stood out for me. Our two full backs, Wini Heatley and Jamilla Rankin have been really great this season. They both bring so much in defence and attack on the wings – it’s been great to see them both step up to own those starting positions, they are certainly stars of the future. Liv Chance has also been an amazing addition to our midfield. She is such a crafty player and her passing has really been key to opening up our attack. She will be a crucial part of our run into finals.”
As with the vast majority of Australian women’s football fans, the emergence of the youngsters this season has been a major part of making the campaign so enjoyable.
“It has been great seeing local talent get more game time across the league in all teams. Adelaide are seeing the benefit of investing in their local talent this season. Sydney FC have had a relatively stable squad of players and have been able to draw on some of the best talent in the NPLW NSW. At Brisbane, we have benefitted from those Matildas who have come home from Europe choosing to play at home and also some of the best from the local Queensland competition stepping up. Certainly we’ve seen a bit of a drop in quality after losing some Matildas and imports, but I think teams that invest in supporting local pathways and making their club a supportive and high quality place to play will always set themselves up for success. The teams that will be heavyweights into the future will be those who can attract and keep their best local talent and also attract interstate players with club set-ups that are appealing for player development.”
With Brisbane having such a successful season leading up to the Finals, I wanted to ask Majella what she thinks the club need to do to ensure they make a Grand final this year.
“Consistency and continuing to play good team football. A big strength for us has been our depth and having strong players across the park and not relying on a small number of players to run the show. We have attacking threats from multiple avenues and maintaining our solid defence will put the Roar in a good position.”
Yet Brisbane’s finals hopes have taken a twist with the loss of two key players, Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Gielnik to Sweden at the end of the regular season. I wondered how Majella assessed the consequences of this.
“Their presence, experience and class cannot be easily replaced. Polkinghorne has been a rock in defence and has been outstanding yet again this season, and losing the (likely) Golden Boot winner in Emily Gielnik is a worry for our team that has struggled at times to put the ball in the back of the net. But it is also a great opportunity for some of our emerging players to step up in a semi-final.”
“Looking at the wider squad, we have cover in those positions, and a number of players like Izzy Dalton, Wini Heatley and Kaitlyn Torpey who can move position as needed. I would expect to see Torpey get some more game time in the finals and she is a great player to be able to bring in to a bigger role.”
We ended by looking ahead to the future of the W-League both in Brisbane and more widely in Australia: “The Roar have been fortunate this year having some really high quality Matildas players come back to play for us, but that may not be the case in future years. Queensland has always been a great talent pool for footballers so there will always be good talent to draw from locally. A challenge will be keeping that local talent in Brisbane when other clubs are competing for the best in Australia as well. As I mentioned before, one of the biggest factors will be ensuring the club provides a supportive environment for players so the Roar can keep and attract the best players in the league.”
Adelaide United have had the greatest season in their W-League history coming agonisingly close to qualifying for the Finals for the first time and breaking the competition’s regular season attendance record. Ben Gilby spoke to the club’s Head of Women’s Football, Ivan Karlovic about progress in South Australia (30/3/21).
BEN GILBY: Can you tell us a bit about the journey that women’s football has had at Adelaide United?
IVAN KARLOVIC: The last four years has seen the Adelaide United Football Club take over the W-League licence from Football SA (the governing body of the game in the state of South Australia) and in that time, they have heavily invested in trying to improve the program and the resources associated with the women’s program.”
What have been the keys to the incredible season that the club have had in the W-League this year?
I think a lot of our younger players have now established themselves as experienced W-League players over the last three or four years and the continuity of our squad. We’ve probably had the smallest turnover from a playing group from last season which has helped, particularly in the current climate.
The club have had the opportunities to make the Finals in the past but never quite made it. This year you won more games than ever in the W-League and came agonisingly close to playing Finals football. What were the keys behind the successes of 2021?
I think off the field we’re progressing in the right direction and every year we’re continuing to add more value and add more resources and top quality staff to the program and the same on the field. We’re certainly heading in the right direction. It’s one of those things that just takes time. It’s been a number of years. You get a group of young players and start to develop them and give them more experience and this group will continue to evolve and develop in seasons beyond.
Adrian Stenta has come in as Head Coach this season, what qualities has he brought to the role?
Adrian is passionate and understands the game really well. He has a fantastic relationship with all of the players and staff. The continuity of him stepping up from the assistant coach role means he knows the players, he knows how the program operates. He’s been there for the last two years and it makes that transition so much easier and it has been shown in the quality of the results that the team have been producing.
There’s an exciting mix of young players and some overseas stars in the squad at the moment. Can you outline the pathway for young girls in South Australia that can end with a place in the Adelaide United first team?
A lot of girls will start out playing with their junior clubs and there’s the programs and pathways through Football SA. We’ve aligned ourselves and will continue to work with Football SA and the NTC (National Training Centre – based in each of the states) program. They will train with our main group to give them that experience from a young age and hopefully they develop into W-League players. Every year the NPLW (elite level state leagues for women players) is increasing in quality and the level which only makes it better for our W-League side. There are plenty of opportunities for the young players these days.
Adding to that, what are the extent of Adelaide United’s links with the SA NPLW?
We work closely with all of the clubs and the coaches. Firstly to ensure that all of the W-League players that are playing in the NPLW are getting the level of training that they need to maintain the standard for the W-League. We have Michele Lastella who is the NTC Women’s Head Coach forming part of our coaching team which basically links our program with the NTC in terms of the message that we are delivering to players. Michele is aware of that and can relay it to the younger players coming through the programs.
The three overseas players – Mallory Weber, Maria Jose Rojas and Maruschka Waldus bring a great deal to the team. How did they come to join Adelaide United?
‘Cote’ (Maria Jose Rojas) is very familiar with South Australia having played and lived here previously. With her it was about timing. She’s been overseas over the past few years and came back to Adelaide in January and started training with the side at the end of last season but we couldn’t sign her due to foreign rulings. ‘Cote’ has been a leading goal scorer in the NPLW here in South Australia for a number of years.
Mallory came to us last year and was last season’s Club Champion. At the end of last season she spoke to me and was very keen on coming back to play for Adelaide United this year, so she really enjoyed her time which speaks volumes of the program that we’ve produced here with overseas players wanting to come back.
Maruschka, similar with ‘Cote’, was a timing thing. We tried to get her last year, but we couldn’t quite make it work with her club overseas. When the opportunity came to get her this year, we didn’t hesitate and she has added some extreme value to the side and a lot of experience and voice to a young group.
There has recently been the departure of Dylan Holmes, who has had an outstanding season, to play Champions League football for newly formed BK Hacken in Sweden. How do you view that whole situation?
It speaks volumes of what we’ve tried to create here at Adelaide United and the program and what we stand for as a club. Dylan has come in and done really well over the last few years having first played for us in 2014 as a teenager and has developed greatly, working really hard – not just when she is here, but in the off season. She’s a fantastic professional and a fantastic person off the field. For us, Dylan getting this opportunity is exciting, it’s something we want to provide that platform for our younger players – to be able to do what Dylan is doing of being able to realise dreams and one day being able to go and play in Europe.
How have you viewed the W-League this season – particularly with the lower number of international players and Matildas taking part this time round?
Yeah, look, I don’t think it is being disrespectful but the level has dropped off a bit and that’s only normal when you lose so many Matildas and quality international players. But what it has done is given a lot of young players opportunities that they would not have been able to get in the past and we’ve seen some break out seasons from players across the league and that will only help the national team moving forward and the league in general.
How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted Adelaide United?
I don’t think it has impacted on us greatly because our side was predominantly local and locally based over the past few years. We’ve worked hard to develop our local players, so from our point of view I don’t think it has affected us at all because our squad has strengthened in the period whereas other teams have lost international players whether it be overseas players or Matildas. The way our club is structured and our philosophy, it didn’t affect us.
How do you see the club’s short to medium term future in the W-League – say over the next five years?
Immediately it is the need to make Finals. I think we are the only W-League club never to have played Finals football, so that was a huge target of ours. We want to provide a platform for young and predominantly South Australian players to be able to step up and play in the W-League and hopefully push on to opportunities overseas and represent their country.
Brisbane Roar 3–0 Newcastle Jets (28/3/21).
By Ben Gilby
In front of a large and vocal crowd at Lions Stadium, the Roar gained the victory that they needed to ensure a home semi-final next weekend.
Brisbane were determined to send off key players Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Gielnik who were off to Sweden with Vittsjö GIK after this game, and they produced a dominant performance to ensure that they got their wish.
The first chance came after just 21 seconds when the Jets’ Tara Andrews got away along the left and cut in. She slipped as she hit an effort goal wards, but Georgina Worth did well to hold it.
Four minutes in and Roar got their first shot away. Kim Carroll played a cross in from the left for Mariel Hecher. The Brazilian born striker didn’t quite connect with her volley attempt and Claire Coehlo held it well in the Jets goal.
The Jets’ promising start continued as they earned a corner a minute later after Rhianna Pollicina found some space down the right and won a corner. She whipped in the flag kick which saw Lauren Allan’s header come crashing back off of the cross bar. Andrews’ followed up led to a scramble which ended with Worth diving on the ball.
The see-saw nature of the opening ten minutes saw Brisbane have the next chance when Tameka Yallop found Isobel Dalton. The Barnsley born, former Nottingham Forest player has been in great form for the Roar this season and her ball in found the head of Gielnik, but Coelho saved.
Another chance came the way of the hosts when Gema Simon shoved Hecher in the back just outside of the box on the right hand side. Dalton’s free kick didn’t concern the Jets defence.
Brisbane were now taking control as the game neared the quarter hour mark. They earned another free-kick on the right hand side when Pollicina fouled Yallop. Dalton’s curling ball in was met by the head of Gielnik who brought a wonderful diving save from Coelho.
Less than sixty seconds later, Coelho was called into action once more. Hecher gained possession on the left hand side of the box and squared to Gielnik. The Matilda got away from Andrews and Taren King before hitting an effort on the turn which Coelho had to palm over the bar.
The Roar’s domination continued. Kaitlyn Torpey played in Yallop down the left with the latter trying to force a shot in from a tight angle on the left which went into the side netting.
With twenty-eight minutes gone, Gielnik found Dalton on the edge of the box and the Yorkshire born defensive midfielder hit an effort narrowly wide of the left hand post. Immediately afterwards, Hecher popped up on the right and squared for Yallop whose effort hit the right hand post and rolled wide.
Jets had a rare opportunity on the half-hour when Rhianna Pollicina got away from Kim Carroll in the midfield and played a ball towards Sunny Franco who was coming in from the right but she couldn’t quite time her run right to connect correctly.
Three minutes later there was a major scramble in the Jets’ six yard box from Jamilla Rankin’s dangerous in swinging corner. Carroll, Torpey and Polkinghorne were all in on Coelho but the Newcastle custodian dived on the ball.
The chances continued to come for the Roar. Five minutes before the half-time whistle, they forced a corner which Hecher took. Coelho palmed it away towards the right, but it quickly came in again towards the back post from Yallop. Gielnik headed back across the box and Torpey couldn’t miss grabbing her first W-League goal. Jets claimed Gielnik was offside, but referee Georgia Ghirardello waved away their protests.
Olivia Chance played a long ball out to Gielnik on the left, but Coelho gathered her effort comfortably.
Just before the break, Polkinghorne released Hecher along the right. She played a quick one-two with Gielnik just inside the box with Hecher’s resulting shot being saved.
Brisbane would be disappointed that their utter dominance had only resulted in a 1-0 lead at the break.
They set about putting that right just two minutes into the re-start when Emily Gielnik scored on her final appearance for the Roar this season. She met Mariel Hecher’s corner with a delightful glancing back header that left Claire Coelho with no chance.
Hecher came close once more as Brisbane continued to turn the screw when her long range power blaster smashed off of the bar.
The Brazilian finally got the goal that her endeavours deserved with ten minutes left when substitute Leticia McKenna’s corner was met by Polkinghorne’s head and Hecher redirected it into the Jets net.
At one stage this season, Brisbane looked red hot favourites to clinch not just top spot but a Grand Final success too. Crucially, they have claimed a home semi-final, but any hopes of progression now must come without two of the brightest stars of their season in Clare Polkinghorne and Emily Gielnik. If the Queenslanders lift the W-League trophy a fortnight today, they will certainly have earned it.
For the Jets, it was the last game of a frustrating season. One which has not seen them earn the results and the ladder position that some of their performances have deserved.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Heatley, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Dalton, Hecher, Chance, Torpey, Gielnik, Yallop. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Crummer, Horsey, Margraf, McKenna.
Scorers: Torpey 41, Gielnik 47, Hecher 81.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Jaber, O’Brien, Pollicina, Davis, Andrews, Allan, Franco. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Bass, Petratos, Harding, House.
Referee: Georgia Ghirardello.
|Western Sydney Wanderers||12||4||1||7||13||21||13||-8|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Melbourne Victory 6–0 Perth Glory (28/3/21).
By Kieran Yap
It was another round of mini finals in the Dub this weekend when Melbourne Victory hosting Perth in search of a win to secure their finals place.
They named an unchanged line-up against a Glory side that had held them to a one-goal win two weeks ago and Perth were hoping to improve on that performance to send Kat Jukic off in style in her retirement game.
The opening stages of the match were closely contested with all the pressure on the home side and Perth looked to have an early goal to celebrate when Hana Lowry bundled the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the visitors the young midfielder had been judged to have fouled Gabby Garton and the goal was contentiously disallowed.
Victory soon clicked into gear, Lisa De Vanna ran onto a long ball behind the defence and looked to be clear in on goal before losing her footing and Annalie Longo threatened on multiple occasions, getting on to the end of crosses from De Vanna and Amy Jackson but unable to beat Lily Alfeld in the Perth goal.
Kyra Cooney-Cross was next to be denied by the goalkeeper with a curling left foot strike from distance tipped over the bar, Glory were holding on, but it looked like the floodgates were straining.
The opening goal came soon after, Angie Beard tore past her opponent on the left flank and whipped in a low cross that was met emphatically by Melina Ayres in the six-yard box, Alfeld had no chance at stopping the goal, the pace on the cross and the timing of Ayres run was perfect, the finish might have been the easiest part though it was very well taken.
Ayres doubled her tally minutes later when De Vanna’s shot from deep was spilled by Alfeld, the striker reacted quickest and got to the ball before any defender to slide it under the scrambling goalkeeper to make it 2-0 before half time.
The onslaught continued in the second forty-five, Kyra Cooney-Cross won a corner with persistence on the left and swung the ball into the six yard box where Claudia Bunge leapt to head to ball into the net, it was 3-0 and Victory were in cruise control.
To their credit, as they have done all season, Glory did not take a backwards step, they kept trying to score and keep the ball with no inclination to park the bus, they had come to play football and Hana Lowry typified that attitude with a stinging shot on target that Gabby Garton was equal to. If Perth can keep getting Lowry into scoring positions or facing goal with the ball more often she could do a lot of damage to teams next season.
Victory had no intention of resting on their lead and the returning Catherine Zimmerman made it 4-0 after Cooney-Cross’s first time shot bounced off the crossbar and the American recruit was able to control it and slide it home.
On the hour mark the dominant Cooney-Cross scored one for herself, the ball dropped to her just inside the penalty area, with a sumptuous first touch she cushioned it down with her left foot and with her second she shifted it into space with her right, she finished into the bottom corner to make it 5-0 with a well-placed finish beyond Alfeld.
Victory and especially Cooney-Cross were not yet finished, on the seventy-sixth minute, she raced onto a long ball on the left wing and with no teammates in the middle she charged straight at goal. As she neared the target Alfeld stood her ground, forcing Cooney-Cross into a decision, she elected to go with raw power this time and hit the ball with fury right over Alfeld’s head, crashing it into the net. She struck it venomously, like the ball had somehow personally offended her and wheeled away all smiles in celebration. It was 6-0 and the rising star had two goals and two assists.
Cooney-Cross was the dominant player in an imperious display by Melbourne Victory, as the game neared the end it looked like the only way to stop her at full flight was by simply grabbing her shirt but the whole Victory team was in frightening form and even the usually demanding Jeff Hopkins looked to be having fun when Natalie Martineau narrowly missed a chance to score when her header hit the post following another Cooney-Cross delivery.
The game ended 6-0 and Melbourne jumped from fifth to seconf on the table with a chance to finish top of the league with a win in their final match. This game was a warning to the rest of the competition and they look to be hitting their best form at the right time.
Perth Glory have endured probably the most difficult season in W-League history, due to their geographical isolation and the restrictions due to COVID-19 they were unable to play games early in the season and their hastily assembled squad struggled to find rhythm. Despite this they began every game attempting to win or at least take the game to the opposition. There are some quality young players in their line-up and they were unlucky to lose Gemma Craine to injury so early in their campaign. They should be admired for the way they approached the year and hopefully with better preparation and minus a pandemic they can look forward to a better 2022.
Victory play Sydney FC in just three days in what could be the biggest game of the season so far as a premier decider and a potential grand final preview. It will be a titanic encounter and a wonderful way to end the W-League regular rounds.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Longo, Ayres, Cooney-Cross, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis, Zimmerman.
Scorers: Ayres 21, 35. Bunge 48. Zimmerman 53. Cooney-Cross 60, 76.
PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Anton, Wallhead, Steinmetz, Lowry, Morgan, Jukic, McKenna, Charalambous. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Carroll, Doeglas, Moreno, Tabain.
Referee: Rebecca Mackie.
Canberra United 0–0 Sydney FC (28/3/21).
Match report and EXCLUSIVE photos by Kris Goman at Viking Park.
Friday night football at Viking Park in Canberra will figure out who’s going to the finals and who’s staying home. This is a key match for both teams. If Sydney win, it will clinch the premiership. If Canberra United win, it guarantees them a place in the final series so there’s plenty at stake for both teams.
Canberra have never lost at Viking Park and it’s pretty certain they don’t want to start now. The combinations and permutations of the possible outcomes of the last round matches means the finals are still well open and impossible to predict.
What unfolds is a war without a victor. There are plenty of battles and minor skirmishes that are fought and won. Ground is gained and lost but the battlements are never conquered and each goal remains unsullied by the passage of the opposition’s ball. It unfolds thus:
Sydney kick off and the game is pretty even and all over the field until Satchell drives down the right towards Ally Green and then passes to Maher on her left at the top of the box. Grace Maher snaps a shot away but Jada Mathyssen-Wyman has it under control despite Michelle Heyman hovering.
When Canberra sends a ball back to Keeley Richards to reset, the clearance goes straight to Remy Siemsen. She passes to Wheeler who lobs the ball over Richards and it bounces into goal but Wheeler is offside so it doesn’t count. This was a great attack by Sydney and very unlucky for Wheeler who was just caught offside by the defence stepping up to Siemsen.
The action switched to the other end shortly afterwards. Natasha Prior sends a ball back to Mathyssen-Whyman. The Sydney keeper looked to be ready for it but her first touch sent the ball a few metres in front of her and Heyman came up a bit faster than she expected. The ball went out for a goal kick and Mathyssen-Whyman wasn’t happy with Prior despite really caused the problem herself.
Back at the other end, some smart passing from Princess Ibini to Siemsen to Teresa Polias to Mackenzie Hawkesby around the top of the box sees a lob from Hawkesby bounce to the keeper. Richards is prone on the ground but loses possession briefly and Polias comes in to get the rebound just as she gathers it back but it sends Polias toppling over her to avoid kicking her.
Probably the best attack of the game is created by a great ball through by Paige Satchell out to Nikki Flannery on the left wing who immediate sent it back to Bianca Galic who drives to the box. The ball bouncing out of the tackle is picked up by Hughes who manages to get it out to Heyman who is unmarked on the right in the box. She gets a completely clear shot on goal and pounds it above the head of Mathyssen-Whyman. But the Sydney keeper gets her hand to it and tips it over the goal safely.
Canberra continue to show a bit more initiative when Maher picks up a Satchell pass and takes a long range shot from about 10 metres from the top of the box. It just skims the crossbar but looked very dangerous.
Polias intercepts and chips a ball for Siemsen but Siemsen is marginally offside and she wouldn’t have beaten Richards to it anyway.
After a Canberra free kick is cleared, Vine brings the ball up most of the field in an inspired run. She gets it to Siemsen who is mobbed but gets it back to Hawkesby who passes out to Ibini on the left and is in the clear. The defence rush to cover but she’s able to get it onto her right foot and take a decent shot at goal. It’s just over the crossbar and sails clear.
Courtnee Vine goes down in the top right corner after landing heavily on her knee. She gets treatment and is taken off and comes back on to only go down again in a bit of pain by the looks of things. She’s walking OK but something’s obviously not right. She is replaced by Taylor Ray in the 36th minute. A good six minutes after the original injury.
Ray has an immediate impact when she gets a pass away to Siemsen in the clear and facing the right direction. Siemsen takes a good shot but is leaning back just a touch and the ball is over the crossbar. Sydney’s on target shots are severely lacking at the moment and Richards hasn’t really been tested yet.
In the dying minutes of the first half, Keir sends a beautifully weighted long ball to Heyman in the box to head towards goal. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough on it and Mathyssen-Whyman picked it up easily and the half-time whistle goes.
A reasonably even first half, but Canberra’s chances looked more exciting and dangerous. Most of their shots were on target and Mathyssen-Whyman had to make a couple of difficult saves. Richards at the other end has been rarely tested.
Straight back into it in the second half and Canberra get an unrealised chance when Heyman receives the ball and passes to Maher on the right. She runs onto it in the clear but instead of shooting, controls the ball, which gives Sydney time to recover and surround her. She ends up passing to Laura Hughes while Heyman stands in the box with her arms outstretched. Hughes shoots to the top left corner to make Mathyssen-Whyman stretch but stretch she does and it’s safely in the gloves.
Fighting straight back again, Fletcher passes to Galic from halfway and then she gets it back to Maher. Maher is not making the same mistake this time and crosses to Heyman on her favoured left foot. Heyman does a diving header and the ball ricochets off the right goal post.
In the clearance, Sydney gets the ball to Charlotte Mclean out on the right. Siemsen is at the top of the box with her back to goal and heads it down and back to Hawkesby whose shot is blocked by Fletcher. Fletcher has been doing a lot of hard work like this throughout the match and nullifying a lot of the Sydney attack before it can start.
A few minutes later, the second best Canberra opportunity presented itself when Lauren Keir lobbed a wonderful ball over the Sydney defence for Heyman to run onto. Heyman is completely in the clear with Mathyssen-Whyman coming out of goal to her. The ball is bouncing and Heyman sensibly tries to chip it over the fast closing Wyman. She succeeds in this but it’s just wide of goal and goes out instead of in the net.
Moments later Sydney are back on the attack. The ball comes out to McLean on the right and she crosses back to the centre of the pitch to Ibini who is running onto the ball at speed. At the same time Kendall Fletcher has anticipated where the ball will land and is waiting for it. Ibini collides with Fletcher, knocks her to the ground then lands on top of her. Fletcher is winded and takes her time to recover and get back up.
Just after 60 minutes, Sydney starts a press and are in and around the box for an extended period. It becomes frustrating when Siemsen is in the box and gets the ball on two occasions but has her back to goal and passes back out of the box instead of turning and shooting. It feels like she’s on defensive duties for Canberra. Taylor Ray is doing all the work here, running around, sending the ball through ingeniously only to have it returned to her. Eventually Wheeler lobs it and Ibini jumps up to try to head it but its a little high to control it properly and it’s out to the left of goal.
Just after the hour mark, Satchell runs the ball through the midfield. She’s been making good ground all evening and has been one of the standouts on the field. Natasha Prior’s slide tackle on her is cleared to Maher who strikes. It lands at the feet of Mathyssen-Whyman and she’s able to pick it up with no troubles.
Both Siemsen and Fletcher cramp up at 74 minutes in. Flannery is helping Siemsen stretch out.
Sydney launch another attack through Ray who passes to Ibini, who gets it out Lowe on the right. She flicks it back to Ibini who brings it up the centre and slides a great pass through to Siemsen but Siemsen is offside and her rather soft shot was well anticipated and controlled by Richards.
A little one-two by Wheeler and Lowe sees Wheeler dribble the ball upfield through the centre. Siemsen is to her left but about ten metres out from the box she takes a long range shot. It’s on target but straight into the waiting arms of Richards.
When Maher takes a run towards goal, she passes out to Flannery on the left who returns it to Maher when she has few options. Maher kicks it towards the box and Tobin heads it down to the feet of the waiting Heyman. She flicks it right, across to Taylor-Young. Her return pass to Heyman is intercepted by Prior, who had been particularly solid in defence all night. The clearance goes to Koulizakis who decides to shoot. There’s a lot of power but all in the wrong direction as the shot goes skyward and well clear of the goal.
Canberra launch another attack that sees substitute Demi Koulizakis trying to shoot and being foiled before Heyman receives a throw in, turns and snaps a shot off low to the near post. There’s some fire in it and it bounces out of Mathyssen-Whyman hands but she recovers and pulls it in.
Canberra get a very late corner but it’s cleared by Prior as three extra minutes of time are announced. The tension is building and the crowd is chanting for Canberra. Canberra seem happy to take the point and Sydney probably won’t complain about it either so both teams are all about their defence at the moment as either team letting a goal in will ruin their party.
Canberra are taking it to the corner at this stage to protect that point. Whilst in the corner, Canberra concede a foul and then Flannery gets a yellow for complaining about it and wasting time. The final whistle goes and Canberra celebrate like they won. And really they did as they only needed a point to make the finals and it’s a fresh start from there. A nil all draw makes it less clear for Sydney as to whether they get the premiership or not. They were always in the finals but they are going to need to step up from the performance of this match if they want to make the Grand Final.
Both teams were very solid in defence but Sydney’s attack was wanting. Siemsen looked disconnected and seemed to be facing the wrong way and sending balls backwards rather than forwards most of the game. Ibini was more involved than she often is but dropped back a bit so had more work in defence in the midfield to do but when she came up she was often threatening. Ray was good in making ground and getting passes though.
For Canberra, Heyman got some very good shots in and made Mathyssen-Whyman earn her keep. Maher also looked dangerous on many occasions and the Canberra shots on goal were seven compared to one for Sydney. And that’s probably the key statistic of the match as most others were pretty even.
Kendall Fletcher got player of the match but it could have just as easily have been Natasha Prior for Sydney as it was the defence of both teams that was most important. Satchell also had a great game and a lot of impact.
So now we wait on the results of the last two games of this final round and the delayed match from the previous round between Sydney and Melbourne Victory to know exactly who will contest the finals and where.
Teams: CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Ilijoski, Nash, Fletcher, Galic, Maher, Hughes, Heyman, Flannery, Satchell. Substitutes: Jones (GK), Grove, Foletta, Koulizakis, Taylor-Young.
SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Green, Tobin, Prior, Polias, Wheeler, Hawkesby, Siemsen, Ibini, Vine. Substitutes: Offer (GK) Hristodoulou, Lowe, Ray, Toby.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
Melbourne City 2–1 Perth Glory (28/3/21).
By Ben Gilby
Melbourne City ended their disappointing campaign on a winning note with a 2-1 win over a game young Perth Glory outfit at Frank Holohan Reserve in Dandenong.
The game marked 28 year-old Melbourne City striker Rhali Dobson’s final appearance after 109 games to support her partner who has brain cancer and made a post match marriage proposal to her in emotional scenes. She was also on the scoresheet for City in a storybook ending to her career.
In contrast to last weekend’s clash between the two sides in Western Australia, the game opened in end to end style, but similarly to that match, it was pretty physical at times.
With five minutes gone, some good play down the left by Tyla-Jay Vlajnic resulted in a cross to Leah Davidson who fired an effort narrowly over the bar.
Perth responded with character. Deborah-Ann De La Harpe became more of a threat along the left and combined well with teenage star Hana Lowry in the central midfield position. Her glorious angled ball out to Tijan McKenna saw the 16 year-old take a touch and her fierce shot was just wide.
Another of Glory’s youngsters, 18 year-old Isabella Wallhead was putting in arguably her best shift of the campaign, biting at the ankles of Dobson to prevent her raids.
It was still Vlajnic who was at the heart of the most dangerous action City were producing. She danced her way down the left with a quarter of an hour played and hit another shot which was just wide.
Wallhead again got the better of Dobson after Vlajnic played in a teasing ball from the left. The Western Australian youngster ensured she got there before Dobson could slide on to the end of the cross.
The first corner of the game came in the twenty-first minute when Lowry’s shot was deflected away. From the resulting ball in, Lowry had two more shots on goal in quick succession. If Glory captain Tash Rigby could have stuck out a foot after the teenager’s second attempt, it could easily have been diverted into the net.
Glory have never been quite the same side coming forward since the devastating early season injury to Gemma Craine. The English striker had come into the season in great scoring form for Fremantle City in the WA NPLW and was looking very dangerous for Perth in their opening two games.
After the hour mark, chances became slightly fewer and farther between as the importance of the first goal became to become ever more apparent.
With five minutes until half-time, Melbourne City missed a catalogue of chances in quick succession as the Perth Glory penalty area resembled a pinball machine. Alex Chidiac’s effort rebounded off of Wallhead to Chinatsu Kira, but Perth keeper Lily Alfeld smothered her effort straight into the path of Dobson. Her shot came back off Isabella Wallhead again and fell to Chidiac who was denied by yet another block from Wallhead.
Despite a highly eventful first forty-five minutes, the score line remained 0-0.
Caitlin Doeglas, who has been in good form for the visitors over recent weeks was finally seen in an attacking mode at the start of the second half when she showed her pace down the right and got an effort away which forced a save from Melissa Barbieri in the Melbourne City goal.
Doeglas caused more problems along the right in this period, but Perth were unable to capitalise.
Melbourne City came close on the hour mark with Vlajnic getting away again down the wing. Her fierce effort was just wide of the left hand post.
A sustained period of pressure began from City with a dangerous low ball into the box cleared brilliantly by Glory striker Alexia Moreno at the cost of a corner with sixty-three minutes played. Kira played the resulting flag kick into the box. Rhali Dobson’s header across the area was not responded to quickly enough by Glory and Tori Tumeth was able to play a back heel across the box which Dobson was able to hit home – a wonderful way to commemorate her final game.
The pressure continued to grow on Glory. Chidiac was played in by Dobson, but just as she was about to get a shot away, McKenna put in a crucial tackle at the cost of a corner. From Chidiac’s delivery Emma Checker’s effort rebounded off of the right hand post into the arms of Alfeld in the Perth goal.
With twenty minutes to go, Marianna Tabain came on for Perth Glory for her hundredth appearance. Shortly after this, Sarah Carroll, who also came on for the Western Australians at the same time, conceded a free kick to the right of centre about ten metres outside of the box. Vlajnic’s effort just bounced wide of the right hand post.
After seventy-five minutes, an emotional Rhali Dobson was substituted to a great ovation from the crowd on her final appearance in women’s football. It was the final chapter of a wonderful career of a great player who has been a real driving force in positive change for the sport.
Melbourne City wrapped the points with ten minutes to play when a poor clearance from Alfeld in the Perth goal gave possession to Kira on the right. The Japanese international laid off a square ball to Harriet Withers on the edge of the box. In turn, she found Alex Chidiac who took a touch to see off the efforts of Tash Rigby and Liz Anton and fire a shot into the net.
From the re-start, Kira was able to crash in another shot which Alfeld grabbed above her head.
The vast majority of the remaining ten minutes was played inside the Perth half, but despite the fierce pressure, the home side could not add to their tally.
Instead, Glory were rewarded for their determination by grabbing a consolation in stoppage time at the end of the game. Marianna Tabain turned Sarah Cain in midfield and played a superb chipped ball through into the path of substitute Patricia Charalambous. The 26 year-old striker hit a great first time effort into the far corner.
Melbourne City started the season as defending champions and with a squad that, whilst not as star-studded as the 2019/20 version, on paper still looked well capable of playing Finals football. It has been far from a vintage season for the Sky Blues and ending it with three straight wins does not gloss over what a poor return it has been for them.
Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby reflected on the game saying: “We really gave it to them last time we played them and went out to eliminate their structure. They have a strong three at the back, so we were looking to press really high and that worked in the first half. It was definitely a better performance than last weekend. We’re looking to improve every week.”
Alex Epakis’ side have one more chance to gain that all important first win of the season, but it comes away to a Melbourne Victory side who will be looking for a win to confirm a place in the Finals.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Barbieri, Vlajnic, Checker, Johnson, Thomas-Chinnama, Tumeth, Hoelsbrekken-Eckhoff, Dobson, Davidson, Kira, Chidiac. Substitutes: Varley (GK), Withers, Sardo, Muldeary, Cain.
Scorers: Dobson 63, Chidiac 79.
PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Anton, Wallhead, Lowry, Steinmetz, Morgan, Moreno, Doeglas, McKenna Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Carroll, Charalambous, Jukic, Tabain.
Scorer: Charalambous 90+5.
Referee: Kate Jacewicz.
After a long term injury, Western Sydney Wanderers’ Georgia Yeoman-Dale is back and put in some impressive displays in the W-League this season. Ben Gilby profiles the 26 year-old whose ability to play at right back and as an attacking midfielder could aid her chances of a Matildas recall (27/3/21).
It’s been a long road back to action for Georgia Yeoman-Dale. Prior to this season, she had played only seven matches since 2018, but a series of strong performances in a Western Sydney Wanderers side who had a great second half of the season this year to proves she is well on her way to getting back to her best.
Yeoman-Dale missed eighteen months due to a bone lesion on her shin which also led to a stress fracture on her ankle. Yet originally it didn’t seem anywhere near so serious. Indeed, Yeoman-Dale played and trained on for a while before succumbing to an injury that ultimately also cost her a potential place in the Matildas squad for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and forced to sit on the side lines as her club made their first ever Finals berth in 2019/20.
During the spell, she was warned that she may never play again, something which Yeoman-Dale admits she found it tough to accept, and took several weeks out of recovery in order to gather the mental strength required to come back.
That time stood her in good stead and after playing for APIA Leichhardt in the New South Wales NPLW (state league for women’s football), she was ready to make her W-League return with Western Sydney Wanderers.
The serious injury that kept Yeoman-Dale out for eighteen months was preceded by another one which came under the heading of “freak accidents” when a collision of heads with Kim Carroll in a game against Perth Glory saw her end up with a deep scar reminiscent of something from a Harry Potter novel and needed twenty-one stitches to fix.
Whilst not able to play last season, Yeoman-Dale was kept involved at Wanderers and was impressed by the club’s new Centre of Football in Blacktown which includes three elite pitches specifically for the club’s women’s, men’s and academy teams. “It’s the best I’ve played in the W-League,” she observed.
Yeoman-Dale’s footballing career began in the Australian Capital Territory at Majura FC before beginning her W-League career with Canberra United as a seventeen year-old and over the course of three seasons in the capital city, she clocked up twenty-eight appearances and scored four goals – a period during which she won the first of her five caps for the Matildas and was part of a Canberra squad which won the W-League once and were premiers on another occasion. Her most recent call-up came in 2017 for Australia’s internationals against Brazil in Penrith and Newcastle.
It was to Newcastle Jets that Yeoman-Dale moved in 2014 when she joined the Jets from Canberra United in search of more regular football. “I still consider myself quite young in the game and I’m still growing and trying to develop myself as a player,” she said at the time.
Two seasons at the club saw Yeoman-Dale play twenty-one times and score one goal before Sydney FC came calling. It was a period which saw the club make two Grand Finals and Yeoman-Dale make a further twenty-seven appearances.
In time for the 2018/19 season, Yeoman-Dale joined several other players in making the move across Sydney to Western Sydney Wanderers following Dan Barrett’s appointment as head coach. Of the move at the time, she said: ”I think I’ve chosen the right way. As soon as you see an ex-Sydney FC coach moving over to the Wanderers, players like myself who enjoyed playing for him makes the decision a little bit harder.
”I’m really excited about joining the Wanderers, it’s my fourth club now but it’s the right move at the moment.”
The serious injuries may have curtailed Yeoman-Dale’s hopes of making an immediate impact at the club, but the signs this season suggest she is about to make up for lost time.
For our latest #MidweekDub feature, Ben Gilby spoke to Claire Taylor, Amanda Wetzel, Bekki Spratford, and Jess Kolbas of W-Jets Active, the Newcastle Jets W-League supporters group about their passion for the club, what’s been going on in Newcastle in recent times and how they view this current campaign. (24/3/21).
Amanda, Claire, Bekki, and Jess all met at the last Newcastle Jets W-League home game of the 2018/19 season. The group got chatting in the stands after the game realised that they were all going to France to follow the Matildas’ Women’s World Cup journey.
They take up the story: “In France, we all became involved in the Matildas Active Support. It was an electrifying and unifying experience that we wanted to bring home to Newcastle. We set up the W-Jets Active in the weeks before the 2019/2020 season began and within the first week, we’d hit the 100+ mark, and the community was already forming. The momentum that followed showed us there was an enthusiasm for support specifically for the Jets’ W-League side, especially for our home-grown heroes.”
“We approached the club, and they were incredibly supportive. They’ve offered their services whenever needed, made sure we could be visible and noisy at home games and even the away games that we could get to, and have helped us keep the community connected to the players in so many ways that go unnoticed.”
“This is our second official season on Active Duty, and we’re loving how broad and diverse this community has become. Not everyone wants to be on the front line chanting, but there is a depth of support from home and afar. Our mission is simply to make sure the team knows that and to make the game day experience enjoyable for everyone, regardless of the final score.”
That brought us perfectly on to the topic of what a typical match day for the W-Jets Active looks like.
“Great question! It’s a busy day for us. It usually kicks off on game day eve, where we make sure our socials are pointing everyone in the right direction for tickets and pre-game meetups. This is followed up on the morning of the game with info about where and how to watch – in the stands or at home. We also like to get a bit of banter and buzz going on the player’s own game day posts or through our stories.”
“It’s tradition to meet up in a pub nearby pre-game, and we can’t ignore the hospitality that the Commonwealth Hotel and Sunnyside Tavern have always provided before and after home games at Number Two Sportsground and McDonald Jones Stadium, respectively. These tend to range between ten and twenty-five people, depending on several factors. Everyone is welcome – we can’t stress that enough.”
“As soon as the gates open, we’re there setting up our banners, flags, scarves, and the drum. This year, the club has given us designated Active Support bays at both Number Two Sportsground and McDonald Jones Stadium. We like to warm up with the team, with a few pre-game drumming and chanting to lift the energy.”
“From kick-off we live the game with the team – the highs and lows, the ins and outs – right until the final whistle blows. It’s not our aim to make 90 minutes of non-stop noise. Rather, we try to build on the energy and bring the crowd with us when the team needs it most.”
“After the game, we always stick around while the players warm down. This usually gives us a chance to chat with them, and for the little ones to get signatures on their hats and jerseys. Our team are very generous with their time. And, quite often, then we’ll head back to the pub to celebrate or commiserate, depending on the outcome.”
The W-League this season is very different from recent years with fewer internationals, lots of young stars and many new players coming in. I asked the W-Jets Active group how things were from their perspective.
“For us, it’s kind of business as usual. We’ve had a few well-loved internationals in recent seasons but have really relied on our home-grown talent. In some ways, we’re actually the W-League’s feeder team – with younger emerging players often signing for other teams or heading over overseas after a season or two. You saw that very clearly before the start of this season with so many departures from our squad making up deficits in teams that had previously relied on players from overseas.”
“This has definitely opened up opportunities for younger talent to step up into the W-League. So far, it’s proven to make for a much more competitive league – anything could happen on any given game day. I think, over time, this can only add to the depth on offer for our Matildas squad.”
“In terms of new faces ourselves, we had a lot of new players joining our existing legends this season. It was definitely an establishment phase feeling to the start of the campaign, with several new players making their W-League debut and a new-but-well-known-to-us coach, Ash Wilson. It was clear by game two that we could ask a lot of questions of our opponents, and it’s been great watching the team dynamics really shine.”
“We’ve played some excellent football this season but haven’t got the points or ladder position to show for it, but it has to be said, there’s a buzz about the team this year. Ash recruited well, and every new player ‘fits’ the club’s brand of football – staying connected to the community and bringing a never-give-up attitude to each game. That’s what makes them so easy to support through ups and downs. They don’t give up, so neither do we.”
The group’s assertion that the Jets’ performances have not earned the results that that it could have done is one we at Impetus would certainly agree with having seen the majority of the team’s games this season. I wondered who in particular had stood out for the fans this season?
“Every player has had a standout moment so far this season.
Tara Andrews’ four goals in the first four games was exhilarating, and we loved being able to celebrate her hundredth game with the club at Cromer Park away to Sydney FC. She’s Newcastle through-and-through, a role model to so many of those coming up through the ranks, and absolute asset to the team.”
“Lauren Allan’s brace in Round Five against Western Sydney Wanderers was an absolutely joyous moment as well. She’s such a quiet achiever. She exudes a team mentality – poised to strike when needed but also ready to assist or elevate others when that’s right, too.”
“Sunny ‘Sunnybadger’ Franco and Rhianna ‘Mini’ Pollicina are both a joy to watch on the ball. Their hunger and drive make for such entertaining football. We were delighted to see Mini bag her first goal in Round Seven, staying so composed as she chipped it over the head of Gaby Garton. We were delighted to Sunny break her drought against Perth Glory. She deserved to finally be rewarded for all the great chances she creates.”
Jets’ start to the season came with the backdrop of growing uncertainty over the ownership of the club. In early January, the club CEO Lawrie McKinna announced that owner Martin Lee had not put any money into the club for at least fourteen months. Consequently the club appeared to be in debt and a group of A-League (Australian men’s top tier) investors had taken over the running of the club for the short term. I asked the supporters group how this had impacted on the club.
“The impact of the uncertainty around our ownership, and the lack of investment in the club from its owner, really can’t be underestimated. It shook every level of the club, all the way through to the players. We started our season running on the smell of an oily rag, and a lot of people were certain we simply wouldn’t have a season at all.”
“The commitment of those within the Jets, especially those behind the scenes, really needs to be applauded. They held the club together with support from the community at large, several loyal sponsors, and their own blood and tears.”
“The stability provided by this interim ownership model was such a relief. With the Women’s World Cup coming in 2023, it’s critical that we continue to have a W-League to showcase what we have to offer. This guarantees that the Jets will be able to maintain those pathways for our region. We have such a rich football history, which deserves to be recognised at the professional level.”
On top of everything else the club has had to deal with, there has also been the coronavirus pandemic. Australia’s international borders have been closed for over a year now and that does not look like changing for a long time to come. Ever changing state border restrictions have also had a major impact on signings and match schedules. I asked the group how the situation had specifically impacted on Newcastle Jets.
“Let’s not overlook the impact of the fixture changes – we’re on version ten of our season calendar now! It is inconvenient from a fan perspective, but it’s been close to unmanageable for the players. Despite being professional footballers, W-League players typically have primary jobs or study commitments. Juggling these is hard enough in a predictable season, but the last-minute leave requests, possibility of unexpected quarantine, uncertainty around accepting shifts, or missing classes is a tough and unreasonable ask. This highlights the need for policies to move us into a fully professional league.”
“In the stands, it has definitely changed attendance. Not only in numbers, but in the whole fan experience. The club bent over backwards to make sure that we could still come together as an Active group with distanced seat allocations in the same bay, so we did what we could to provide a visible presence. But we couldn’t make the same level of noise at the start of the season because chanting and drumming were banned and masks had to be worn in the stands. We were just incredibly grateful to be able to attend home games!”
“That said, it feels like more people tuned in from home, and as a result started to demand a lot more in terms of the quality of broadcasting for W-League games. This is definitely the season where W-League fans took to their socials to call out the inequalities and demand better. We still have a long way to go, but the more people involved in the movement for change, the better.”
As our discussion moved towards its conclusion, I wanted to discover what the W-Jets Active group think the short term future is like for the W-League.
“Football Australia obviously have a lot of work to do before 2023. That’s going to require investment in the women’s game before and after the World Cup. This event will shine a light on Australia’s women’s football league from around the world, so it’s time to really live the values we’ve hearing about for years.”
“A full home and away season has been talked about for too long – it’s time for action. Along with a clear plan to make the W-League fully professional. There also needs to be investment at grassroots level, with clearer pathways for girls to progress into the professional league domestically.”
“Stepping up the supporter experience also needs to be a part of this. That means easier access to accurate information about how to attend games or watch from home. Designated home grounds for W-League teams! We know how much our W-Jets prefers playing at Number Two Sportsground, and the atmosphere it allows can be a game changer. And quality broadcasting, with pre-game commentary, replays, half-time analysis, and commentators who can pronounce our player’s names should be on the agenda immediately (we got you, Coehlo!)”
Adelaide United 3–1 Western Sydney Wanderers (21/3/21).
By Kieran Yap
In front of W-League record 5,159 fans, Adelaide United faced Western Sydney with plenty to play for, to keep their finals hopes alive they needed a win and to hope Canberra drop points against Sydney FC next week. For the Wanderers, this season is ending a little too soon having enjoyed some of their best form in recent weeks.
All of the pressure was on the Reds and in the early stages it showed, the home side began nervously, unable to maintain possession and seemed to lack composure defensively and they were punished by Oliva Price who hit her shot home low and hard after a corner kick spilled to her on the edge of the box. Although Sian Fryer-McLaren in goal was able to react and get a hand to the ball, it had enough power to roll past her and into the net. It was not the start Adelaide would have wanted but if there was a silver lining it was that it had happened early.
The recovery began immediately and in the eighteenth minute, Isabel Hodgson delighted the crowd with fantastic equalizer. Mallory Weber was fed the ball out wide and accelerated past her opponent to make room for a cross to the back post. Hodgson met the ball and calmly took it down before side footing it into the bottom corner to level the scores. She celebrated as emphatically as she’d scored, this was a final for Adelaide in anything but name.
The Reds had gone into the game without the departed Dylan Holmes and the injured Chelsie Dawber and half way through the half things got even tougher for the home side. The electrifying fullback Charlotte Grant pulled up while racing Teigan Collister for a loose ball, she collapsed to the ground holding her hamstring and in visible distress. Laura Johns replaced her off the bench, but in the form Grant has been in recently, this was a potential blow to Adelaide.
While Collister was proving the biggest threat to Adelaide with her direct style and dangerous crossing, Maria Jose Rojas was putting on a show in typical style, delighting the crowd with the familiar tricks, flicks and sidesteps even if the final ball for both was sometimes agonizingly short of perfect.
As the half came to a close Adelaide looked to be in the ascendancy, Emily Hodgson stormed forward from right back, bursting into the area and sending in a low cross toward two Adelaide players, Sarah Willacy cut it off with a sure handed save to ensure the Wanderers went into the break level.
When the game resumed, Adelaide continued their assault on the Wanderers defence, buoyed by the possibility of finals and encouraged by the carnival-like atmosphere the crowd provided they went in search of a winner.
Lauren Jones who had deputized well for Grant, combined down the flank with Weber to once again set up Isabel Hodgson at the back post, this time the short missed the target.
Weber threatened the score line again minutes later when Willacy rushed a clearance under pressure from Fiona Worts. The ball fell to the Reds captain who struck it on target and forced Willacy to tip it wide.
Adelaide were rewarded for their repeated attacks when they took the lead through their centre-back Maruscka Waldus. An Emily Condon corner found her unmarked in the six yard box and she buried the header before sprinting in a celebration that included every outfield player and the entire Adelaide bench.
It was a well-placed corner kick, too far away for the goalkeeper to claim easily and close enough that Waldus only needed to direct it home, Western Sydney will be unhappy that she was unmarked but it was a fine goal nonetheless.
In response, the Wanderers sent on their experienced striker Leena Khamis, her impact was instantly noticeable after she beat Matilda McNamara to a long ball and lifted it over Fryer-McLaren, unfortunately it bounced off the top of the goal harmlessly, but it was a warning to Adelaide that the game was not yet over.
With less than 30 minutes to play Fiona Worts extended the lead for The Reds. A intelligently taken free kick was played low to the edge of the box, Waldus met the ball and hooked it towards goal the shot bobbled against players packed into the defence but fell kindly to Worts who picked her spot and buried it home to make it 3-1.
Both sides were unlucky not to add to the score line as the match wore on. Weber somehow crashed a shot off the inside off the post and Isabel Hodgson looked stunned not too have extended the lead after shooting from point blank range, only to be denied by a terrific reflex save from Willacy. Up the other end Sarah Hunter nearly provided a spectacular reply when she hooked the ball over her shoulder in a sort of standing bicycle kick that only just flew wide.
Fryer-McLaren kept any Wanderers attacks at back, coming out to cleanly and confidently collect some dangerous balls in, particularly from Copus-Brown’s consistently impressive set piece ability. It was a great way to end the match from a goalkeeper who had begun the afternoon in near-nightmare fashion and she had recovered well to play a major part in the win.
Adelaide have done all they can at this point to qualify for finals, they have had their best season by any measure and recorded the biggest W-League crowd in history. Their contributions to the competition for the regular season have been wonderful and coach Adrian Stenta may have even unearthed a few future Matildas, if their season continues beyond next week, they will have made history with their first finals appearance.
This is the last we will see of Western Sydney for the 2020/21 campaign and after a rocky start due to an almost entirely new squad, they eventually found their groove and began to play some exciting football. Coach Dean Heffernan put his faith in young players and prioritized developing new talent over grinding out results, the emergence of Sarah Hunter and Bryleeh Henry as rising talents will be particularly memorable for fans of the club as both teenagers announced themselves with braces and performances that bode well for the future. The move of Libby Copus-Brown into a deep lying playmaker role got the best out of her and some of her sharp turns and long raking passes were top class. Hopefully Heffernan can keep the core of this side together, the class of ’21 is an exciting bunch.
Its goodbye and thank you to Western Sydney for now and maybe a “see ya soon?” to Adelaide United. What a wonderful end to their regular season.
Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, E.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Hogg, Condon, Rojas, Worts, I.Hodgson, Weber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), Johns, Campagnale, Kirkby, Mullan.
Scorers: I.Hodgson 18, Waldus 50, Worts 63.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.
Scorer: Price 4.
Referee: Lara Lee.
Attendance: 5,159 (W-League Record).
|Western Sydney Wanderers||12||4||1||7||13||21||13||-8|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Newcastle Jets 0–1 Canberra United (21/3/21).
By Ben Gilby.
Canberra United kept their Finals hopes alive going into the last week of the regular season after earning a 1-0 win in the rain at the Number Two Sportsground.
Despite the huge amount of rain that had fallen in New South Wales in the lead up to the game, the pitch was in outstanding condition.
The Jets went into the game without Tara Andrews who rolled an ankle in the week building up to the game. Coming in was Sophie Harding, who had an outstanding record in NPLW football last season.
It only took four minutes to see just what Harding adds to the Newcastle side. She showed her incredible pace down the right to speed away from the Canberra defence and play a ball across towards Sunny Franco in the box but the danger passed.
Harding got in again just before the ten minute mark when she comprehensively won a one on one against Emma Ilijoski to further emphasise just how dangerous she can be.
Shortly afterwards, Canberra came the closest yet of the two sides to breaking the deadlock. Keeley Richards’ clearance from the back found Laura Keir who in turn passed to Michelle Heyman. A quick ball out to the right into the feet of Nikki Flannery saw a raid down the wing which ended with a ball squared to Paige Satchell who slid in with Jets keeper Claire Coelho making a wonderful point blank save to deny the Kiwi.
Satchell was involved in the next major action with sixteen minutes played when, following a corner, she turned and got a shot away on the left hand side of the box which Coelho held.
With twenty-two minutes played, the Jets won their first corner, but all it led to was woe. Canberra cleared and broke away down the right with Satchell getting past two Jets before Tessa Tamplin momentarily forced the ball away. It came straight back from Laura Hughes to Kendall Fletcher before a nice pass to Grace Maher who delivered an inch perfect ball into the path of Heyman who had made yet another magnificent run into space before slotting it comfortably past Coelho to ensure Canberra hit the front.
United controlled the possession and territory as they aimed to turn the screw despite the best efforts of the W Jets Active support to get behind the home side.
With half an hour played, Heyman again found space and got a shot away which was over the bar. Just two minutes later she danced her way through the entire midfield before Taren King blocked her effort on goal.
The Jets desperately needed to get a foothold in the game, but despite their best efforts, which included a shot from Hannah Brewer from over 35 yards, Canberra were able to keep the home side at arm’s length pretty comfortably in the period up to half-time.
Indeed the visitors could have extended their lead on three occasions in the last two minutes of the half. First, when Hughes’ dangerous cross to the back post was met by a sliding Flannery who couldn’t quite direct her effort on goal. Just before the break they had another chance when Flannery got away from several challenges and laid off a pass to begin a move which ended with Ilijoski’s wonderful ball into the box for Hughes get a shot away which Coelho saved at the expense of a corner. The flag kick was met by Heyman who struck the post. The rebound fell to Flannery whose effort came crashing back off of the crossbar before Coelho dived on the ball just ahead of the half-time whistle.
Just ninety seconds into the second half, Canberra were denied by Coelho yet again. The razor sharp Heyman released Flannery who was clean through until the Jets custodian saved her team.
With fifty-three minutes on the clock, the Jets finally fashioned a chance, and what a great effort it was. From a throw in down the left just in line with the eighteen yard box, Rhianna Pollicina took possession, turned and unleashed first time a wonderful strike that only just went over the bar.
Chances were few and far between over the next ten minutes or so. The Jets support were creating a fantastic atmosphere in the rain, but try as they might, their team could not produce a serious threat on goal.
Instead, it was the visitors who continued to threaten. Claire Coelho kept her team in it with another outstanding save. A low ball in found Nikki Flannery who hit an effort which the Jets keeper tipped magnificently onto the bar from point blank range.
Shortly afterwards, Heyman got another fierce effort away which Coelho, diving to the right managed to hold on to. With sixty-five minutes played, Bianca Galic was set free by Heyman and she fired in powerful angled drive which was just over the bar.
Panagiota Petratos came on as sub for the Jets and was quickly involved when slipping a ball in towards Franco who got a pacy effort away from a tight angle on the right hand side, but Richards was alive to the danger in the Canberra goal.
With six minutes left, teenage sub Hayley Taylor-Young used her immense pace to get clear and fired in a shot which Coelho saved with her legs at the cost of a corner.
Into stoppage time with the rain now reaching biblical proportions, Jemma House had one final chance to equalise for Newcastle which was just scrambled wide.
Canberra United’s win now sets up a monumental final game of the season for them next weekend at home to likely table-toppers Sydney FC. A victory will guarantee the capital city side will play finals football. Anything less makes it highly unlikely.
Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Pollicina, O’Brien, Davis, Harding, Allan, Franco. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Bass, Jaber, Petratos, House.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Ilijoski, Nash, Fletcher, Galic, Maher, Hughes, Heyman, Flannery, Satchell. Substitutes: James (GK), Grove, Rasschaert, Koulizakis, Taylor-Young.
Scorers: Heyman 22.
Referee: Rachel Mitchenson
Perth Glory 0-1 Melbourne City (21/3/21).
By Ben Gilby
Photos supplied from Dorrien Gardens by Tom McCarthy.
Reigning champions Melbourne City gained an important victory in their battle at the bottom of the W-League against Perth Glory at Dorrien Gardens.
In a game played in 30o heat despite the early evening kick-off, the W-League’s heat policy came into play with drinks breaks.
Going into the game, Melbourne City’s Emma Checker was celebrating her hundredth game in the W-League after starting out as a 15 year-old with Adelaide United in 2011.
With two minutes played, Rhali Dobson’s chip through towards Chinatsu Kira needed Glory skipper Tash Rigby to head away at the expense of a corner. From Kira’s flag kick, Jenna McCormick headed over.
Vlajnic won a second corner for City with less than four minutes played as the Victorian side continued to dominate possession in the early exchanges. Despite this, the Sky Blues never came close to seriously troubling the Perth defence.
The Glory came in to this game on the back of a record equalling six consecutive defeats, a run which doesn’t quite tell the story of the quality of their performances and efforts. Their build-up play, usually intricate and skilful was noticeably less accurate than usual early on.
The home side fashioned their first opportunity twelve minutes in when Caitlin Doeglas went charging down the left and unleashed a powerful shot which went into the side netting.
A period of poor quality passing hampered the game and underlined the league position of the two teams at the foot of the table with no further opportunities for scoring coming until the twenty-fifth minute when Doeglas got a shot away which Melissa Barbieri held with ease.
With just over half an hour gone, Tyla-Jay Vlajnic won a free kick for City down the left hand side after a hand in the back from Jamie-Lee Gale, but once more the free-kick was cleared with ease. The ball quickly returned when Jenna McCormick combined brilliantly with Dobson who played a low ball in, but Chidiac badly scuffed her shot wide when it looked easier to score.
Perth fashioned a half chance with ten minutes of the opening half left. Creditable work from Alexia Moreno down the right saw the nineteen year-old hold off several City defenders to win a corner. Deborah-Ann De La Harpe’s subsequent high teasing ball in was met by fellow teen Isabella Wallhead, whose effort went over the bar.
Before the break, Melbourne City’s Naomi Thomas-Chinnama was hurt when trying to clear a fantastic ball in towards Doeglas by the increasingly dangerous Moreno and had to leave the field.
Shortly afterwards, Malia Steinmetz almost caused disaster in the Glory backline with a high pass back to Lily Alfeld which saw the home keeper forced to try and clear with her head. City remained on the front foot and Hana Lowry’s foul on Dobson just outside the box on the left hand side resulted in a free kick, but Kira’s free kick was disappointing to say the least.
The physical battle continued from the resulting goal kick when Vlajnic was yellow carded for jumping into the back of Alexia Moreno.
As the game entered stoppage time at the end of the first half, Perth had a glorious opportunity. Rigby combined with Steinmetz and Gale to play in Doeglas down the right wing. After producing an outrageous Cruyff turn, the Glory star played in a great cross which Steinmetz couldn’t quite control successfully enough to get a shot away.
Given the general low quality of the opening period, it was no surprise that the score remained 0-0 at half-time.
The opening to the second half was scrappy again, but with five minutes gone, Melbourne City had a golden opportunity when Deborah-Ann De La Harpe fouled Alex Chidiac right outside the penalty area in a central position. Kira’s effort was high again but a poor clearance from Isabella Wallhead allowed Noor Hoelsbreken-Eckhoff in but the Norwegian player’s effort was disappointing.
Perth responded with more great play from Caitlin Doeglas who went on a dangerous run down the left and played in Sarah Morgan but to the loud consternation of the home support, referee Kelly Jones ruled that Doeglas had fouled Samantha Johnson earlier in the move.
The next opportunity went Melbourne City’s way with Johnson’s effort from a corner being dealt with well by Alfeld.
Another free-kick came City’s way on the edge of the box when Chidiac broke through menacingly and Lowry brought her down at the additional cost of a yellow card for the seventeen year-old. Chidiac’s resulting effort went over the bar.
Shortly afterwards, and with sixty-seven minutes on the clock, the deadlock was finally broken. Leah Davidson won possession just before the ‘D’ in a central position and the ball eventually found its way to Chidiac who played a clever ball inside Glory defender Liz Anton which meant that Rhali Dobson was in acres of space to slot home calmly into the far left hand corner of the net.
Perth responded brilliantly with Doeglas getting away down the left again. She squared to Lowry who unleashed a fantastic shot which looked destined for the far corner, but Barbieri pulled off a fine save.
Tori Tumeth worked well with seven minutes left to escape the clutches of De La Harpe to get a well worked effort away which was narrowly wide.
Perth’s teenagers combined well to create an opportunity for Caitlin Doeglas when De La Harpe strode forward from the back purposefully and found Tijan McKenna. An exquisite ball through from the 16 year-old found Doeglas who was adjudged to be offside.
Melbourne City controlled the last ten minutes, keeping possession well as they homed in on a much needed three points.
Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Anton, Wallhead, Lowry, Steinmetz, Morgan, Moreno, Gale, Douglas. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Carroll, McKenna, Jukic, Tabain.
MELBOURNE CITY: Barbieri, Checker, Thomas-Chinnama, McCormick, Tumeth, Vlajnic, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken-Eckhoff, Dobson, Kira, Chidiac. Substitutes: Varley, Johnson, Sardo, Muldeary, Cain.
Scorers: Dobson 67.
Referee: Kelly Jones.
Michelle Heyman has just overtaken Sam Kerr to become the W-League’s all-time record goal scorer. After missing the competition last year, the 32 year-old has come back better than ever at her spiritual home of Canberra United this season – and the possibility of a Matildas recall grows. Ben Gilby profiles her stellar career (20/3/21).
Michelle Heyman has been there, done it all and got the T-shirt to tell the tale. The 32 year-old is enjoying an outstanding season in the W-League which has culminated in her becoming the league’s all-time record goal-scorer.
Born in the Shellharbour, New South Wales, 53 miles south of Sydney, Heyman left the small town with a population of around 3,000 to represent her country all over the world and play club football in the USA as well as winning countless honours in the domestic club game in Australia.
Heyman played Rugby Union and touch football first before going to play the round ball at local side Warilla Wanderers and she told one of her sponsors in the past how she remembers well “playing in a boys competition and I was the only girl. When I first started playing, I was a little intimidated because I was the only girl in the league. I just remember being very competitive growing up, I always wanted to be a winner and beat the boys!”
Speaking in 2009 about this part of her career, she said: “I have never been a strong football background. I have never been in the Young Matildas and what I have learnt was from growing up and playing with the boys. I never really had the high level training and coaching.”
She moved on to represent Port Kembla and Shellharbour City before joining Illawarra Stingrays in NSW State Women’s Super League (now NPLW). The Stingrays have been a club that Heyman has returned to several times from 2008 and 2018 between W-League seasons.
In 2008, at the age of 20, ahead of the first W-League season, Heyman was invited to a trial at Sydney FC where, out of 120 triallists, she was one of only ten to be signed. Playing opportunities in her debut season with the harbour city club were restricted to just three games due to the highly competitive squad that the Sky Blues had put together, so she moved to Central Coast Mariners, who at that period were running a W-League outfit.
Her single season in Gosford was hugely successful. Eleven goals in eleven games saw her become the first striker in the league’s infancy to score more than ten goals in a campaign. At the time, she told The Women’s Game: “I am glad that I swapped over and played for the Mariners. I wasn’t too sure if I would be starting this season because of what happened last season (lack of games with Sydney). Steve Roach (coach) gave me the opportunity to start so I didn’t want to let him down.”
With little senior experience at this time, Heyman pointed to how her team-mates at Central Coast Mariners helped to develop her as a player: “The experienced girls talked to me a lot more. Where I can do better. What I can do to make my runs a lot easier and not to waste my energy during the game. With the experience of the girls having played at higher levels, it has just helped me a lot and I have learnt so much this year at the Mariners.”
The successes of this season saw the Mariners finish as runners-up in the W-League before bowing out of the Finals series at the first hurdle to Brisbane Roar. On a personal level, Heyman win the Julie Dolan Medal as the W-League’s player of the year and the Golden Boot as top scorer.
However, Central Coast Mariners’ parent A-League (men’s) club withdrew funding for the women’s team at the end of the campaign and Heyman moved to Canberra United – a club she would be associated with over the next eleven years.
The 2011/12 season was, once more hugely successful for Heyman as Canberra finished top of the W-League at the end of the regular season, going unbeaten. She netted fifteen times to finish six goals clear at the top of the scorers charts. Of these fifteen goals, three came in the finals as Canberra United went on to win the Grand Final. She scored the only goal of the semi-final at home to Melbourne Victory with seven minutes to go. A brace came in the Grand Final at United’s McKellar Park home as Brisbane Roar were defeated 3-2 in front of a crowd of 2,512.
In this period, Heyman was called up for the Matildas for the first time and represented the team in the 2014 Asian Women’s Football Championships where she claimed a runners-up medal and then went on to play all five matches for Australia at the 2015 World Cup. A year later she made her country’s squad for the Olympic Games and scored twice in a 6-1 win over Zimbabwe in Brazil.
Heyman’s stellar form for Canberra United led to a five month contract with Brøndby IF in Denmark. Speaking at the time, she said: “I don’t know much about Denmark but I know it’s cold over there, like -5 degrees. I was told that it hasn’t started snowing yet, but it’s windy and I need to buy gloves and beanies and stuff… I just want to go over there and enjoy it.”
She returned to Canberra United for another six seasons where she clocked up a total of 93 appearance and fifty-six goals. A further W-League Grand Final success followed in 2014 when the side from the nation’s capital came from third place on the table to win both finals away from home. A win in the semis at Melbourne Victory on penalties set up a Grand Final in Western Australia against table toppers Perth Glory, who had won eleven of their thirteen games. In front of 2,671, Canberra United scored two goals in a three minute spell to claim a stunning 3-1 win.
Another spell abroad in the USA with Western New York Flash saw Heyman score once in nine games as the team finished seventh.
After eight hugely successful years in Canberra, she departed for South Australia and Adelaide United. Speaking at the time to the club’s website, Heyman said: “I believe that we can definitely make finals and with the experience that Adelaide have already with the likes of Emma Checker and now with myself adding more experience, I think we can definitely be a successful team.”
Unfortunately, despite those experienced heads in the squad, Adelaide narrowly failed to make a maiden finals appearance – missing out by just a point. A disappointing loss at home to a Newcastle Jets side five points in arrears of them in the penultimate week of the season eventually ended those hopes of making the final four. Heyman played in every game that season, but only managed one goal.
After taking a season out of the W-League last time round, Heyman played for the University of Sydney in the NSW NPLW (State League) under Alex Epakis, now head coach at Perth Glory. A series of great performances and goals prompted her to make a W-League return for 2020/21 with Canberra United.
She was unveiled back in the lime green in November 2020. “If you were to ask me a year ago if this was something that could happen, to be honest, this comeback was something I didn’t think was going to happen,” Heyman told the club website.
“I am so excited to get back to the roots of Canberra United. Canberra United has been a part of my life and helped shape my career.
“I’ve always loved this club and feel very grateful to get the opportunity to come back and play for the Green family,” she continued.
This season it has been a joy back to see Heyman playing at the club. Her positioning sense and deadly accuracy in front of goal have been rewarded by reclaiming her status as the league’s record goal scorer. All the fairy tale needs now is for her to go back on her 2019 announcement retiring from international football.
New Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson recently told Impetus: “Too many Matildas stop playing international football too early. I want to extend these players’ careers. Players can still play really well at 35 or 40.” Michelle Heyman, at the age of 32 certainly would qualify as being worthy of extending her international career.
Adelaide United are enjoying the greatest season in their history. Ben Gilby had the opportunity to speak to two of their key young players, striker Chelsie Dawber who has scored 75 goals in 46 games at State League level and Emily Condon, who made her W-League debut for the South Australian side at the age of 15 and holds a full Matildas cap (17/3/21).
Can you give us a bit of information about your background?
CHELSIE DAWBER: I grew up in Salisbury Heights, I have two brothers who also play soccer in the SA NPL (the elite level of the South Australian State League). My older brother plays for Metro Stars and my younger brother plays for Adelaide City (in the South Australian State League). I’ve been playing football since I was three or four years-old. The whole side of my Dad’s family plays soccer and they are originally from Liverpool in England.
You’re a Liverpool supporter then?
Emily, what about yourself?
EMILY CONDON: I’m part of a family of five, I have an older brother, a younger brother and my Mum and Dad. We grew up in Port Pirie (142 miles north of Adelaide). I started playing soccer when I was seven years old for the local school teams, St. Mark’s College. At the time it was almost all boys, only a handful of girls.
What has you own footballing journey been so far?
CD: I first played among boys up until I was twelve. I was then selected in the South Australian state team and played in the state system until I was seventeen. I’ve played for Adelaide City in the SANPL (state league) for the last three years and Adelaide United in the W-League for the past four years.
EC: After playing for my school, I got selected into the local boys club, the Northern Demons and I played in an U13s team with my older brother, who is two years older, so I was playing two years up from my age group with him and around a lot of his mates. I was then in the South Australia State Team at U13s and also went through U15s and U17s as well. Sometime around then I was invited to my first Young Matildas camp. I got selected into the team and we travelled to Vietnam. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel on five overseas trips with the Young Matildas team which is very exciting. At the age of fifteen, I signed my first professional contract for Adelaide United. So I was very young at the time playing with a lot of older girls. This is now my eighth season at United. Two years ago I went away to live in Sydney for a few months as part of the Future Matildas program there. Just prior to that I was fortunate enough to travel away with the senior Matildas squad and got to make my debut against Portugal in the 2018 Algarve Cup and now here I am back at Adelaide United!
Who have been your most important supporters in your career so far whether it be family or most prominent coaches?
CD: My biggest supporters have always been my family. Both of my parents and brothers are really supportive. My Grandad has also been great. He would always call me up after games and stuff to talk about my soccer. In terms of coaches, my coach at Adelaide City two years ago, Andy Calderbank, had a big positive influence on me as well as Ivan Karlovic that year playing with Adelaide United.
Why have these people been so important to you, Chelsie?
CD: Both Andy and Ivan believed in me which instilled confidence in myself that I was good enough to play W-League week in week out and push me to the next level. I’m a confidence player, so they had a big impact on me.
Emily, who has it been for you?
EC: My Mum and my Dad. For me living in the country there was hours and hours spent travelling back and forward to Adelaide for training three or four times a week (Port Pirie to Adelaide is at least a five hour round-trip), so massive credit to them. I couldn’t have done it without them. I’d also like to give credit to George and Connie Comitzus who were my coaches growing up in an all-boys state and championships team up in Port Pirie. Also to Jeff Napier. I was fortunate that my brother used to play and he used to travel to Jeff Napier’s Academy and go to England. From there I got to know Jeff and train with Jeff a lot. He’s really helped my skill development and I pretty much credit him for making me the player I am today.
What has been the biggest challenge that you have faced in your career so far?
CD: That would have to be my post-concussion syndrome which I suffered in 2016 which meant I didn’t go to school and didn’t play soccer for pretty much eight or nine months. That was a slow process coming back into training. It happened when I hit my head on a wall after being hit by a ball at an indoor tournament.
So Chelsie, through that period did you ever come close to giving up, or did it help you to come back stronger?
CD: A brain injury is very different to a broken leg or something. I knew when I was going to get better. The thing was a fear of the unknown. I did come out more stronger, more determined to play. I realised how much I do enjoy soccer and that I wanted to pursue it as a career.
And for you, Emily?
EC: I’ve been fortunate enough not to have suffered any major injuries. However, coming back from the Young Matildas a few years ago I got really badly sick with Rhinovirus. If you Google it, it just says it’s a common cold, but it completely wiped me out for four months. I was back ready to start a new W-League season and it was just a health battle for me really. I was itching to come back every week and play a game for Adelaide United but just couldn’t do it, so that would be the major challenge. In the past I’ve been dropped from teams and things like that, but fighting that health battle was the toughest.
Tell us about life at Adelaide United in terms of atmosphere, ethos etc?
CD: It’s definitely evolved in the few years that I’ve been involved. Having the same core girls in the team has made a huge difference. We’re all best friends, we all hang out outside of training and see each other each day, sometimes twice a day. It’s a great atmosphere to be in and culture.
EC: We really understand each other. There’s a core group of girls and we’ve gelled well as a team this year. This season the environment is better, a lot more positive.
What has Adrian Stenta brought to the club since he came in as head coach?
CD: He has instilled a belief in us. We’re doing things for the first time this year – winning more games than we ever have and creating that home grown vibe that we have around the team – that South Australia has enough to be a strong contender in the league. He has instilled that belief that we are good enough to play Finals.
EC: Adrian was assistant to Ivan (Karlovic) so he’s been among this core group of girls for a couple of seasons now. He’s got to know us and our style of play and things like that. He understands the individual player which has really helped this season with positioning and knowing where to play players which has helped the group of girls and our mannerisms. Going into training and games we really understand each other.
Adelaide United have had a great run of results. What do you feel are the reasons behind them and what do the team need to do to ensure they make Finals football for the first time this season?
CD: It’s definitely the best start we’ve had to a season. The biggest thing is that this is the third or fourth year of us all playing together, so we’ve got used to what different players like. In terms of ensuring we make finals – we’ve just got to keep going but most importantly keep believing in ourselves that we are good enough to do it.
EC: This is our best season to date. We’re pushing for Finals this year which is a first for the club. It’s a credit to the core group of girls who have stuck together over the years no matter how we’ve gone previously. A lot of players have kept at the club and just kept pushing. We’ve all got that same goal that we want to make Finals. We are a team that are competitive and not just there to make up numbers. All of us have that one mind set. Ivan helped to instil that in us in the previous years. The coaching staff are all on the same page.
Emily, you’re a South Australian and have been at the club since 2013, how have the club evolved in that time? What is it about the club that has kept you there so long?
EC: Growing up, I always wanted to play for Adelaide United, they are my home town team. To represent Adelaide United and South Australia was always a goal of mine which can be seen with all the travelling I did when I was younger. The club is getting stronger each year. The improvement and the time and the care that Adelaide United are putting into the women’s side has been very evident over the past couple of seasons in terms of training venues and being able to play a couple of matches at Coopers Stadium (the men’s A-League side’s 16,500 capacity stadium). We’d love to play a couple more games there, but we take what we can get! In terms of promotion and growing of the game in South Australia, there are a lot more girls playing the sport now.
Chelsie, you made your debut for Adelaide United as a 16 year-old in 2017. What was it like coming into the side at such a young age?
CD: It was quite scary coming into a group of older girls. I felt welcomed but it did take a time for me to find my feet, but it was a pretty cool experience to be playing at sixteen. Not many girls get that opportunity, particularly at the age of sixteen. It was pretty exciting!
Emily, you touched on briefly earlier being picked for the senior Matildas side in 2018. What was that experience like?
EC: I went to one lead-up camp before the Algarve Cup when Alen Stajcic called me and told me to pack my bags for Portugal. My goal growing up was to one day represent Australia by playing for the Matildas. It’s such an honour to represent your country. All that work that you’ve put in as a kid and growing up with all that travelling made it feel worth it in the end. Obviously it was a cool experience to be playing with some of the best players in the world like Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord. To have the opportunity to travel with the team and be in that environment and at that level was an amazing experience and something I was striving for my entire life. My debut against Portugal was such an honour but very, very nerve racking.
So, now obviously there’s a new head coach, Tony Gustavsson at the helm of the Matildas. What do you think you need to do to return to national colours?
EC: He is going to come in with his own mind-set of what he wants in the players in his team. We’ve got a couple of big tournaments coming up starting with the Olympics and it’s always in the back of my mind to make it back to the national level. All I can do really is to try to keep performing week in week out and put my best efforts out on the park. We’ve got the last few games of this W-League seasons ahead, so I have to be at my best. That’s all I can control at the moment.
Chelsie, you came back last year after the concussion lay-off and won the W-League Rising Star Award, how would you review your 2019/20 season?
CD: It was definitely a break-out season for me. It was coming off a season with Adelaide City with the coach Andy (Calderbank), so I really believed in myself through the off-season. Moving to the W-League, I was playing week in week out made a big difference. I think my W-League success season was really put down to all the hard work I did in the off season.
Chelsie, you’ve played for the Young Matildas and were involved in a Future Matildas camp at the back end of last year. What were those experiences like on and off the pitch?
CD: I did U14s and U18s ones. The U18s one was pretty cool, we had the senior Matildas assistant coach there some of the time. It was different going into that not knowing anyone as they were all from Sydney but it was a great experience. I really enjoyed learning from all the other players and coaches. The camp I just went to in September was really awesome. It had all the coaches from the Matildas. We did all the things that the senior team do; how they prepare, how they eat. We also did education and training things which were important and pretty cool too. That was a great experience for myself. I don’t think I felt out of place, but I do need to be doing a lot more outside of that program to be pushing towards a place in the senior Matildas squad.
What would you like to achieve in the game over the next five years – with Adelaide United and the Matildas, but also for yourself?
CD: In terms of the club, if we can keep the same core group of players, we should be pushing Finals every year. That should be the ultimate goal for us. We need to maybe add a few more players whether that be from South Australia, interstate or overseas, but that is the main thing. Personally, I’m studying at the moment, I’d like to complete my degree in Speech Pathology and I’m interested in going to play overseas. I’m not really sure where or when yet, but it’s something I’d like to do in the next five years. In terms of the Matildas, I’m definitely looking at being in the mix for the 2023 World Cup squad, but I know I need to get some overseas experience to be able to do that and I need to be excelling and succeeding in the W-League each week. Obviously I have lots of work to do outside the W-League program in the off-season and I need to be doing a bit more than everyone else to make it.
EC: Well, firstly with Adelaide United, obviously every time you play for the club you want them to do the best they can and for us that is making Finals. I’m hoping that we can achieve that goal this season and build on that, so always making Finals then needs to be the goal before moving on to making a Grand Final and then winning that. Also, it’s really important to help the club build – promote it, get more girls involved and help create a pathway into the W-League. I’d like to see a youth league or a reserves league like they have with the men – expanding the game in that sense. Being back for the Matildas and representing my country again is obviously a goal that I’ve set for myself so sometime in the future I’d like to achieve that, but I can only control what I can. If an option came up to play overseas in August, I’d consider it, but at the moment I’m just happy here playing for Adelaide United.
Ahead of this season’s W-League Finals Impetus will be talking EXCLUSIVELY to Adelaide United Head of Women’s Football Ivan Karlovic. Keep your eyes peeled on social media!
Perth Glory 0-1 Melbourne Victory (17/3/21).
By Kris Goman.
After a thrilling game with lots of drama against Canberra United on Friday, Perth are back home at their actual home in Dorrien Gardens against Melbourne Victory. Apparently it’s hot in Perth so they’ll be having drinks breaks to keep everyone hydrated.
Perth start off full of confidence after their very close match with Canberra and have two corners and a free kick in the first four minutes.
The next ten minutes are pretty even with neither team keeping possession too long or threatening seriously until the Victory captain, Beard, takes an on target strike. It’s easily captured by Alfeld and possess no real threat.
Shortly afterwards, De Vanna creates some magic on the right flank and sends a pass right across goal but there’s no one from victory to run onto it and it goes out for a goal kick.
Once Perth are back in possession, they make their first serious attack. Lowry sends a long ball out to Doeglas on the left. She’s done this very move a few times this season and has great vision to create these breaks from midfield. Doeglas is in acres of free space and onside and brings the ball straight to goal. Her strike is to the right of the keeper but Garton stretches and has it in her hands safely. It’s a good save and lucky for Victory as there was no other defence coming to help.
A free kick by Cooney-Cross is headed by Jackson but she can’t control it and it’s out on the right of goal.
Immediately after Doeglas gets another break down the left and, very similar to before, has another crack at goal that is foiled by Garton.
After the drinks break, Victory get a corner that is headed around before being punched away by Alfeld. Cooney-Cross jumps on the clearance and strikes it low to the near post but Alfeld stops it without too many problems.
There’s another corner after a long range strike by Barbieri is deflected out by the Glory defence. That corner is also cleared out by Glory.
Doeglas gets another on target shot caught by Garton after a cross out to her from Morgan. In this case, it wasn’t third time lucky but at least she’s consistent.
A long throw in near the goal line sees Alfeld lose the ball and a bit of a scramble result in front of goal. Glory manage to clear the ball out but anything could have happened there and it was a lucky escape.
Yet another corner for Victory sees a couple of good shots on target well defended. Victory are really applying the pressure now trying to break through the defence. One more corner gets tipped over the cross bar but Doran has had a head clash of some sort and is bleeding quite badly from her eyebrow. She goes off to get attention while another corner gets played out. The corner is well defended again. Doran comes back on in extra time just before half time with her head heavily bandaged.
So at half time, there is no score from either team despite a few chances. Victory have looked more aggressive and had a bit more possession and territory but haven’t been able to pierce the defence yet. Glory have been dangerous on the break but just haven’t been able to finish.
Perth return to the second half with renewed vigour. An early corner is headed over the crossbar by Anton. Morgan tries a long range shot but it’s thwarted by Garton.
On a counter attack, Morgan brings the ball right up the centre then gets the ball to Doeglas on the left wing and she’s off again. Doran manages to relieve her of possession before she gets a chance to strike, this time.
Within a few minutes, Lowry releases Doeglas again. It’s like groundhog day here and Victory don’t seem to learn. She’s completely in the clear but takes a touch too many and Doran is back on her again. They wrestle a bit for possession and Doeglas gets a shot away but it’s over the goal at the top right corner.
Before Victory launch their own attack via De Vanna, Lowry gets one hopeful shot away from the left corner but it’s a bit ambitious and is gathered up by Garton.
De Vanna creates a corner which is headed around before Jackson tries a volley straight into Alfeld’s safe hands.
Lowry has another long range attempt but the direction isn’t quite right but it had plenty of power.
Beard gets in on the action and takes a long solo run down the left for Victory before centring it towards goal. It’s headed by a Glory defender which makes it tricky for Alfeld and sends her scurrying backwards across the goal face. She manages to get a hand to it to punch it away but it was awkward and results in a corner.
The corner goes to Barbieri standing unmarked and well out of the box. Her shot is punched out for another corner on the other side. That corner is headed down but had no power and was easily collected by Alfeld.
The game has become very transitional and it’s up one end then down the other until with long range shots at each end. Then Victory starlet Cooney-Cross gets a pass on the left and turns and brings it into the box, passes back to Longo after drawing the defence and Longo taps it in on the right of goal for the first goal of the match at 61 minutes in.
At 66 minutes, Glory are back on the attack. A long range shot by De La Harpe goes narrowly wide to the right. These tactics worked in their last match so definitely worth trying again.
After a bit more back and forward and a skied effort by Cooney-Cross, Jukic gets an on target shot from the right side-line that’s blocked by Garton.
Cooney-Cross has another shot that goes high over the goal. She hasn’t really been on target tonight but doesn’t stop trying.
An interception by De La Harpe is sent to Doeglas. This time she tries something different and cuts it back to Lowry. Her shot is just wide of the goal in a very close attempt. Probably the best chance of the night for Perth although I think Garton had it covered.
At 88 minutes, Ayres comes off to be replaced by Martineau. A Glory clearance sees Jukic collide with Jackson and get a yellow. Looks like either her elbow or shoulder might have hit Jackson’s head as she really got knocked sideways and Jukic was unaffected.
We’re in the dying minutes now and there’s a concerted press by Glory and Jukic and Jackson clash again. There didn’t look like much contact in this one but Jackson is down again and gets the free kick.
In another press, Anton sends a long ball forward, Doeglas flicks it on to De La Harpe but she tries to pass rather than shoot to the clear goal. The pass is cut off and kicked out for a corner by Doran. The corner is cleared and full time is called and Victory hang on for the victory which sends them into third place on the table.
Both teams look exhausted after that effort. The heat clearly made things a lot more difficult than usual.
The 1-0 win send Melbourne Victory into third place on the table, jumping over Canberra and Adelaide. From this position, the premiership is still possible although it would require Sydney to lose their next two games and that’s fairly unlikely. They have a game in hand over Brisbane though and two wins would see them in second place regardless of whether Brisbane wins or loses their final match.
Saying all that, they didn’t look especially convincing tonight. The win was a grind with a single goal by Longo. Both teams created plenty of chances but couldn’t convert them. Victory had the most possession by far and corners were Victory 10 to Glory’s 5 but shots and shots on target were fairly equal.
Cooney-Cross was named as player of the match understandably. She got the assist and really did all the work for the goal and had quite a few shots although few on target, but she made a lot of ground during the match and was creating many of their chances.
Despite still being the wooden spooners and not being able to win a game yet, Glory’s last two matches against top five teams have been very close. Unlike every other team, they also have three matches left to play so it feels like a win is soon likely as they improve in each match and their confidence grows and the team clicks.
Perth meets Melbourne City next at Dorrien Gardens again on Friday and you’d have to give them a fighting chance in that match. Victory will be up against Sydney for their next match on Saturday and both teams will be anxious to get the win to help seal their place in the finals.
Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, Rigby, De La Harpe, Wallhead, Anton, Steinmetz, Lowry, Morgan, Moreno, Gale, Doeglas. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), McKenna, Charalambous, Jukic, Tabain.
MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Longo, Ayres, Cooney-Cross, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Martineau, Elidas, Marzano.
Scorers: Longo 62.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
Melbourne City 1-0 Newcastle Jets (14/3/21).
By Kieran Yap.
Just three full days after their last game, Melbourne City faced the travelling Newcastle Jets and were eager to bounce back after their defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers.
City hadn’t won in the league since January and restored Rhali Dobson to the starting line-up, Newcastle were fresh off their 4-0 demolition of Perth Glory and looking to continue that momentum in the final stages of the season.
Both sides looked to attack early but it was Melbourne who had the first clear chance of the game, a near post corner found Jenna McCormick unmarked but her header, while connecting cleanly was directed wide of the post. Almost right away from the next play, Tara Andrew looked to have scored for Newcastle but the goal was disallowed for an offside call that looked unclear but elicited no protest from the Jets players.
Dobson’s impact was noticeable early, her movement and pace opens up spaces for her teammates and she linked up with Chidiac to send the playmaker into the 18-yard box where a sliding Hannah Brewer blocked her cross solidly.
Newcastle’s best chance of the first half was when centre forward Tara Andrews ran onto a bouncing ball and looked certain to trouble Barbieri in goal. She connected cleanly on the half volley but McCormick had read the danger and threw herself in front of the shot like an 80’s action movie star. It was a desperate and well-timed challenge at personal risk to herself in a side playing only for pride and was magnificent defending.
Chinatsu Kira was dangerous in City’s attack, nearly finishing after a cross from Dobson and then stretching agonizingly close to a Tori Tumeth ball, whipped in from the right. Third time was a charm for the Japanese International when she finished another Tumeth inspired move and this time turned it in spectacularly.
When the cross came in to the back post, could she have controlled it? Sure, could she have headed it? Probably, could she have leapt in the air, contorted her body and scored with a mid-flight back heel? Apparently yes. It was an incredible goal, amazing in its invention and execution and a brilliant way to open her account in the W-League. As the teams departed for half time, City were in the unfamiliar position of being 1-0 up
And that’s the way it stayed, Newcastle had the majority of second half possession and attacked at every opportunity but looked short of ideas, the Melbourne defence, with 16 year old Naomi Chinnama-Thomas at the heart of a back five was impressively solid and even after McCormick departed due to a slight injury, they looked rarely troubled.
City tended to play more on the counter attack as the game wore on, Chidiac’s bursting runs from deep central positions troubled Newcastle and after a one-two with Dobson she was unlucky not to score. Dobson also had a chance to double the lead when Claire Coelho parried a Vlajnic shot but Dobson was unable to score from the rebound.
Chidiac is a different player when she is able to get on the ball in the midfield, she has the ability to run, beat players and spot passes ahead of her and another trademark surge set up Kira whose shot was well saved by Coelho at the near post.
Newcastle still had weapons though and never gave up trying to find the equalizer. Gema Simon whipped in a late free kick toward Andrews, the club leading scorer was able to get her head to the ball but Emma Checker did just enough to put her off and the home side were able to run down the clock for the final few minutes.
It was Melbourne City’s first win since January after suffering their longest run of games without scoring. it was a deserved, hard fought win and they were unlucky not to score one more.
Newcastle perhaps unusually for them, struggled to create many chances either through the wide areas or the normally inventive Rhianna Pollicina, still their effort did not drop and they stayed in the contest until the end.
This was a game between two sides out of finals contention, yet judging by the commitment from both sides this could have been a final, after years of dominance it is a weird feeling being happy for the City players getting a win but they deserved to celebrate and will hope to replicate that feeling next week against Perth.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Barbieri, Checker, Thomas-Chinnama, McCormick, Tumeth, Vlajnic, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken-Eckhoff, Kira, Chidiac, Dobson. Substitutes: Johnson, Cain, Muldeary, Robinne.
Scorer: Kira 42.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Pollicina, O’Brien, Davis, Andrews, Allan, Franco. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Bass, Jaber, Petratos, Harding.
Referee: Isabella Libri.
|Western Sydney Wanderers||11||4||1||6||12||18||13||-6|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Brisbane Roar 4–2 Adelaide United (14/3/21).
By Kris Goman
We’re in Round 12 of the W-League and reaching the pointy end of the competition.
Brisbane and Adelaide are on the same points in the table, having nineteen each but Roar is above on goal difference. This is a critical game for both teams as the winner will be clear in second place and closer to guaranteeing a finals berth.
Roar have come on in Polkinghorne 150 games t-shirts during warm-up and many in the crowd have the same t-shirt. Adelaide are in their away kit which resembles a McDonalds uniform.
Mallory Webber has assumed the role of captain for Adelaide and Worth is back in as keeper for Roar replacing Aquino in goal.
Brisbane kick off. There is a huge crowd at Lions Stadium and the Roar Corps are in fine voice and have their signs up around the field.
An early cross by Gielnik is skied by Hecher right in front of goal. Straight away afterwards, Webber sends a cross to Isobel Hodgson and she shoots but Worth has it under control. Looks like it’s going to be a pretty even match.
Another cross by Gielnik, not too long after, sees Fryer-McLaren grab it while Yallop jumps up like an energizer bunny behind her in anticipation of the ball that never arrived.
Gielnik sent a long shot from the side-line aiming for the top right corner that just misses. Little bit more spin and that would have been in.
A cross-field pass out to Hecher sees her twist under pressure to get a shot away but it’s wide and goes across the goal with no one to run onto it. Dalton takes a long range shot that also goes wide to the right. Torpey also takes a crack that skims the crossbar. Brisbane are applying plenty of pressure in the first 20 minutes.
At 21 minutes Hecher centres a ball to Gielnik who shoots. It’s straight to Fryer-McLaren but she can’t control it and it bounces back into the field of play. Hecher runs up and bangs it past her for Brisbane’s first goal of the match.
Adelaide launch a counter attack but can’t break through the Brisbane defence.
On 30 minutes there’s a nice move when Yallop gets a ball to Chance who passes to Gielnik but her shot is out to the left surprisingly as she was unmarked when she got the ball.
Hodgson gets to run a ball down the right and sends a cross towards goal but it can’t be picked up by Webber and goes wide. Immediately after, Hodgson gets the ball again and brings it down the centre. She sends the ball to the right to release Dawber. She steps around Polkinghorne and slams it into the left side of goal and at 34 minutes we’re level again at 1-1.
Just as the Brisbane goal seemed to energise Adelaide, the Adelaide goal has injected Brisbane with a bit more enthusiasm but no more goals eventuate before the half time whistle.
Brisbane come out swinging in the second half and launch a few unsuccessful attacks with a couple of shots by Gielnik foiled. A corner is punched away but Yallop brings it back in and her cross results in mayhem in front of goal before it goes safely out for another corner. The corner comes to naught. The ball is up and down the field a bit until Rojas gets a nice run down the middle avoiding both defenders but her shot is off target.
Shortly after, Gielnik is called offside and a ball put in by Yallop is disallowed. Worth clears a ball to Webber by mistake but she takes a rather weak shot that is easily gathered while Rojas is unmarked in the middle and clearly not happy about not getting the ball.
Hodgson takes a shot from out on the right wing that is caught by Worth. Not too long after, Torpey gets a good close range shot away that’s blocked by Emily Hodgson who was marking her closely.
The resulting corner bounces around in front of goal and Fryer-McLaren is unable to capture the ball. It comes out of the chaos to Gielnik who slams it in for a goal. At 61 minutes, Brisbane are back in the lead 2-1.
Adelaide are straight back on the attack and Dawber gets past a couple of Brisbane players to get a ball out to Hodgson on the right who’s in the clear. Worth comes right out and is able to block her shot in a goal saving move.
The corner comes direct to Waldus’ head and she pops up to send it towards goal but somehow Worth punches it away. It looked like a sure thing.
At 68 minutes, Gielnik brings the ball up the centre and sends a long one out to Hecher. She passes back in to Yallop who takes a lovely shot that goes just right, into the side net. Just off target but a very sweet shot and nice run of play.
At 70 minutes Brisbane get a free kick on the right side-line after a foul on Yallop. It bounces around for a while goes right back to Carroll who sends it back up field, more passes then out to Dalton, back in, back out to Dalton again who slips it to Gielnik to tap it low past Fryer-McLaren for her second goal of the night and eleventh of the season.
A break down the right side by Dawber sees her shot go well high. Another break by Grant is stopped by a tackle by Chance.
McKenna starts off a Brisbane attack by coming down the middle and sending a slow ball through to Gielnik. She gets around Waldus and finds Fryer-McLaren well off her line and is able to put the ball past her for a hat-trick at 80 minutes.
After Heatley gets entangled with Hecher and they both go down, a gap opens for Adelaide and Worts has the ball in midfield and clears it out to Dawber over on the right who is unmarked. She shoots it into the bottom right hand corner out of reach of Worth and suddenly things are interesting again. Adelaide have not given up by any stretch of the imagination and rush the ball back for the kick-off.
In stoppage time Gielnik gets another clear shot on goal but a diving save sends it out. At full time Brisbane emerge victorious and have won 4-2 in a pretty convincing effort in the end. It was pretty even in the first half but Brisbane ramped things up in the second half and, despite their best efforts, Adelaide couldn’t match them. Gielnik looked very good and was able to finish well and get a hat-trick which takes her well clear in the golden boot race. It also deservedly got her player of match.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Heatley, Rankin, Carroll, Polkinghorne, Dalton, Chance, Hecher, Torpey, Gielnik, Yallop. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Crummer, Horsey, McKenna, Freir.
Scorers: Hecher 22. Gielnik 62, 72, 80.
ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, E.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Hogg, Condon, Rojas, Dawber, I.Hodgson, Weber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), Johns, Kirkby, Worts, Mullan.
Scorers: Dawber 34, 87.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.
Perth Glory 2–3 Canberra United (14/3/21).
By Ben Gilby.
One of the most dramatic last ten minutes of any match you will see anywhere this season ended with Canberra United’s Finals hopes remaining intact after a 3-2 win over Perth Glory.
This was a game that had everything – Michelle Heyman breaking the all-time W-League goal scoring record, two missed penalties within minutes of each other, a sending off and a goal at the death.
Something which really must be underlined amidst all of the drama of the ending to the game and Heyman’s record breaking efforts is the incredible effort and never-say-die spirit that this exceptionally young Perth Glory side displayed throughout. Alex Epakis’ team came back from a losing position twice and scored two quite outstanding goals.
This game, officially a Perth Glory home game was moved to Viking Park, Canberra United’s ground, due to restrictions in force within Western Australia on people who had been in the state of Victoria within a given time frame, and with Canberra having played in Melbourne recently, their whole squad came under that bracket.
Despite Canberra’s outstanding performance in thrashing previously unbeaten Brisbane Roar at home last weekend, Perth went into the game buoyed by the fact that their sole point this season came in their visit to the same venue back in late January.
Within twenty-four seconds, Canberra won a free-kick due to hand in the face of Bianca Galic by Malia Steinmetz which resulted in the Perth player being yellow carded.
The first half chance came after three minutes when Grace Maher ran through the midfield and found Nikki Flannery on the right hand side but she couldn’t get any power into the shot and Lily Alfeld easily gathered in the Perth goal.
Three minutes later, Flannery was involved again. She off loaded to Michelle Heyman centrally just outside the box. Heyman’s deft touch back to her team mate saw Flannery through on goal, she squared the ball across to Laura Hughes who slid in but couldn’t quite reach the cross.
With twelve minutes played, Kiwi international Paige Satchell raced down the left and played in Heyman who in turn found Maher. The 21 year-old midfielder ran into the box and skewed an effort off of her right foot into the arms of Alfeld as Canberra continued to press in the opening exchanges.
Satchell was flying down the left wing in this period, and her pace created an opportunity for Galic to play a low ball across the face of the goal which Flannery was not able to get on the end of. A whole volume of missed opportunities in the opening twenty minutes were racking up for the Lime Green Machine – would these come back to haunt them?
The New Zealander had another opportunity shortly after when she got through on the left yet again and looked to have an arm put across her. It was one of those moments that had she gone down, you feel a penalty would have been awarded, however, Satchell stayed on her feet and got a shot away which didn’t trouble her compatriot Alfeld in the Perth goal.
It was all too comfortable for Canberra in the opening twenty minutes. To try and grab some form of foothold in the game, Glory tried to develop short passing triangles ahead of looking for a longer ball down to Deborah-Ann De La Harpe to run onto. One such move led to the Glory defender winning a corner from Lauren Keir. De La Harpe’s flag kick came in high and was met by a great header which was narrowly over.
Despite Perth’s best spell in the game, with nine minutes of the half left, it was Canberra who took the lead, thanks to the impressive partnership of Michelle Heyman and Nikki Flannery. Grace Maher offloaded to Heyman who laid off a side footed pass for Flannery to run onto on the right of the box. Flannery took a touch and comfortably shot home past Alfeld.
Two minutes later, Canberra almost doubled their advantage when Lauren Keir’s dangerous cross was met by Heyman sliding in with her effort being saved by Alfeld’s foot. It ricocheted off a Glory defender and away for a corner which Perth eventually cleared.
However, Perth showed their character by levelling with four minutes of the half left, and what a strike it was. Sarah Morgan took possession from a throw in on the right and a long ball through from Liz Anton was perfect for Caitlin Doeglas on the left hand side. Doeglas beat Keir outside the box and fired a superb shot into the top right hand corner to level matters for the Glory.
Canberra had one further chance right at the end of first half stoppage time. Heyman beat both Sarah Carroll and Tash Rigby to play in a low ball across the six yard box. The pass found Flannery whose goal bound effort was brilliantly blocked by De La Harpe.
Perth created the first opportunity in the second half, seven minutes in. The busy Alexia Moreno played a lovely long through ball into Caitlin Doeglas who ran onto it with Keeley Richards getting there first.
Canberra’s reply was instant and, literally record breaking. Michelle Heyman took advantage of a slip and hit an effort which rebounded off Alfeld back into her path and she turned and lofted a glorious first time effort into the right hand top corner of the net – a magnificent strike to become the W-League’s all-time record goal scorer.
Laura Hughes then called Alfeld back into duty again minutes later when she hit a long range shot that the Glory keeper had to tip over.
Perth reverted to a patient build up to stem the flow of Canberra possession – it was a mature response from a very young side. In this period, Kat Jukic played a ball in towards Jamie-Lee Gale whose effort was off target.
With nineteen minutes to go, Jukic gave Perth a lifeline once more. From well over thirty yards, the midfield substitute lofted a magnificent shot over Keeley Richards into the net. It was a fantastic reply from the Western Australian side.
Hayley Taylor-Young’s introduction as substitute brought a massive injection of pace to the left flank in the closing stages for Canberra.
As the game entered its final six minutes, Heyman headed on a ball towards Flannery who got in ahead of Alfeld, but Anton tidied up brilliantly. Moments later, Kendall Fletcher was brought down in the box by a combination of Patricia Charalambous and Tash Rigby, with referee Lara Lee pointing to the spot.
Up stepped Fletcher and she hit the base of the left hand post with Perth reacting quickest to clear for a corner.
Within seconds though, Lara Lee was pointing to the spot again with Tash Rigby being adjudged to handle from the resulting corner. Perth felt it was incredibly harsh and Sarah Carroll received a second yellow for her protestations. Up stepped Fletcher once more, and once more she missed. This time it went wide of the left hand post. A staggering chain of events and yet another series of opportunities gone begging for Canberra United.
Yet, with a minute of stoppage time to play, there was yet another twist. This was simply a must win game for Canberra for their Finals hopes and who would you put your money on to ensure the Lime Green machine won it?
Michelle Heyman was played through by Demi Koulizakis and calmly placed the winner past Alfeld for her second of the evening.
The plethora of chances that Canberra created in the opening twenty minutes could have put the game out of Perth’s reach early on. As the campaign reaches its climax, teams wishing to play Finals cannot afford to spurn opportunities in such great numbers when they come, but those worries are for the future. For now, Canberra are celebrating an incredible win. It was cruel on Perth, but for the sheer number of chances created across ninety minutes, the ACT side will feel it was a deserved win.
Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Carroll, Anton, Steinmetz, Morgan, Lowry, Moreno, Gale, Douglas. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), McKenna, Jukic, Tabain, Charalambous.
Scorers: Doeglas 41, Jukic 71.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Ilijoski, Nash, Fletcher, Galic, Maher, Hughes, Heyman, Flannery, Satchell. Substitutes: James (GK), Goldstein, Rasschaert, Koulizakis, Taylor-Young.
Scorers: Flannery 34. Heyman 54, 90+5.
Referee: Lara Lee.
Melbourne City 0-4 Western Sydney Wanderers (14/3/21).
By Kieran Yap
It was a round of W-League action packed with special moments and Melbourne City vs Western Sydney Wanderers had its fair share of highlights. A fast paced, sometimes scrappy but constantly entertaining game was the result when the two sides met at City’s new base at Frank Holohan reserve in Dandenong.
Melbourne were without Teagan Micah due to injury but she was replaced by the much accomplished veteran Melissa Barbieri who became the oldest W-League player in history at the age of 41, The Wanderers began with a familiar line-up and once again elected to trust the attack to 17 year old striker Bryleeh Henry ahead of the in-form super-sub Leena Khamis.
From the first whistle the Wanderers were on the attack and looked to test the experienced defence of Jenna McCormick and Emma Checker. Georgia Yeoman-Dale brilliantly cut the ball back inside from the left wing and hit a well struck shot that Barbieri saved confidently and Teigan Collister was looking dangerous on the opposite flank.
In the 12th minute the deadlock was broken, Collister whipped in a low cross into the area between the goalkeeper and the defence and Bryleeh Henry attacked the ball hardest to finish beyond Barbieri from point blank range.
The ball into the box was perfect, any defender trying to cut it off would have risked an own goal and Henry was able to use her impressive acceleration to arrive on time to bury it home. She has looked dangerous in recent weeks, her speed troubled the Victory and defenders the week before but this time she had the finishing to match, she deserved her first W-League goal and had rewarded the faith that the coaches have placed in her.
Henry might have secured the headlines but it was very much the Collister show, the winger once more helping set up Yeoman-Dale to test Barbieri and again the keeper was able to save spectacularly with a diving effort.
There was nothing she could do to stop what happened next though, Collister received the ball from a Julie-Anne Russell switch and sent the ball in toward Henry who did not waste the surprising amount of space she was in and tapped home to make it 2-0 to the visitors at half time.
City began the second half in search of goals and with nothing to lose, Hollie Palmer found Alex Chidiac with a nice cross early in the second half but she was unable to direct the header on target.
The hosts were unlucky not to receive a penalty after Chinatsu Kira was chopped down in the box, it was during a tussle for the ball but the defender got none of the ball yet somehow miraculously received a free kick themselves.
Jenna McCormick went on a solo run down the right, hoping to inspire her team and her cross caused momentary panic for the Wanderers defence, unfortunately it sailed past the back post with nobody there to meet it.
Substitute Sam Johnson had one of the clearer chances for City when she connected cleanly with her head from a corner but the ball flew over the bar. Western Sydney had a two-goal cushion but it momentarily looked under threat.
Collister continued her dominant display, another trademark run resulted in a shot that bobbled around the six-yard box and forced Barbieri into a miraculous save before being called into action again to deny Henry her hat-trick with a strong save from a flicked shot on target.
Rosie Galea was next to find the goal, Collister again was the main instigator, another cross from the right was not cleared by Melbourne and with the ball running behind Henry the substitute was on hand to smash it into the back of the net, burying any chance of a comeback by the hosts.
In the dying minutes Galea added a second and the Wanderers fourth, Yeoman-Dale was the provider on this occasion, sending in a dangerous cross that Barbieri parried away, the ball bounced in the 18 yard box and Galea reacted fastest, attacked the ball at full pace and rifled it home to make it 4-0.
It wasn’t a classic game, but Teigan Collister’s performance was one to admire, a winger in flying form at full pace is still one of the sport’s greatest sights and her contribution to the side was massive.
The emergence of Bryleeh Henry as a scoring threat in this match was exciting to see and Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Dean Heffernan should be commended for trusting and developing her this season when goals were scarce for much of the year. Western Sydney have slowly worked their way into form, if the season was a few weeks longer they would look a dangerous finals prospect and if they can keep the core of this side together next season they should find some success.
Melbourne City are going through a rough patch, they recruited experienced talented players across the park but are clearly missing a reliable goal scorer. They have a short wait before the chance to redeem themselves as they play Newcastle Jets three days later and will want to end the season with a few wins.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Barbieri, Checker, Thomas-Chinnama, McCormick, Tumeth, Vlajnic, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken-Eckhoff, Kira, Chidiac, Palmer. Substitutes: Micah, Johnson, Cain, Muldeary, Dobson.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.
Scorers: Henry 12, 26. Galea 82, 90+3.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
Melbourne City and Australian international Jenna McCormick is one of Australia’s finest female athletes. She is a true example of someone who did #ChooseToChallenge, the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day. Jenna won Australian Rules Football grand finals in front of huge crowds whilst also playing in the W-League and since switching full-time to football has become a Matilda and one of the country’s best defenders. For our #MidweekDub series, Ben Gilby spoke to Jenna about her incredible career in sport, a tough time in Spain and a big three years for the women’s game in Australia (10/3/21).
Jenna McCormick is one of those sports stars that you just have to afford huge respect to and say “wow”. Winning two Australian Rules Football Grand Finals with Adelaide Crows in three years in front of huge crowds as well as playing W-League football is amazing in itself. Then, moving solely to a football career and playing for your country with a home World Cup also on the horizon is something else.
I began by asking Jenna about her time playing both sports to a high level and what it was like as an athlete: “Being at Adelaide Crows was great for my AFL (Aussie Rules) as I only ever had short period of time with them after W-League seasons to touch up my craft to be able to play the games of the season. So, their support and time spent in developing my AFL skills was crucial to my AFL success.”
“I was lucky that the seasons only over lapped by a week in my three years doing both. I missed (AFL) pre-season every year as this was when the W-League was still on. The AFL semi-finals I played in all those three years was on the same weekend as the W-League’s Round one so I always missed that first game of the soccer season and turned around the following couple of days, would move home and then be kicking a different shaped ball the following weekend!”
Jenna’s time playing AFL for Adelaide Crows was hugely successful with the competition pulling in big crowds. “The 2017 Grand Final was special in its own right, as it was the AFL’s very first women’s season where history was being made every single day during that season. So, to come out premiers at the end of the season really was special, knowing we were in the history books forever. 2019 was different, and in my opinion – better. We had played in our first semi-final to get there which to me meant the Grand Final meant we deserved to be there and earned our spot. Another history making game saw that Grand Final being the first one at Adelaide Oval and at the time, it was the biggest attendance for a stand-alone female sport match – 53,000+ people. To describe the feeling playing in front of that many people and winning, I can’t find the words. I know it’s cliché to say, and I have other experiences I say the same about, but it’s a day I will never forget.
At the end of that 2019 season, Jenna made the decision to focus solely on football. Whilst AFL is the sport with the biggest spectator numbers in Australia, it is football that offers the real international opportunities: “The main reason I stepped away from AFL was be to able to represent Australia playing football, to go to World Cups and Olympic Games and continue my career in Europe. I never really had such clear precise visions and goals, but after arguably my best season with Brisbane Roar in 2019, I had this strong desire and urge and most importantly belief to play football at international level and represent my country. It was the first time I really actually believed I could compete and do well at that level. So that in turn assisted my decision to step away from AFL and achieve those goals.”
It didn’t take long for Jenna’s full time switch to the round ball game to result in an international call up for the Matildas and she made her debut in November 2019 against Chile. Prior to the kick off, a hugely symbolic photo was taken of Jenna during the national anthem – one of the most powerful pictures in women’s sport.
“It’s another day I’ll certainly never forget. There aren’t many of those days, so this one was for obvious reasons, very important to me. The photo encapsulates so much of the day and what it meant to me. In that moment, I was trying to calm my nerves and sing the national anthem with so much pride knowing that being able to finally sing it was a representation of my journey to that exact moment in time. All the sacrifices my parents and siblings made for me to play sport, and the sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears I had made to get myself to that point, and the pure gratefulness of being blessed with the life I have to represent my country playing football.”
There is also something about the Matildas that makes them such a special team. Football is way down the pecking order when it comes to media attention in Australia with Aussie Rules, Rugby League, Cricket and Rugby Union claiming the column inches, but the women’s national side have captured the nation in a way that very few teams in any sport have anywhere. Their openness and active communication with supporters and their incredible stories all contribute to the esteem in which they are held. The extent of this connection with the Australian public is not really appreciated here in England. I asked Jenna if she could try and put her finger on why this was:
“This is probably a tricky one to sum up, but I’ll give it a go. The Matildas have captured the nation’s sporting hearts over the last five to ten years with outstanding players coming through the ranks and the team putting in some terrific performances over top-quality opponents. When you watch the Matildas play you see so much heart and the ‘never say die’ attitude that has stuck with the team for a long time now. Since The Matildas put their name on the country’s sporting map, we’ve seen a huge rise in participation in girl’s football which has then in turn led to this amazing group of women inspiring the entirety of that next generation young footballers which we just absolutely love to see and I personally just love to be a part of.”
The Matildas are going into a massive three year period with the Olympic Games, the Asian Championships and a home World Cup. The period has started with the appointment of Tony Gustavsson as head coach.
“I was thrilled to see the announcement of Tony in the new Head Coach role. I knew a little bit about Tony’s success with the US Women’s National Team and got into some of my own research about his career and what he has achieved so far to which I was impressed! It was great to finally get to chat with him over Zoom a couple of months ago to get to know him a bit better and ask some burning questions I had on my mind and I left the meeting so inspired and so excited for what can be achieved with The Matildas and I think everyone should be excited knowing he will take the team to another level.”
The current period up until 2023 is unquestionably the biggest in the history of Australian women’s football, but it is one that has been complicated by the coronavirus pandemic: “Yeah, definitely a huge three years, but at this point it looks like it still could be a complicated few years with coronavirus still lingering, but the most important thing for the group is to get the connections back and get into camp as much as we can to build and develop as a group. We haven’t been able to do so during the last twelve months because of the situation of the world and so we have missed out on quite a bit of valuable time together. So, we are hoping in the near future we can resume some national team camp normality.”
We now turned our attention to club football. Jenna’s time in the W-League has seen her play for home state side Adelaide United plus Brisbane Roar, Canberra United, Melbourne Victory and now Melbourne City. Jenna has also spent time in Scandinavia at Stjarnan and Medkila. I wondered how her experiences at those clubs compared: “Haha, it sounds like a lot of teams hearing you say that! Really when I look back, the teams I’ve played for have been the stepping stones I’ve needed at the time. Every experience gave me what I needed to get at that present moment, and I only know that looking back now. I’ve always been one to walk through doors – take opportunities – when they present themselves and I believe that has really shaped the person I have become today and taught me valuable lessons on and off the pitch.”
After the 2019/20 W-League season, Jenna was given the opportunity to move to Spain and play for Real Betis. An overseas move is tough enough at the best of times, but in the middle of a global pandemic, even harder.
“My time in Seville was shorter than expected and a lot more difficult than expected. I had numerous challenges that I faced head on as I normally do, however some barriers were too thick to knock down and I found myself with a decision to make with regards to what’s best for me moving forward into 2021 with the Olympics and that was for me to return home to Australia and find my confidence and mental well-being again by playing games and being at a club that I knew was going to support and nurture me.”
That club was Melbourne City, the reigning W-League champions and Jenna joined them just before the start of the current campaign. Things at the club have been difficult as they lost so many of last season’s key players to FAWSL clubs in England and it’s been a transitional time for the Sky Blues.
“Oh look it obviously hasn’t been great nor the success we would’ve liked but we all knew coming into this season it would be a very different looking Melbourne City that we are used to seeing dominate the league. The team saw ten of its eleven starters in the Grand Final and I think only retained three of its total squad. So obviously that’s a huge cut in experience and talent and a lot of new and younger girls coming in. It’s taken us time to really improve at training too which I see in parts of our game but not consistently enough for the success we would have liked up until this point.”
It is not just Melbourne City that have been impacted by the loss of international players overseas. The whole competition itself has a very different look to it this season, as Jenna highlights.
“I’m absolutely loving seeing some of our up and coming Aussie talent get good game time and a chance to play at this level. The future of the league only has one direction and that should be to make it a full year long season. That really should be the priority. Having a longer season brings a little more security to players knowing their movements for the next year, we can also start signing longer term contracts and it should also start attracting more foreign talent to the league. This also would allow Australian players to stay and compete in this great country and not be exposed to some of the average conditions that are on display in Europe that are most of the time masked by the “big lights” going overseas.”
Jenna’s last comments are hugely important – the grass is not always greener in Europe. The W-League this season has been an absolute joy to watch simply because of the incredible young talent on display. With experienced and inspirational characters such as Jenna McCormick behind these talented teenagers, the competition is going to blossom further.
Jenna’s story and achievements are worthy of celebration – she is an incredible sportsperson and someone who should be the role model of any youngster – girl or boy.
Jets Take All The Glory
Perth Glory 0–4 Newcastle Jets (9/3/21).
By Kris Goman.
After the weekend of upsets, who knows what to expect from this game. We’re at Dorrien Gardens to watch this bottom of the table match. On paper you’d have to put your money on the Jets but it has been a strange weekend.
Glory kick off. The first ten minutes sees Perth with the bulk of possession but unable to get out of their defensive half very often due to the Jets’ continued high press.
Newcastle get one long range strike on goal that goes wide before Glory construct an attack from the left. Taneesha Baker gets the ball in the box on the full and high but she can’t control the volley and it’s headed away before she can strike.
Liz Anton gets a yellow for a foul tackle on Lauren Allen. Taren King takes the free kick and sends it cross field to Tiana Jaber. She lobs it into the box and Allen runs onto it in free space with just Lily Alfeld to beat in the Perth goal. The keeper blocks the shot but Allen still has possession and gets past on the left in front of the open goal. The defence recover by the time she has it under control and it goes back to the right to Tara Andrews, whose shot is blocked. It rebounds and is scooped up by Alfeld. How the Jets didn’t score then is not clear but the Glory did a great job of scrambling their defence.
Sunny Franco took a nice run down the left that was looking dangerous until Sarah Carroll cleared out with a magnificent sliding tackle.
From a goal clearance, it comes to Hana Lowry who puts a lovely ball out to Caitlin Doeglas on the left wing. She brings it in but her shot is deflected out by Tessa Tamplin into the left side of the net.
Shortly after, Andrews releases Franco again and she’s off down the left towards an unobstructed goal with only the keeper to beat. Her shot just dribbles towards Alfeld and she must have topped the ball or something as it presented no challenge to Alfeld at all. Another chance goes begging for the Jets.
At 24 minutes in, Cassidy Davis takes a power shot from the top of the box. Alfeld nearly gets a hand to it and it hits the crossbar. It bounces down and then back up and hits the crossbar again before it’s cleared by the Glory. The ref declares it’s not a goal despite the Jets protests. There’s no cameras to say otherwise. Jets have been very unlucky not to score three times so far.
A corner for the Jets also results in a scramble in front of goal that is eventually bundled up by Alfeld.
Finally, at 28 minutes the ball is stolen from the Glory. Andrews sends the ball out to the right to Allen who crosses it back in to Rhianna Pollicina who gets a clean jab at it to send it past Alfeld’s outstretched arms for a long deserved Newcastle goal.
Franco and Deborah-Ann De La Harpe are starting to get a bit pushy with each other after De La Harpe got away with pushing Franco over earlier. Franco is clearly out for revenge and it’s starting to get interesting. Soon after, Jaber comes in from behind and knocks over Alexia Moreno. De La Harpe pushes away Pollicina who’s checking she is OK.
Seconds later Chloe O’Brien slams Lowry to the ground then immediately after, Moreno takes down Jaber with a sliding tackle. She finally gets a yellow for that but it looks like tempers are flaring right now. Someone will get sent off soon if this continues.
At 36 minutes, a ball comes through on the right for Franco who’s been staying high. She takes one touch then slams it past the keeper. No mistakes here at all and Franco gets her first goal of the season for Newcastle.
Just before half time, the Jets get a corner which is taken short. It goes to O’Brien then back to Pollicina who lobs it to Andrews. She heads towards goal but it’s tipped over the crossbar by Alfeld in a very close call.
In the second half, Jets kick off and we’re back into the Glory’s defensive half which is where all the territory has been. Tamplin delivers a ball from the right into the box. Marianna Tabain tries to kick it away but she shanks it and it bounces with considerable spin, right in front of Franco who heads it past Alfeld for her second and Jets third goal.
A little later, Doeglas takes the ball down the left flank for Glory. Malia Steinmetz, who came on at half-time, connects with her cross and slams it towards the bottom right corner. A heroic dive by Claire Coelho saves it from going in and it’s cleared successfully.
Glory seem to be stepping up their attack a bit now and Moreno gets a ball back to Lowry who takes a crack just outside the box on the right. It goes over the crossbar but Perth are finally showing a bit more spunk.
The last fifteen minutes have felt a lot more even with the ball up and down the field and both teams getting reasonable possession. There’s been a couple of runs onto each box but nothing particularly threatening. Perth are doing better than before in this half despite the early goal.
There’s another tussle and Jaber knocks Tash Rigby to the ground. She gets up and joins in again and this time Franco pushes her over. Glory gets the decision. Rigby isn’t happy about there being no card given but walks away before she says something she regrets.
At 75 minutes, Bass replaces Franco so she won’t get the opportunity for a hat-trick – or a red card.
A lob towards goal by Anton from quite a way out is fumbled by Coelho. She eventually gathers it but sub Jamie-Lee Gale is right there but she can’t kick it without hurting Coelho.
Patricia Charalambous weaves a ball through the centre and sends a lovely pass out to the left to Doeglas but her cross back fails to connect with anyone.
It’s straight back the other end and Sophie Harding takes a shot that goes across the face of goal and out on the right.
At 82 minutes, Coelho sends a very long ball down field. It bounces over Glory’s last line of defence and is picked up by Harding. The defence have recovered but it bounced across to Allen in the middle of the box. She takes control and rolls it past Alfeld and it’s in for the Jets fourth goal.
Newcastle haven’t looked as dangerous this half but they’ve taken their chances when they’ve been presented and this was a case of that.
In a last ditch attempt, Rigby brings the ball down the left. Her looping cross is too high for Charalambous to connect with despite a big jump.
There’s three minutes of extra time. Lowry gets a cross over to Charalambous who’s positioned by the left post. Her kick goes across the face of goal and no one else is there to tap it in.
The match ends with Newcastle deserving the win despite a second half rally by Glory and it sends the Jets ahead of Melbourne City on the table. Neither of these teams will be in contention for the finals but they both are still trying to move up the table.
Sunny Franco got player of the match with her two goals.
Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Carroll, Anton, Tabain, Baker, McKenna, Lowry, Doeglas, Moreno. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Gale, Morgan, Steinmetz, Charalambous.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Jaber, King, Brewer, Davis, O’Brien, Pollicina, Andrews, Allan, Franco. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Bass, Petratos, Harding.
Scorers: Pollicina 29. Franco 36, 47. Allen 83.
Referee: Rachel Mitchenson.
|Western Sydney Wanderers||10||3||1||6||8||18||10||-9|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Canberra United 4–1 Brisbane Roar (7/3/21).
By Ben Gilby
Canberra United produced arguably the result of the W-League season by demolishing previously unbeaten Brisbane Roar in front of a big crowd at Viking Park.
It was a result that renewed the capital city side’s Finals hopes and came with the added delight of club icon Michelle Heyman scoring a goal which saw her equal Sam Kerr as the W-League’s all-time leading scorer.
The stats going into the game emphasised just what a phenomenal result this was. Canberra United were without a win since 30th January after opening the season with an unbeaten run of five games. This period coincided with Michelle Heyman going a month without scoring a goal. If both of those statistics were not depressing enough for the Lime Greens’ fans, United hadn’t beaten Brisbane Roar since December 2016.
From the Queenslanders perspective, Clare Polkinghorne was playing her 150th W-League game for the club, becoming the first player to play that number of games for a single club in the competition’s history. The Roar though were without head coach Jake Goodship, who remained in Queensland as he was about to become a father. Assistant coach Kelly Crew stepped up to take over the reins.
The opening period of the game was cagey. It took five minutes for anything close to a chance to be created. Brisbane’s Australian international Tameka Yallop got through and just outside the box, she was denied by a great tackle from Kendall Fletcher. The ball then went straight to Mariel Hecher, but her follow up went over.
Four minutes later, this season’s W-League top scorer Emily Gielnik tried to lift an effort over Keeley Richards in the United goal, but the Canberra keeper was equal to it.
From the resulting goal kick, Canberra developed their first attack of the game. A beautiful directed lofted pass by Grace Maher from the middle of the pitch into the box was chested down by Nikki Flannery and her shot deflected off of Roar defender Kim Carroll and trickled over the line for the Lime Green Machine to take the lead.
Brisbane tried to respond to going behind, but despite looking good in the build-up, the final ball consistently let them down, and this would cost them badly.
With twenty-three minutes played, Fletcher played another delightful ball through the midfield to Heyman. Her offload to Laura Hughes needed to be tidied up at the cost of a throw in.
From that throw in, Roar initially looked to have cleared any danger, but a loose pass from Kim Carroll found 21 year-old Canberra midfielder Grace Maher over thirty yards from goal. She unleashed a shot which flew both through the air and the grasp of Brisbane keeper Morgan Aquino and it was 2-0 for the hosts.
Canberra created another great opportunity shortly afterwards. A beautiful one touch offload from Hughes found Flannery in acres of space down the right only for her ball in to be cleared.
Roar responded a minute later when Emily Gielnik chested down a long ball just outside the area and turned before hitting an effort which came back off the bar.
Just prior to the half-hour mark, there was more joy for the Lime Green Machine and another stunning build-up which produced a memorable goal. Flannery was stationed inside her own half on the right wing and played an inch perfect pass into the feet of Heyman who took possession just outside the ‘D’. The Matildas’ and Canberra goal scoring legend took a touch and rolled a calm finish into the net to equal Sam Kerr’s record as the leading scorer in W-League history to a delirious reaction from the home fans. Canberra United were in dream land and they deserved everything for the outstanding skill and work ethic that they displayed throughout the opening half.
Brisbane probed and pressed in the remaining ten minutes of the half, but still struggled to produce a dangerous final ball to trouble the home defence.
With just over a minute left though, they finally got it right, courtesy of a free-kick awarded for a foul on Clare Polkinghorne just outside the centre circle and the consequence was a goal. The long ball in was directed towards Gielnik whose glancing back header found the net.
From the kick-off of the second half, former Perth Glory teenager Leticia McKenna drove a shot in which was narrowly wide of the left hand post.
Canberra came back strongly and Heyman turned Isobel Dalton and eventually found Paige Satchell who forced a corner.
With eight minutes of the second half played, the Roar had a glorious opportunity to get a second goal back when Yallop’s low cross from the right was side-footed goal wards from just a few metres out by Gielnik, but Keeley Richards produced a great save.
Shortly afterwards, just outside the box, McKenna ran across a pass to Isabel Dalton who unleashed a shot which crashed back off of the bar.
Despite Brisbane pushing forward and creating some excellent chances, they couldn’t fashion a second goal and they were made to pay for that.
With sixty-four minutes played, Heyman picked up the ball just inside the Brisbane half and found Bianca Galic who was around forty yards from goal. She looked up and saw Morgan Aquino off her line and the 21 year-old lifted a superb long range shot over Aquino’s head and into the net.
With twenty-two minutes left, Michelle Heyman was substituted to a huge reception from the Lime Green Machine’s fans.
Hayley Taylor-Young came on as a result and was involved instantly after being played through beautifully by Satchell, who must have been seriously impressing her Football Ferns boss Tom Sermanni, who was looking on. As Taylor-Young homed in on goal, she was involved in a crunching collision with Polkinghorne but eventually was able to return to the action.
Another substitute was then involved, this time from Brisbane’s perspective as the game neared its final quarter of an hour. Kaitlyn Torpey broke through and her effort was saved magnificently by Richards. It rebounded back to Torpey who put in a low cross which found Gielnik who looked odds on to score, but a quite sensational “how did she do that?” header off the line from Kendall Fletcher denied the Matildas striker. This one piece of action summed up exactly why Canberra were so far ahead in this game – their sheer determination and never say die spirit put them head and shoulders above the Roar.
Try as Brisbane might they could not break through the Canberra defence as the ACT based side earned one of their greatest wins in recent times.
Speaking about equalling the competition’s all-time goalscoring record, Michelle Heyman said: “I am just glad that it is finally done, it’s been haunting me for the last couple of weeks! To finally get that off my shoulders is a big release and now I can go out and hopefully get a few more in.”
In terms of what inspired Canberra to create a performance that led to the outstanding result, Heyman revealed: “We just wanted to focus on being that best that we can be. If everyone does that, as a team we will always be successful.”
Proud Canberra United boss Vicki Linton said: “We’d been on the road for a number of weeks and it was nice to be back home. It was a great start which gave us momentum. It was disappointing to concede just before half-time and we needed to be smart and work hard to finish it off. The execution we had been working on and it showed. We concentrated on our work with the ball and it really paid off.”
Teams: CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Ilijoski, Nash, Fletcher, Galic, Maher, Hughes, Heyman, Flannery, Satchell. Substitutes: James (GK), Goldstein, Rasschaert, Koulizakis, Taylor-Young.
Scorers: Flannery 10. Maher 23, Heyman 29, Galic 64.
BRISBANE ROAR: Aquino, Heatley, Rankin, Carroll, Polkinghorne, Dalton, Chance, Hecher, McKenna, Gielnik, Yallop. Substitutes: Worth (GK), Torpey, Crummer, Horsey.
Scorers: Gielnik 44.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
Adelaide United 2-0 Sydney FC (7/3/21).
By Ben Gilby
Adelaide United put down a real marker for the finals as they produced an excellent performance in defeating league leaders Sydney FC at Marden Sports Complex.
This 2-0 win also ensured that the club have won their highest number of W-League games in a season (six) and are now well on their way to earning a first ever berth in the Finals.
Both teams went into the game on the back of disappointing midweek news. Dylan Holmes, the home side’s 23 year-old captain who has been in outstanding form this season, announced that she was moving to new Swedish side BK Häcken after this weekend. Her new team were formed out of a takeover of the previous campaign’s champions Kopparbergs/Göteborg who ran into funding issues and lost large numbers of their squad at the end of December.
For Sydney FC, there was the devastating news that key player Ellie Brush suffered an ACL injury at Perth Glory last weekend.
The league leaders from the harbour city went into the game having won their last five games against the South Australians, but from the very start this always looked like it might be different.
Adelaide started strongly with plenty of possession, and looked particularly dangerous down the left flank. It was therefore no surprise when they took the lead via a move that started down that area of the pitch.
With five minutes on the clock, Khalia Hogg’s corner was met by a power header from Maruschka Waldus whose effort rocketed into the top left hand corner of the net.
Sydney couldn’t offer much in response other than Princess Ibini buzzing around the middle of the pitch, but United’s high press and constant energy nullified the Sky Blues’ threat.
A worrying stat for the visitors was the fact that every time they have scored the first goal in a game this season, they went on to win. Adelaide’s early goal only served warning as they kept their foot firmly down on the attacking throttle.
Just past the quarter hour mark, Mallory Weber let fly with an effort which curled wide, away from the right hand post. That was a mere sighter though, as less than a minute later, Weber had better luck.
Dylan Holmes found Hogg just outside the box in a central position. She in turn played a ball out to the left hand side once more where Weber was lying in wait. She took the ball forward and then curled an absolute screamer into the far corner past a despairing Jada Mathyssen-Whyman as Adelaide doubled their lead.
It wasn’t just in attack that Adelaide were showing the greater hunger. On one of the rare occasions that Sydney got forward, a sensational tackle from Charlotte Grant denied the ever dangerous Cortnee Vine down the right.
With seven minutes left of the half, Vine got free down the right hand side after being played through beautifully by Ibini. Her ball in was met by Remy Siemsen who slid in to direct the ball over the line but the flag was up for offside.
Just before the break, Adelaide almost put the game to bed and it was a move down the left wing that caused carnage to Sydney once more. Emily Condon got away and played in Maria Jose Rojas whose shot was narrowly wide. It remained 2-0 at half-time.
Ninety seconds into the re-start, Adelaide came agonisingly close once again. Rachel Lowe lost possession to Mallory Weber in the middle of the pitch and careered forward to get a shot away which was just over the bar.
Still Adelaide United pressed. Chelsie Dawber did sterling work down the right and then just before the hour mark, Rojas had a shot that Mathyssen-Whyman did well to catch. As the shot got away Khalia Hogg accidentally collided with Ally Green which necessitated the Sydney defender to require lengthy treatment before she was able to resume.
Three minutes later, Rojas played in Grant for Adelaide who was taken out by Green just outside the box, with the Sydney defender given a yellow card for the challenge. The resulting free-kick was well over the bar.
With twenty minutes to go, Sydney earned a free-kick when Vine was brought down on the right hand edge of the box. Teresa Polias’ free-kick saw Allira Toby crack heads with Adelaide defender Matilda McNamara.
With fifteen minutes left, Natalie Tobin was yellow carded for Sydney for a challenge on Rojas in the centre circle as frustration built for the league leaders.
Shortly afterwards, Adelaide had two more superb chances. First, Chelsie Dawber broke free down the right. Jada Mathyssen-Whyman came storming out of her goal, but was rounded by Dawber whose ball across found Rojas. The Chilean’s effort was scrambled away for a corner. As the flag kick came in, Waldus directed a looping header against the bar before the visitors cleared.
With seconds of normal time left, Sian Fryer-McLaren was finally called on to make a save, such was the control Adelaide’s defence had, with Sydney’s sharp shooter Remy Siemsen largely anonymous all night.
Deep into stoppage time Adelaide hit the woodwork again with Weber playing though substitute Fiona Worts who let fly with a shot which crashed off of the crossbar with Mathyssen-Whyman beaten.
This was a deserved win for Adelaide United and arguably the greatest in their history. The Reds now look to be all but certain to cap their best ever season with a first appearance in the Finals. Losing Dylan Holmes to Sweden will hit them and they have a tough trip to Brisbane Roar next time out, but there is plenty of talent in the South Australian’s squad to push on.
Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, I.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Hogg, Condon, Rojas, Dawber, Weber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E.Hodgson, Campagnale, Worts, Mullan.
Scorers: Waldus 5, Weber 19.
SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Hristodouou, Mclean, Green, Tobin, Polias, Lowe, Wheeler, Siemsen, Vine, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Chlakian, Hawkesby, Rule, Toby.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
Melbourne Victory 1-0 Western Sydney Wanderers (7/3/21).
By Kieran Yap
On an immaculate pitch, in perfect conditions and in finals bound form, Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers played in front of an empty stadium and put on a display of fast, wonderfully chaotic football that would have delighted the crowd had fans been able to attend.
The game was originally scheduled to be played at Lakeside Stadium, but 24 hours from kick-off, the pitch condition at that venue necessitated a late switch to AAMI Park. This was far too late to ensure the necessary Covid-safe regulations would be in place at the 30,050 seater venue of the men’s Victory team.
Victory were without influential attacker Catherine Zimmerman who was nursing a calf niggle following the draw with Canberra and Western Sydney again started Leena Khamis on the bench despite her recent scoring form, with coach Dean Heffernan electing to go with young speedster Bryleeh Henry up front.
Lisa De Vanna looked to be in good touch early, one of her first touches was rolling the ball behind her, between two defenders into the path of Annalie Longo and Victory looked happy to make good use of the AAMI Park surface to stroke the ball around at pace and try and find an opening.
Despite Melbourne having the majority of early possession, it was WSW who fired the first shot in anger, a counter attack and cross by Danika Matos was met by Henry but her shot flew over the bar. Henry looked dangerous early and almost broke away to race in on goal before a backtracking Kyra Cooney-Cross hurried back to recover the ball. If the Victory prodigy had added defensive steel to her already considerable attacking abilities her powers may soon be complete.
Melina Ayres responded in attack for Melbourne, she controlled a cross into the box on her right foot, shifted it quickly onto her left and got the shot away. It sailed wide but it was a good sign of the strikers instinct and confidence, the right thing to do, and done in a split second.
Melbourne again attacked when De Vanna won the ball on the left flank and after exchanging passes found herself in space with Ayres charging into the middle, a shot on goal looked imminent but Nikola Orgill arrived to put in a well-timed block on the cross.
Is it possible to be awarded “Save Of The Week” for just incredibly good luck?
Sarah Willacy might find out when the round is complete after a corner kick caused havoc in the WSW penalty area and the ball fell to Melina Ayres. She shot from inside the six yard box and Willacy was not only on the ground already but facing the wrong way following a clash of players. The ball somehow missed the crowd of defenders and crashed into Willacy who knew very little of it, but kept the scores level, a moment later she showed off her more conventional goalkeeping talents when she anticipated a Cooney-Cross attempt to score with an attempted Olympico (scoring direct from a corner) from the next flag kick.
Although Victory were doing the majority of the attacking, Western Sydney threatened with the pace of Julie-Anne Russell, Georgia Yeoman-Dale and Teigan Collister on the flanks and they all looked dangerous on the counter-attack when the midfield were able to get the ball to them quickly and again Henry was almost in on goal before a well-timed Kayla Morrison tackle prevented the scoring chance.
Lisa De Vanna was rewarded for her endeavor after she chased down a long ball that Orgill tried to shepherd out of play, she managed to flick the ball back into play and tried to run onto it, both her and Orgill grabbed at each other but the referee decided that De Vanna was being obstructed and awarded the free kick to Melbourne. Kyra Cooney-Cross drove the free kick into a dangerous area, close to goal but low enough that Willacy couldn’t easily gather, Ayres rose to meet it and the ball fell for Longo to sweep it home from close range and send Victory into half time 1-0 up.
The Wanderers introduced Khamis after half time and the attack immediately took on a more dangerous shape, her guile and experience was needed to compliment Henry’s pace and provide another target for the visitors’ wingers.
The pace of the game did not decrease in the second half but neither side found many easy chances to score, for that credit has to go to both sets of defenders, with crosses by Matos and Barbieri cut off by Morrison and Orgill for Melbourne and WSW respectively.
Khamis had a difficult chance to level the scores after the otherwise faultless Gabby Garton skied her clearance and it landed 18 yards from goal, Khamis tried to hook it over the scrambling goalkeeper but her effort cleared the crossbar.
Up the other end Lisa De Vanna sped past the Wanderers defense in trademark style and fired a shot from her left foot and forcing Willacy into a strong diving save.
Rosie Galea swiveled curled an attempt on goal for Western Sydney and Cooney-Cross tried to deliver a spectacular sealer from long distance, in both cases the goalkeepers looked concerned but in the shots just whizzed wide.
The unpredictable nature of the game continued until the dying moments, substitute Lia Privitelli raced after a long ball that Willacy was already arriving at, the Wanderers keeper cleared the ball but Privitelli slid after it and with two feet slid straight through her, it was poorly timed and poorly executed and even she looked surprised to only receive a yellow card for it. The saving grace might have been that she did not have studs up and looked to try and tuck in her legs at the last second, but she was lucky to not see red, fortunately Willacy was unharmed but unfortunately for her the game ended in a 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.
With that win, Melbourne Victory look almost certain for a top four finish, they play Perth Glory twice in the final games of the season and though they should not take them lightly, they will go in as favourites.
The season is too short for everybody, but it feels particularly true of Western Sydney. They look to be just finding their groove and although they did not get the result on this occasion they have a young brigade of weapons such as Henry, Sarah Hunter, Courtney Nevin and Libby Copus-Brown who are supported by some experienced players. Copus-Brown has been shifted into a deeper midfield role recently and has been increasingly influential. Hopefully they can keep most of this side together and with a few additions can be a threat next season. They are not technically out of it this year, but everything will have to go their way in the following weeks, but as Sarah Willacy’s save showed, a little luck is never out of the question.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Cooney-Cross, Ayres, Longo, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis.
Scorer: Longo 43.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.
Referee: Georgia Ghiradello.
Attendance: Behind Closed Doors.
Ben Gilby spoke to four of Australia’s leading women’s football journalists who also present The Far Post Podcast. Sam Lewis (Guardian Australia), Anna Harrington (AAP Newswire), Angela Christian-Wilkes (Beyond 90 AU) and Marissa Lordanic (Beyond 90 AU) talk to him about their show and how they view the domestic and international game in Australia right now (4/3/21).
We opened the chat by discussing how the podcast came about. “The four of us came together as part of a larger group of friends who all went to the Women’s World Cup together in France 2019. But we’re all lifelong football fans. We’ve all covered the game as volunteers and for media organisations. We’ve written hundreds of articles between us for print and online, covered major tournaments, commentated matches, appeared on radio and TV and other podcasts to talk about and analyse the women’s game.”
“The podcast began in the middle of Melbourne’s lockdown as a little bit of a joke. Thankfully a few people encouraged us to actually pursue it. We had a few zoom meetings about how we wanted to approach things and have been recording almost weekly since September 2020.”
“At its heart it’s a football podcast. We’re a bunch of friends who also happen to be fans of the game. We love talking about the action on the pitch, having a laugh at the lighter moments, and trying to add nuance and analysis to matters on and off the field. There’s an absolute abundance of podcasts on football, especially men’s football, but fewer on women’s football and even fewer still with an Australian focus. It’s the kind of podcast we’d all like to listen to so we went ahead and made it.”
Despite football having to compete with Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Cricket, the Matildas and their stars are loved and have a pretty high profile in Australia. I wondered how the Far Post crew could explain this profile: “Support from the public is always a little dependent on being successful and since the 2015 Women’s World Cup when the Matildas became the first senior Australian team to win a knockout game at the tournament, people have taken notice of them. The team has played good football and has always been filled with incredible players, but women’s sport globally was starting to have a moment and Australia and football were no different. The team was so good you couldn’t ignore them and once the public got to know them and fell in love with them it’s continued to grow.”
Whilst it’s great that so many Matildas are now playing for top clubs around the world, I wondered what their feeling was on the positives and negatives are of the situation on domestic Australian women’s club football.
“We’ve kind of gone through the full gamut of emotions with the Matildas exodus,” the Far Post group said. “There was so much worry and anxiety about how the W-League would fare in those early stages from all of us. And for the most part it was valid. The general belief was how can we attract fans when all those big names that the general public will recognise aren’t there? What is the standard of football going to be like without the very best Australian players?”
“But as we got closer to the season and now in the season proper I think the community as a whole has realised this is overall a good thing. There are so many more opportunities for young players who had perhaps previously only been making substitute appearances or fighting for a place. Now they not only have the opportunity to shine but the responsibility to make the big plays and be the game changers for their teams and so far they’re absolutely delivering in spades.”
“It’s a shame that we arguably never fully utilised the star power of the likes of Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley but we’re beginning to see the emergence of new stars. If we continue to give them the strongest possible platform here in Australia – a professional league with a full home and away season – they will continue to showcase their talent. The football has still been good and exciting even if it isn’t filled with the names and faces so many people are instantly familiar with.”
This season’s W-League campaign has produced some hugely enjoyable football and things are quite open at the top and bottom of the table. The focus for the W-League now is to keep attention high for supporters and the general media with home World Cup ahead. The Far Post’s views on what needs to be done to achieve this is exceptionally important.
“The league itself has been doing a great job first and foremost with making sure we have a season to enjoy! The permutations with Covid and borders has meant it’s been a real logistical nightmare. But the league and the players and the clubs and everyone else involved have been adaptable to their immense credit.”
“There has been some great content produced highlighting the players to watch and the storylines that are emerging from the season. Broadcasting has been a bit of an issue and it’s a topic we’ve covered extensively on the podcast. It’s pretty much universally acknowledged that growing the game involves people being able to watch it and that hasn’t always been the case this season. A functioning, high quality broadcast should be the minimum standard now in the W-League.”
“How the game is broadcast is massively important. Making it accessible has been achieved thanks to every game being available to stream and the one game a week on free to air. There needs to be more coverage generally but engaging with the media that is currently out there shows the people in charge that there is an appetite for more of this kind of coverage. This means not only reading and sharing the work of the major sports media companies but engaging with the passionate and dedicated fan-made media too.”
In terms of where the W-League goes next, one of the priorities has to be a full home and away season, given the inherent unfairness of the current schedule. “People have wanted a full home and away season forever. You ask anyone associated with the game about how to improve the W-League and one of the first things they will mention is extending the season,” the Far Post gang told me.
“The league has improved in so many ways – minimum remuneration and medical standards have been brought in, the league is more visible that it has ever been thanks to streaming services. The next logical steps in that continued growth is a full home and away season and a fully professional league. Covid has thrown a spanner in the works in so many ways, including financially, but a full home and away season should be a priority for the new independent leagues.”
One of the major plus points of this year’s W-League campaign is the emergence of some fantastic talent. Whereas the likes of Kyra Cooney-Cross, Jamilla Rankin and Jada Whyman-Mathyssen has caught the eye of Impetus so far, I wondered who the stand out players for The Far Post group are:
“There are so many good players with so many interesting stories to look out for. Kyra Cooney-Cross at Melbourne Victory has grown into this super dynamic midfielder since she debuted at the age of fifteen (and she’s still in her teens!). There’s players jumping up from the NPLW competitions (elite state leagues) across the country like Catherine Zimmerman and Mariel Hecher. Teagan Micah is a Matilda but has spent most of her career in the US college system so we’re being treated to her spectacular efforts in goal. Emily Condon and Dylan Holmes are doing good things at Adelaide United. Lily Alfeld has been awesome for Perth Glory. Tara Andrews and Michelle Heyman are by no means new to the W-League but their golden boot battle is going to be fascinating. Is it too late to say all of them?”
At the other end of the spectrum are vastly experienced players who are absolutely smashing it at the moment – led by Michelle Heyman and Lisa De Vanna. “How good! They are just two of the amazing stories in the W-League this season. Michelle is looking to chase down Sam Kerr’s all-time W-League goal scoring record and Lisa is showing us all just how excellent she is and has always been.”
The next three years is potentially really exciting for the Matildas with the Olympics, Asia Cup and World Cup. I asked the Far Post gang what they felt would success in this period realistically look like.
“It’s a huge three years and when you add in the 2024 Olympics in Paris it’s even bigger! We can’t look too far ahead and we also need to take into account how Covid has changed the entire landscape and factor that into the definition of success.”
“We still don’t have a full complement of countries qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The Matildas last played a competitive match in March 2020, the USWNT have played three games in that time with another three lined up for February. European teams were taking part in Euro qualifiers throughout 2020.”
Without looking too far ahead, bettering the 2016 Olympics result will be a priority for this year. Similarly going one better in the Asian Cup in 2022 will also be super important. After winning the 2010 edition, the Matildas have lost the last two Asian Cup finals to Japan 1-0 so reclaiming that trophy – and maybe even getting one over Japan – would be great.”
With the next Women’s World Cup being co-hosted in Australia, we ended our discussion by talking about what the legacy for the competition should be in Australian women’s football.
“Every Women’s World Cup has grown from the one before it and the benefits to the host nations are well documented. We as Australians also know that hosting big tournaments is a massive deal and is sure to inspire the next generation of kids.”
“A lasting legacy for this tournament encompasses all levels of football. The Matildas doing well on the pitch would obviously be awesome. In turn, the W-League needs to prioritised and professionalised so it can truly reach its full potential as the place where Matildas are made. Women in this country will hopefully be able to play football professionally right here in their own backyards. Grassroots clubs will hopefully be using the next few years to increase their capacities and upgrade their facilities to ensure the influx of interest post-World Cup can be met”
“Everyone who wants to get involved after witnessing the Women’s World Cup here should be able to whether that is as a player, a coach, or a ref. It will also hopefully inspire more people – especially women – to get involved in governance, the media, and the admin side of the game. Plus fans should be able to enjoy even more quality football after getting to enjoy a month’s worth of the very best football on the planet.”
A new episode of The Far Post Podcast drops every Wednesday and can be found here: The Far Post (buzzsprout.com). They can also be found on Twitter: @TheFarPostPod
In our latest #MidweekDub feature, we focus on Kyra Cooney-Cross. The Melbourne Victory starlet has just turned nineteen years-old and is firmly established as one of the biggest hopes among the next generation of Australian women footballers. Kieran Yap profiles Melbourne Victory’s youngster who is almost certainly to become a Matilda in the very near future (3/3/21).
It was her debut season, she was up against the star-studded Melbourne City and was directly facing Alanna Kennedy. The 15-year-old Melbourne Victory attacker gathered the ball, knocked it forward fearlessly and exploded past the Matildas defender, she held off the physical challenge and shot on goal. Unfortunately the strike was saved, but Australia had gotten its first hint of what Kyra Cooney-Cross was capable of.
She signed for Melbourne Victory in 2017, and made sixteen appearances for the club scoring twice before departing to Western Sydney Warriors in search of more game time for the 2019/20 competition.
In her time there she added to her growing highlight reel and developed into a more consistent player.
A brilliant curling shot to score from outside the area and an audacious back heel to set up a Kristen Hamilton goal were just two of the efforts that made her nomination for the W-League Young Footballer of the Year a no-brainer.
Her return to Melbourne Victory has seen her take on more responsibility in the team. In her first stint at the club she was used sparingly and often off the bench but in 2021 she has started every game and been vital to the midfield and attack.
She has gone from being a quick striker or winger to a player who is increasingly dominating games and threatening the opposition off either flank or through the centre. She has become a player that the opposition cannot ignore but has the mobility and work rate to be almost impossible to mark out of the game.
Cooney-Cross is a clever, quick and inventive attacker, she can finish chances as well as she can supply them and is dangerous from set pieces, in the 2019/20 season she scored her first goal for WSW with a free kick, an in-swinging curling ball into a dangerous area that caused panic in the box and bounced past the keeper.
Melbourne Victory have surrounded their returning prodigy with talent and experience, she is supported by Lisa De Vanna and Melina Ayres in attack with Annalie Longo, Amy Jackson and defender Angie Beard behind her. The team may not be specifically built around her but she has been given the support to play her natural game and has increasingly become the barometer for her side’s fortunes.
Cooney-Cross has the pace to dribble past players and the ball control to do this in the middle of the pitch making her an unpredictable and entertaining player to watch. Her goal against Newcastle Jets in round seven this season was a perfect encapsulation what makes her special, not so much for the finish which was from an angle and off her non-preferred left foot but for how she had a quick glance up for a better option before scoring. In this piece of play she showed the speed to burn off the challenges, the skill to carry the ball at pace, the vision to assess her options and the class to finish perfectly.
Despite not yet breaking into the senior Matildas side, she has been a fixture for the youth teams, scoring an incredible 14 goals in as many games at Under-17 level and seven times over eight appearances at for the Under-20’s, she was included in a training squad prior to the 2019 World Cup and although she didn’t make the final squad for France, on current form a full international cap surely awaits.
At her age and with her talent she is simultaneously a star player of the league and one to watch for the future, consistent, inventive and often spectacular Kyra Cooney-Cross could hopefully become the next big thing in Australian Football.
Canberra United 1–1 Melbourne Victory (28/2/21).
By Kieran Yap.
Only two points separated the sides as Canberra United in fifth visited fourth placed Melbourne Victory in hopes of leapfrogging them on the ladder and a win for either team would be a massive boost to their finals hopes.
Victory began the game on the front foot, the attack of De Vanna, Zimmerman and Ayres looking mobile and lively from the kick-off. Canberra had an early shot on goal by Grace Maher but it was Victory who took the lead before 10 minutes.
Angie Beard, who has been consistently dangerous and versatile down the left flank this season, received the ball out wide, one-on-one with young defender Jessika Nash. She dropped her shoulder and lifted the ball, skipping past the challenge and into space. Beard looked up and hit the ball high towards goal, it somehow bounced off the underside of the crossbar and over the line for a spectacular opener by the Victory captain. Whether she intended to score directly or was aiming for a teammate makes very little difference, it was great wing-play and a deadly ball in. The only player more shocked than Beard was Keely Richards in goal who seemed to assume the ball was going over the bar before it somehow dipped under.
Victory continued their dominance, Lisa De Vanna tried hooking a shot on her left foot that Richards was equal to and Amy Jackson in her record breaking sixty-seventh Victory game and wearing the armband for the day hit an effort over the bar.
De Vanna again was a threat when she raced behind the defenders but Kendall Fletcher did very well to block the shot and Kyra Cooney-Cross tried her luck with an optimistic long distance strike that had Richards back peddling frantically but flew wide.
The home side was dominant in general play and Canberra looked unable to enjoy any meaningful possession of the ball, but their defence withstood Victory’s best efforts. Claudia Bunge saw her header flash wide and a Lisa De Vanna goal seemed certain when she shaped to round Keely Richards until the goalkeeper calmly took the ball off her with a perfect tackle 20 yards from goal.
While Victory struggled to convert their chances, Canberra took theirs, seconds before the half time whistle Michelle Heyman played the ball to Bianca Galic who only needed one touch to put Nickoletta Flannery into space behind the defence. The speedster struck it sweetly, low and into the bottom corner without breaking stride, a perfectly taken goal to level the scores.
The second half was a more even contest, both teams went in search of a winner Amy Jackson created an early chance for De Vanna who was denied by Richards again with a strong near post save from close range.
Flannery played with confidence, her pace was a constant menace to the Victory defenders and after running at a back peddling Bunge and Morrison she shot from the edge of the box but Garton was untroubled. Heyman tried from a similar position, her shot was hit with more power but missed the target.
Victory were still enjoying space down the flanks and their best chances were coming from crosses, Polly Doran’s cross from the right looked destined for Annalie Longo at the goal mouth but Kendall Fletcher was able to intercept the ball. Canberra continued to test Garton from long range with a Galic missile just fizzing over the bar and Laura Hughes bouncing a shot just wide.
As the game edged towards the 90th minute Longo had the chance to win it after she twisted into a shooting position close to goal, Richards put out a glove to provide a strong instinctive save and the ball bounced across the face where Lisa De Vanna lurked. She charged at the ball to tap into an empty net but Jessika Nash reacted quickest to clear off the line and ensure a valuable point on the road for Canberra United.
Melbourne Victory have a short wait to get those three points, they host Western Sydney Warriors on Thursday night and they will be hoping Catherine Zimmerman is fit after going off in the first half of this game.
Canberra defended well and although they were undone early by a freak of a goal they fought their way back into the contest against an in form side. Next week they face the fearsome attack of Brisbane Roar, their season is still very much alive but they will need to be at their best for the final few matches.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Cooney-Cross, Zimmerman, De Vanna, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Longo, Markovski, Privitelli, Eliadis.
Scorers: Beard 9.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Nash, Ilijoski, Keir, Fletcher, Galic, Flannery, Maher, Hughes, Koulizakis, Heyman. Substitutes: James (GK), Goldstein, Grove, Satchell, Taylor-Young.
Scorers: Flannery 45+2.
Referee: Kelly Jones.
|Western Sydney Wanderers||9||3||1||5||8||17||10||-9|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Newcastle Jets 1–2 Adelaide United (28/2/21).
By Ben Gilby
Adelaide United took a step closer to Finals Football with an important victory at the Number Two Sportsground.
Newcastle Jets boss Ash Wilson made several changes from their last game with Hannah Brewer and Lauren Allan coming back into the team along with Chloe O’Brien and Panagiota Petratos who were promoted from the bench. Adelaide United welcomed back Chelsie Dawber who was missing last week due to illness and there was also a return for Sian Fryer-McLaren in goal.
Newcastle Jets began looking to make up for a disappointing performance at home to Melbourne Victory last weekend. Yet it was Adelaide who began on the front foot with Mallory Weber being stopped from getting a shot away eventually by Tessa Tamplin who tidied up well.
Newcastle replied when Allan played an inch perfect ball through to Tara Andrews who got a shot away which went narrowly wide of the right hand post.
The opening exchanges were hugely enjoyable with both teams on the attack. Weber almost put the visitors ahead when her turn and shot on the left of the box cannoned back off the post. Less than two minutes later they had better luck with a stunning goal. The returning Chelsie Dawber was found by Maria Jose Rojas and beat Gema Simon by curling a superb effort into the top right hand corner.
Yet the see-saw nature of the start was perfectly evidenced straight from the resulting kick-off as a long ball found Simon who pounced on some confusion by Dylan Holmes to curl a cross-shot into the net.
The “you score, we score” spell of three minutes continued when Holmes’ ball in wasn’t effectively dealt with by Tara King which allowed Emily Condon to smash the ball into the net.
Rojas then created some trickery along the left hand side which allowed Holmes to get an effort away.
With just over half an hour played, Charlotte Grant fouled Andrews on the right just outside of the box. Simon’s free kick found the head of Andrews but it was well wide. Sunny Franco had an effort shortly afterwards which was comfortably dealt with.
With three minutes of the half left, Simon’s free-kick found Andrews again and, with Matilda McNamara allowing her more space than you would expect, the header was poorly directed wide.
The half-time whistle brought to an end a hugely entertaining opening forty-five minutes with both sides looking strong and creative.
There were several tasty tangles at the start of the second half, first Sunny Franco threw Charlotte Grant to the floor and then Hannah Brewer put a tackle in on Maruschka Waldus which saw the Adelaide player go down on her collar bone. Both Adelaide players were fine to continue.
With this fiery opening to the second half behind us, matters calmed down. Newcastle had more of the ball from an attacking perspective over the first ten minutes. Their build up play was slick and easy on the eye, but never quite led to anything which bothered Sian Fryer McLaren in the Adelaide United goal.
Adelaide broke with just over twenty minutes left with Chelsie Dawber getting another dangerous shot away which Claire Coelho pushed out for a corner. The flag kick came in and Coelho saved her side again by tipping Waldus’ header onto the bar.
Petratos came so close to levelling for the Jets with a quarter of an hour to go when she took advantage of acres of space to let fly from outside the box with her effort narrowly clearing the crossbar.
Just afterwards, Andrews put in a teasing cross but Franco couldn’t quite direct her diving header on.
Frustratingly for Ash Wilson’s side, it was the story of much of their season – looking excellent coming forward at times but never quite able to make the most of their opportunities.
The second half eventually fizzled out with Adelaide United taking the points simply because they were more able to take the chances that came their way. For only the second time in their history, they have won five matches in a W-League season. Despite a really tough run of fixtures over the closing weeks of the season, it might just be enough to clinch a first ever spot in the finals.
Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, O’Brien, Franco, Davis, Petratos, Allan, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), Bass, Chronis, Harding, House.
Scorer: Simon 13.
ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, I.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Dawber, Hogg, Weber, Rojas, Condon. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E.Hodgson, Campagnale, Kirkby, Mullan.
Scorers: Dawber 12, Condon 15.
Referee: Lara Lee.
Perth Glory 2–6 Sydney FC (28/2/21).
By Ben Gilby
Sydney FC ran out comfortable winners at Dorrien Gardens in a game which saw them come out on top thanks to scoring some outstanding goals and taking advantage of some worrying defence from the hosts.
Perth named unchanged starting eleven with just two changes on the bench, with Kat Jukic returning after missing the two away games last week due to work commitments and Jamie-Lee Gale coming in for Patricia Charalambous.
For Sydney, Ellie Brush returned with Rachel Lowe stepping up from the bench. Charleeze Rule dropped to the bench and Teresa Polias was out of the squad.
The visitors, stung by their thrashing by Brisbane Roar started on the front foot and earned a corner within thirty seconds and a second before two minutes were played.
With Glory clearing these dangerous set pieces, they tried to maximise their possession by playing close passing triangles in midfield and waiting for the right moment to release the final pass. Sydney hustled quickly and Cortnee Vine intercepted, broke away and won her side’s third corner with five minutes on the clock. A high ball in was hacked clear.
Taylor Ray then looked to off load just outside the box, but was brought down by a rumbustious challenge from Taneesha Baker on her eighteenth birthday, just outside the ‘D’ centrally. The free-kick was far from successful and allowed Caitlin Doeglas to break down the right and play in Baker but the Sydney defence held out.
The visitors had clearly done their homework on Perth’s build up patterns and there were regularly two Sky Blue shirts snapping at the heels of the Glory player in possession. The pressure forced errors in the early exchanges which merely added to Sydney’s stranglehold on the game.
Perth’s first effort came ten minutes in and an excellent turn and shot near the penalty spot from Doeglas was well held by Jada Mathyssen-Whyman.
Vine was having a field day down the right and a cross field pass began a move which ended with Princess Ibini’s weak effort being saved by Lily Alfeld.
Vine created more danger down the right on the twenty minute mark and earned the Harbour City side a free kick which Taylor Ray swung in. Vine’s looping header was caught under the bar by Alfeld.
Perth responded instantly with a promising link-up between the two teenagers Hana Lowry and Taneesha Baker. It resulted with Baker’s effort skewed into the side netting. Four minutes later the home side saw an effort from Marianna Tabain fly over the bar.
The Purples had now settled into the game and were seeing far more possession but since the disastrous season-ending injury to Gemma Craine during their second match of the campaign, Perth are struggling for shots on target and genuine sharpness in and around the box. Something the Glory are not lacking is desire – and a prime example of this came when their Kiwi defender Liz Anton managed to win a tackle despite being prone on the ground with the Sydney attacker towering above her.
Princess Ibini was popping up all over the field and revelling in the freedom she enjoyed whether it be helping her defence down the left hand flank, getting shots away from the centre or joining Vine’s raids along the right.
As the game neared half-time there was absolutely no doubt that Perth would be happy with their progress throughout the opening stanza. They had been under serious pressure but the defence, marshalled expertly by Tash Rigby and with the ever impressive Alfeld between the sticks, had kept a very impressive clean sheet. Once more, although not ahead on the scoreboard, there was plenty for the Western Australian side’s fans to be proud of.
Yet as things have often turned out for Perth this season, there was heartache out of pride. With two minutes remaining in the half, Ellie Brush, just inside from the right hand flank played a pass just outside the box to Remy Siemsen who turned and fired an instant shot past Alfeld to put the visitors ahead at the break.
Within three minutes of the re-start, Sydney again emphasised the importance of having dangerous finishers. Clare Wheeler played a ball out to Mclean on the right flank. She fed Ibini just inside the box. Ibini turned Rigby and fired a rocket into the right hand side of the net.
Siemsen’s alertness was responsible for Sydney’s third with fifty-three minutes on the clock. Once more it was Wheeler with the assist as she played a delightful chip into the box with Siemsen getting between Sarah Carroll and Liz Anton to hit a shot which squirmed under Alfeld and over the line. It was a goal that was avoidable from Perth’s perspective and it further underlined the difference between the sides – potential finishing ability.
A minute later, Siemsen was in once more and her shot had to be tipped over by Alfeld.
Sydney were not finished and on the hour mark it was 4-0 and again, it was a goal which was exceptionally disappointing from a Perth Glory perspective. Ally Green crossed in and Wheeler, allowed way too much room, slid in at the near post in score with Alfeld left worryingly exposed by her defence.
The Western Australians creditably got up off the canvas and swung back at Sydney two minutes later. Kat Jukic’s pass through was not dealt with by Taylor Ray and Hana Lowry was able to fire a low shot from the edge of the box for the seventeen year-old’s first of the season.
Less than a minute later, Perth’s never say die spirit saw them rewarded again. A long throw inside her own half by Deborah-Ann De La Harpe released sub Jamie-Lee Gale down the right and she beat Green expertly before playing in a low cross which was met firmly by Lowry and the Glory were back in it at 4-2. A fantastic response by the young Perth side.
But, with twenty minutes left Sydney extinguished any dramatic hopes that the home side had of completing a famous comeback. Green played a ball down the left to Wheeler who got away from teenage sub Isabella Wallhead with ease, cut across the bye-line and hit a shot into the net.
Immediately afterwards, Alfeld had to be alive to the danger after a quick free kick came in which she had to tip over.
With eight minutes left, Sydney got the ball in the net once more, although celebrations would be quickly cut short. Cortnee Vine beat Rigby and played a high cross into the box from the right and with Alfeld well beaten, the ball come off of Allira Toby’s upper arm and went over the line before being correctly ruled out.
Sydney missed another opportunity to add to their tally when Rigby brought Ibini down in the box and referee Isabella Libri pointed to the spot. Up stepped Wheeler and Alfeld made a fantastic save and Ray’s follow up was also cleared.
To compound matters further, Ellie Brush was on the receiving end of a tough tackle from Wallhead which led to her being led from the pitch with a serious looking knee injury.
Deep into stoppage time, Sydney finally scored their sixth. Ibini cut in from the left, and got past Wallhead, Gale and Carroll to fire in a low effort which looked to have gone in off Carroll to complete the rout.
For Sydney, this was the perfect response to their shocking loss to Brisbane Roar and their hopes of finishing the regular season on top of the table are now looking more realistic than ever.
This was unquestionably Perth’s most disappointing performance of the season – but they showed character to keep plugging away. With Gemma Craine’s absence leading to a lack of firepower, at the very least they need to get their solid defensive shape back over the coming weeks as they look for that all important first win of the season.
Teams: PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, Rigby, Carroll, Anton, De La Harpe, Lowry, Steinmetz, Tabain, Doeglas, Moreno, Baker. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), T. McKenna, Gale, Jukic, Wallhead.
Scorers: Lowry 64, 65.
SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Rule, Mclean, Green, Tobin, Brush, Ray, Wheeler, Lowe, Siemsen, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Hristodouou, Hawkesby, Rule, Toby.
Scorers: Siemsen 44, 53. Ibini 48, 90+5. Wheeler 61, 70.
Referee: Isabella Libri.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1–0 Melbourne City (28/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
This match is at the Wanderers Centre of Football in Blacktown in Sydney’s west. It’s a gorgeous evening and there’s a decent local crowd of young footballers from Blacktown Spartans here to watch.
This is a must win match for both teams. Either losing team can pretty well write off their finals chances. There’s no guarantee a win will get them there either though.
Wanderers are playing 4-3-3 and City are playing 5-3-2 with a bigger emphasis on defence. Early on, the Wanderers seem to be controlling play and have the bulk of possession and territory. There’s a battle brewing between Sam Johnson in attack for City and Georgia Yeoman-Dale for Wanderers in defence as that seems to be City’s primary way forward.
There’s a few runs into the box for both teams but no shots on goal until about 15 minutes in when Teigan Collister releases Bryleeh Henry onto a ball that beats Jenna McCormick. Her shot goes across the face of goal but if better placed might have delivered. There’s no one there to follow up and that chance goes begging.
The Melbourne attacks are foiled at every opportunity and the Wanderers defence looks very strong. Hollie Palmer gets in front with just the keeper between her and goal but both Caitlin Cooper and Danika Matos are on her in seconds, making her turn around. She passes to Chinatsu Kira but she’s swamped too and City have to reset, not getting a shot away.
Kira gets another clear run into goal but Sarah Willacy and Cooper shut her down too. Things have evened up a bit more and Melbourne are looking more dangerous when Emma Checker sends a long pass out on the right to Johnson. She centres it and Alex Chidiac gets a boot to it and flicks it to goal but Willacy punches it safely out for a corner. That was the closest attempt to date and a great save.
The corner is taken short and then crossed. McCormick gets her head to it but can’t direct it to goal and it’s out for a goal kick. Wanderers get a free kick after McCormick takes Sarah Hunter’s feet out from her and Libby Copus-Brown takes it. It’s headed by Henry, then Price volleys it and strikes the crossbar. It bounces back into play but is cleared.
Wanderers start applying a bit more pressure and Collister manages to steal the ball off Tori Tumeth at the top of the box, gets around Checker but her shot is blocked by McCormick in an impressive bit of work both by Collister and McCormick.
Soon after, Russell has the ball on the left and sends a cross just over the head of Hunter, right in front of goal. She just needed to be two inches taller.
Wanderers get a free kick ten metres out from the top of the box and right in front. They try a tricky set play where Yeoman-Dale and Copus-Brown line up to take it. Yeoman-Dale wanders away bored, like she’s decided not to take it, and Copus-Brown slips it to her instead of the waiting hoards. It nearly works but Tumeth sprints over and blocks the ball and it goes off Yeoman-Dale for a goal kick.
It’s all the Wanderers now and Melbourne haven’t got into their half for some time. A ball comes over and dips in front of Price in the box on the right. She cuts back on Eckhoff and shoots but Micah has gathered it safely.
McCormick gets a long ball across to Johnson but Yeoman-Dale is all over it and relieves her of possession. In a rare incursion, Palmer gets the ball and takes it down the left, crosses to Leah Davidson in the box but Cooper wrests the ball from her and clears it. Cooper is reminiscent of a slightly smaller, slightly less aggressive but just as effective, Millie Bright. So solid in defence and completely dependable. Also excellent in the air.
We’re in the last five minutes of the first half when Johnson steals possession and kicks off a run. She passes to Palmer at halfway who passes onto Kira. She taps back towards Johnson who is running up the right wing now. Willacy comes out of the box and misses the ball and is beaten. The goal is open for Johnson. She stumbles and takes a touch giving the Wanderers time to recover but Willacy is still down behind her. She shoots but Nikola Orgill blocks with her chest, right on the line, and Cooper clears it out of the box. It was a thrilling piece of play and a stunning recovery by the Wanderers. It all ends with a free kick for City. Kira’s kick goes under the wall as they jump to block it but Willacy scoops it up safely.
Just before half time Tumeth gets a yellow for a foul tackle on Russell. The half ends at nil all with Wanderers looking marginally better for most of the half except for the last five minutes but ultimately both defences stood up to all attacks.
The second half starts with a Wanderers free kick taken by Copus-Brown that sails over the crossbar.
A ball is sent down the right for Johnson again and Johnson and Yeoman-Dale shoulder charge with Yeoman-Dale coming off second best and left behind on the ground. This play results in a corner and Melbourne have come out fighting this half. Everyone’s in front of goal and Cooper heads it away. Chidiac sends it back in to McCormick who heads it to goal but there’s not enough on it and Willacy has it wrapped up.
Another City attack soon after sees a ball float across the goal but no one there to do anything with it. Once again Johnson and Yeoman-Dale are batting down the right side and this time Yeoman-Dale wins the ball back.
On the other side of the field, Collister gets a yellow for taking down Kira. Immediately after, the other big battle between Tumeth and Collister has them both going for the ball and crashing into each other with Collister coming off second best and falling heavily and hitting her head on the way down. After some treatment, she’s up and Melbourne get the dropped ball.
At 57 minutes, Wanderers have a fairly haphazard attack on goal with the ball in and out of the box and eventually collected by Micah after a weak cross by Collister.
Melbourne are playing a very high line and catch Russell offside.
A goal kick comes out to Johnson and Yeoman-Dale right in front of the field camera. Yeoman-Dale grabs Johnson’s shirt, pulls her down then falls on top of her in a tumble. Johnson pushes her off and in the struggle, things get violent. Johnson is on top and looks like she’s going to thump Yeoman-Dale who puts her hands up in defence. Johnson gets up and hovers over her and it looks like she kicks her while she’s on the ground. Yeoman-Dale is on the ground on her back with her hands exclaiming her innocence. There’s absolutely no love lost here. Rado Vidosic offers to help her up but she’s not interested. Team mates rush in to pull Johnson away as they have further words. Neither are backing down. Both get yellow cards and neither are happy but they both look a bit smug. City get the free kick which goes straight into the box. Offside is called.
McCormick gets a run down the right closely followed by Copus-Brown. She manages to hold her off and get a cross to Chidiac but her shot is to the right of goal.
Melbourne City are on a roll now and sub Rhali Dobson has her turn bringing the ball down the left. Chidiac tries a back flick with the cross but Yeoman-Dale clears it before Johnson can get to it. An Eckhoff to Dobson run is once again stopped by a Cooper header. The header goes to Hunter who passes to Collister. She brings it right up the right flank, passes it through Checker, on the right corner of the box. Sub Leena Khamis picks it up and shoots to the far post. It hits the post and ricochets into goal at the 71 minute mark. It’s 1-0 after a brilliant transition play by the Wanderers. Collister did all the work there bringing the ball up at least half the field. Khamis’ finish was perfect, to slot it past Micah, with a single touch, and into goal. It looked like City had the upper hand for the last ten minutes and now the Wanderers have turned the tables.
Melbourne City launch another attack from kick-off until Collister gets it again and takes off again. She’s very fast. Probably the fastest on the field. She leaves Tumeth in her dust and Checker comes across and runs interference until Tumeth catches up, tackles her and takes her down. Tumeth is on a yellow and gets spoken to but no red is pulled out.
Melbourne City are back on the attack and, after another Johnson v Yeoman-Dale tussle, get a corner. There’s a lot of jostling in front of goal so when the kick comes in, Wanderers get a free kick.
Chinnama gets a yellow in her starting debut game, after a push on Henry. She has been very solid in defence and this didn’t look intentional. The free kick by Copus-Brown goes to the far side and Khamis delivers a rocket header that just misses the left goal post and goes wide.
Melbourne City launch another attack and this time Tumeth takes a long shot straight into Cooper who puts her body on the line yet again. It rebounds off her for a corner. The corner gets cleared by Collister but only to Dobson who shoots. It’s wide but Melbourne certainly aren’t giving up.
Neither is Khamis who has injected some spirit into the Wanderers. Copus-Brown sends a long ball over the city defensive line and both Khamis and Henry break through. Micah comes right out and beats Khamis to the ball and they both take a tumble. The ball lands with Hunter who delivers a lob over Micah who is just recovering. It’s high and it bounces which gives Micah enough time to run back and stop the ball from going into goal.
It feels manic now as both teams are desperate for the points. It’s back and forth a few times. At 83 minutes, Erica Halloway comes on to replace Henry. This is her first match back after an extended period out of the game due to an ACL injury. There really is nothing better than seeing a player return after an injury like that.
Wanderers get a corner that comes in and goes straight back out to Copus-Brown. The second delivery finds both Khamis and Halloway offside but Micah had the ball anyway.
Shortly after Matos delivers a lovely ball to Khamis, once again, clear in the box. She gets a decent shot off but Micah is able to deflect it out for a corner. That was a definitely goal saver.
With only a minute left in regular time, Chidiac brings the ball down the left with Orgill trying to stop her. Her shot to the near post is gathered by Willacy.
We’ve got four minutes of injury time when Chinnama goes down in front of goal with a cramp as the Wanderers are waiting for a corner. She’s off the field and the corner lands on Khamis’ stomach and it rebounds to Kira who clears it.
Down the other end, it falls to Johnson. Cooper and Yeoman-Dale are there and Cooper wrestles it from her and sends it out for a corner. There’s less than two minutes left so this is Melbourne’s last chance for any points. Cooper then Khamis get their heads to the ball to clear it but there’s a foul called for to the jostling.
Melbourne bring the ball back in a last ditch effort. Everyone goes forward and Tumeth crosses to Cain, who’s just come on. Her shot is wide. There’s a bit more midfield play until the whistle blows and Wanderers get the valuable three points after a massive battle.
Melbourne City are dejected and a few of them sit down to contemplate what could have been. How the mighty have fallen. It’s hard to see how there’s any way back for them now.
Melbourne City really stepped it up in the second half but it was Khamis who made the difference for the Wanderers. She had the most shots on goal despite only coming on in the second half. Her absolute scoring focus was evident and her ability to finish got the Wanderers the points. City had marginally more possession but Wanderers had marginally more territory. Corners were the same with 5 each. Biggest discrepancy was in fouls with City having 23 and Wanderers 8.
This was an exciting match with plenty of drama, some classic battles and a hard fought win. Teigan Collister was the player of the match.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.
Scorer: Khamis 72.
MELBOURNE CITY: Micah, Checker, McCormick, Thomas-Chinnama, Johnson, Tumeth, Davidson, Palmer, Hoelsbrekken Eckhoff, Kira, Chidiac. Substitutes: Barbieri (GK), Cain, Muldeary, Robinne, Dobson.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.
As part of our #MidweekDub feature, Ben Gilby profiles Jada Mathyssen-Whyman, Sydney FC’s young and highly talented goalkeeper who is a fabulous role model for female indigenous Australian football players (24/2/21).
Jada Mathyssen-Whyman is one of those players who seems to have been around for a long time – yet she is still just 21 years-old and still pushing for a place in the Matildas squad.
With ancestry from the Wiradjuri and Yorta Yorta (also known as Jotijota) indigenous peoples and with West Coast Eagles Aussie Rules legend David Wirrpanda as an uncle and godfather, Mathyssen-Whyman grew up in Wagga Wagga, which is located 284 miles from Sydney, Jada became a goalkeeping star from a young age.
She began playing football at the age of ten and within a year was selected for the New South Wales Country team At the age of just thirteen, Jada was selected for the Young Matildas for the 2013 Asian Under Sixteen Women’s Championships. Also in this squad were current W-League stars Sunny Franco, Rhianna Pollicina, Georgina Worth, Teagan Micah, Isabel Dalton, Angie Beard and Alex Chidiac.
Two years later, Mathyssen-Whyman played for Australia’s U20 side at the Asian U19 Women’s Championships in China before being selected for the main Matildas squad in 2018 for friendlies in France and England.
The level at which the young goalkeeper was now playing meant many hours travelling from her Wagga Wagga home to play in the NSW Premier League with Macarthur Rams – a round trip of over five hundred miles each week. In addition she was also spending time in Canberra being mentored by the Matildas goalkeeping coach Paul Jones at his Academy.
This was an exceptionally tough time for the whole family which also led to them having to spend some time camping in a tent – a period which Jada now identifies as a period which helped to make her stronger personally. Eventually, the Matthysen-Whyman’s made the move to Sydney which enabled Jada to attend Westfields Sports High School – which served as the pilot for the then FFA’s High Performance Football School Program.
Whilst at Macarthur Rams, Jada was voted as Goalkeeper of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
In 2016 she was offered her first W-League contract with Western Sydney Wanderers. At the time, she told Rebecca First of the local ‘Leader’ newspaper: “It will probably be scary, but pretty awesome at the same time. What I am most excited about is playing against Lydia Williams (now of Arsenal), she’s one of my biggest inspirations in goal.”
That inspiration comes from Williams not just being an outstanding goalkeeper, but also as a fellow indigenous Australian. “I was watching TV when a story about Lydia came on, it stated how she was indigenous and a goalkeeper also…I was instantly filled with enjoyment as I watched her,” Mathyssen-Whyman told Ann Odong in 2016.
Her first season in the W-League with Western Sydney Wanderers started with a bang in the big derby against Sydney FC. That campaign saw Jada make seven appearances before suffering the agony of a torn thigh against Newcastle Jets which ended her season.
She came back and played a further twenty-eight games for Western Sydney Wanderers over the following four seasons and suffered injury heartbreak once more, with a long term knee injury. before joining Sydney FC for the 2021 campaign.
Mathyssen-Whyman is aware of her status as a role model to young indigenous Australians. “Seeing what indigenous athletes too like a long time ago Cathy Freeman, now Jade North and Lydia Williams, Kyah Simon as well, players like that show me that my dream can come true and hopefully what I do can help other kids;” she said in 2018.
Jada has subsequently become involved with John Moriarty Football, an organisation who, in partnership with Football Australia, are dedicated to helping young indigenous Australian footballers. Additionally, the young goalkeeper also does volunteer youth work for Glebe Youth Service who support young indigenous Australians in remote communities.
With Sydney FC going so well in the W-League campaign this season, Mathyssen-Whyman will be aiming to add a Grand Final winners medal to her cabinet in the coming months. Whatever happens, she is a player and an individual to keep a close eye on.
Impetus was absolutely delighted to be given the opportunity to hold an interview with Hana Lowry, one of the brightest stars for the future of the women’s game in Australia. Already a Young Matilda and a W-League regular for home state side Perth Glory, Ben Gilby asked Hana to critically review her career so far and discuss her aims for the future (21/2/21).
Hana Lowry is spoken about by many as, potentially, one of the brightest stars among the next generation of Australian women footballers.
The seventeen year-old Western Australian grew up in Cockburn, about twelve miles from Perth, and went to Coogee Primary. She went on to study at John Curtin College of the Arts which is the state’s leading football program in secondary schools.
Hana began our chat by describing how she was first introduced to the game: “I have an older brother who has always played football as did my dad, so I was immediately introduced to the game as soon as I was born!”
“I started football properly when I was seven playing with the boys in Cockburn up until I was 14. I then moved to the Western Australia National Training Centre (NTC) program in the under 15’s and I have now been there for three years. I was selected for my first state team in under 12’s and since them have played at the national youth championships at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales as well as the NTC Challenge – which is a competition where the different state representative sides take on each other.”
It was two years ago that Hana’s ability was brought onto an international stage when she was selected for the Junior Matildas (Australia’s U17 national side).
“In 2019 I was selected for my first Junior Matildas camp and throughout that year travelled to Laos, Tonga, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands as well as Thailand for the Asian Championships. I was given a scholarship with Perth Glory in 2018, and in 2019 I got my first contract and made my debut.”
The teenager has many people to thank for helping her on her footballing journey. “My family are definitely my biggest supporters. My brother was the reason I started playing and he has always been there for me and giving me advice in football. They have always been there for me and have sacrificed so much to support me in any way they can. All my coaches from Cockburn, to the NTC, John Curtin College Football Program and Perth Glory have all been so supportive and have helped me to improve as both a player and person.”
Whilst Hana’s senior footballing career is still in its early stages, I wondered what her biggest challenge so far has been: “I have been lucky to not have too many significant setbacks. Going into lockdown earlier in the year was definitely a challenge for everyone who plays sport. Going from seeing your team every day to only being allowed to train alone was challenging. However it allowed me to take some time to work on my own weaknesses and also made me realise how important playing in a team environment is.”
Perth Glory have been particularly badly hit by the impact of the coronavirus restrictions. The total closure of Western Australia’s state borders for most of 2020 meant that it was very late into December that the team’s new arrivals, including head coach Alex Epakis, could get going. The club have also played half the number of games that the majority of their W-League opponents have due to a new state lockdown over the past month, which has now been lifted.
Despite these difficulties, Perth Glory have been trying to make the best of a tough situation and the work of new coach Alex Epakis in developing the new squad has gone well. Hana told me about the qualities that Epakis has brought to the club: “Alex has been amazing since he has arrived at Glory. He creates a very good environment both on and off the pitch which allows the team to work well together. He is very focused on creating a positive atmosphere which allows the team to have a strong bond. Both Alex and the team always push to create a high intensity at training.”
Despite the many postponements and changes to their match schedule, Hana feels the squad remain in a good place: “Obviously the changing in fixtures has been a challenge for the team, however the team has been incredibly flexible and adaptable and not allowed it to affect how we are at training. We haven’t let it affect us and know that we must be ready to play whenever we are able to do so.”
Perth’s four matches to date in the W-League have seen narrow losses against Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers and an outstanding draw away to title contenders Canberra United. As part of a squad with a number of hugely talented teenagers, I wondered how Hana viewed the early games: “Although the results have not gone our way so far, we have definitely showed improvement as we get further into the season. Being a very new team, we are getting used to how each of us plays and this will continue as we get more games in.”
This was always going to be a transitional season for Perth Glory and the beginning of a long term project of bedding in a number of young, locally developed players, so I asked Hana what success would look like for the team this season: “Success for our team is getting better each game and in doing so, getting good results. An improvement of performance every time the team steps onto the pitch and winning as many games as we can.”
We closed our discussion by examining the high points of Hana’s short career so far and looking at what goals she wants to set herself in the medium term: “Being selected for the Junior Matildas was definitely a dream come true and stepping onto the pitch for the first time with the team was very special. The team had a unique bond which allowed us to achieve some great results especially in Thailand. Playing at a World Cup has always been a dream ever since I was little and being able to on home soil would make it very special.”
“Over the next five years I want to improve and work hard to get better. It is definitely a goal of mine to play for the Matildas one day and get more experience in the W-League to grow as a player.”
Sydney FC 2–1 Adelaide United (22/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
It’s a gorgeous clear day at Cromer Park, possibly a bit hot for playing football but perfect for watching it. Sydney will be hoping to make amends for their drubbing last week against the Roar. The result is unlikely to see either team drop out of the top four in the table but both would like to solidify their position with three points.
Both Sydney and Adelaide are playing a 4-3-3 formation today with the hosts kicking off and they apply the pressure straight away. An early corner is cleared by Adelaide. It’s wave after wave of Sydney attack with one notable clearance landing on the roof of the building next to the field.
A second corner is also cleared as Adelaide have a clear height advantage. For the first fifteen minutes, Sydney have the bulk of possession and the game is mostly in their half. Adelaide have a couple of forays into their half but with the exception of Mallory Weber bringing it into the box on one occasion, they aren’t looking too threatening yet.
By the same token, their defence is standing strong and the game moves to the midfield until Princess Ibini brings the ball down the left to the top of the box and passes it to Remy Siemsen who has just run into an offside position. Her shot goes wide anyway but play is called back for the free kick.
Sydney retrieve possession and catch Adelaide slightly unaware. Some quick passes around the top of the box sees a pass from Ally Green send Siemsen into the box with Adelaide defence in hot pursuit. Her shot bounces straight off the keeper, Annalee Grove. Sydney restore possession again but eventually it goes out for a throw in for the hosts.
Adelaide step up and are putting pressure right back on Sydney. Maria Jose Rojas is making inroads and looking dangerous at the top of the box. That attack is cleared with no damage done.
Not long after Emily Condon gets the ball in midfield and passes across to Charlotte Grant who’s in the open on the left. Unusually, Ibini comes in clutch in defence with a burst of speed to a sliding tackle that clears the ball for a corner. The corner drops right in front of goal and Jada Mathyssen-Whyman leaps above everyone else to snatch it out of the air.
Sydney play out of the back but Adelaide are making it difficult to get through. Soon enough, it’s one tackle too many and Adelaide are back in possession. They pass back to the keeper and Grove’s clearance is intercepted by Cortnee Vine. A challenge bounces towards the keeper and she has it safely once more, despite Vine’s imminent arrival.
Adelaide are back pressing and Georgia Campagnale sends a great pass through to Holmes who crosses but Mathyssen-Whyman beats Weber to the ball.
Sydney build again and bring the ball up the field through a series of passes. When Siemsen gets it, she lays it off to Wheeler on the right and in the box. See takes it right down to the line and passes back. Maruschka Waldus blocks the cross out for a corner.
Teresa Polias’ corner goes to the far side of the box where there’s no Sydney-siders at all and is cleared. The clearance is picked up by Green and brought down the left. That move ends in another corner for Sydney. This time the corner goes straight to Siemsen in front of the box and she heads it past Grove for the first goal of the match. 1-0 Sydney at 40 minutes.
Adelaide try to immediately return fire and have a run down the right. The cross is straight to Mathyssen-Whyman though. The ball is sent out to Green who passes to Taylor Ray as Adelaide press again. Her pass back to Natalie Tobin is miscalculated and bounces over her head and out for a corner in a rather poor effort.
The corner goes to Ibini, who heads it backwards across the face of goal to Matilda McNamara facing goal. She heads it towards goal but Clare Wheeler is able to head it clear. As Charlize Rule brings it up the right flank, Isobel Hodgson comes in late with her tackle and floors Rule. She gets a free kick for her efforts.
The ball is quickly up the other end and Ray lobs a ball to Vine who brings the ball into the box but it goes just out of reach and the keeper has it wrapped up.
Just before half time, Dylan Holmes chases a ball to the goal line on the left, cuts back in and gets past Ray. Tobin blocks the cross and, soon after, play is stopped to deal with Siemsen who has hurt her ankle.
Two minutes of injury time are announced and Sydney continues to press to no avail until the half time whistle is blown.
Adelaide kick off in the second half. Sydney gets a corner very early on. Polias’ kick floats high and long to drop in the middle of the goal mouth right in front. Vine jumps high and beats Grove’s outstretched arm to head it in goal. 2-0 Sydney at 48 minutes.
From a throw in virtually straight after kick-off, Ibini nutmegs Kahlia Hogg and gets away a pass to Green on the left. Green crosses to the far post and the ball is batted away by Grove before Vine can get there. It comes out to Wheeler who takes a lovely on-target shot but it’s straight to Grove who has to absorb the power with her body.
Very soon after, Green has the ball again on the left but her cross finds Wheeler offside this time.
Next attack from Adelaide sees Rojas on the right, come right down beside the near post. Tobin gets just in front of her and punts it up to Mathyssen-Whyman. She initially catches it but realises it’s a pass back and drops it like a hot potato. The ball rolls down her body and she sort of flutter kicks it away and through Rojas’ legs and clear. They are very lucky as no one was expecting that and Rojas was right there and it could have so easily deflected off her. Mathyssen-Whyman gives a wry smile knowing she got away with murder.
Adelaide are in strife when a pass back hasn’t got enough oomph and Ray chases it down. Grove just beats her to the ball and clears it safely. Green then brings it back down the left and her cross had Siemsen and Vine perfectly positioned to pounce but Grove rises above and snatches the ball away.
From a free kick, Adelaide execute a wonderful series of passes through midfield that sees the ball delivered to Hodgson on the right with Ibini in chase. Tobin closes down the angle and gets the clearance. Soon after, as Adelaide are back on the attack, Ray gets a yellow for a shirt pull.
At 62 minutes, Adelaide have a free kick. Weber takes it and it sails curling towards goal. The Adelaide team rushes forward with one attempted header by Holmes not connecting but McNamara is following up and connects perfectly to send the ball to the back of the net for her first W-League goal. It’s game on and the score is now 2-1 in favour of Sydney.
The home side retort with a run down the left wing. The throw in sees a painful hip clash between Meleri Mullan and Green, who goes down. The ball lands with Ray who smashes it towards goal only to have Waldus head it behind. The resulting corner lands straight on top of the net.
At 74 minutes, Siemsen passes to Lowe in the box, she spins and losses sight of the ball which is cleared out to Wheeler, who is always in the right place at the right time. Wheeler belts it towards goal but it’s got a little too much uplift and it skims the crossbar. It’s just a matter of time until Wheeler scores a worldie.
As the clock ticks down, Adelaide dial up the pressure. There’s a couple of runs into their top third and then Rojas and Weber attack McLean as she tried to clear it out of the box. Rojas ends up with it and they are both in the clear. Rojas sidesteps Tobin then shoots. She goes to the left of Mathyssen-Whyman but the Sydney keeper has anticipated it and throws herself in that direction and blocks what should have been a certain goal.
The last five minutes are very transitional with the ball up and down the field. Polias gets a yellow for wasting time after a free kick is awarded to Adelaide. There’s four minutes of extra time announced as Toby gets a yellow for a late tackle on McNamara.
The free kick goes up to the Adelaide box and Holmes shoots. The shot is blocked and rebounds back up the field to Hawkesby. She lobs it further upfield with Toby running it down. Grove comes right out of goal and Allira Toby beats her to the ball, heading it over her and towards the left corner. It bounces high as Toby and Emily Hodgson speed towards it. Hodgson gets a foot to it and sends it into the air again. This is like a panto where Toby can’t see the ball. It’s behind you! Hodgson is able to head it out and Grove is back in goal.
It’s quickly back down in the Adelaide third and a throw in sees a snap shot by Holmes deflected to the cross bar and into the top of the net. The referee gives a goal kick instead of a corner much to the disappointment of Adelaide.
Adelaide are not giving up and continue to pile the pressure on. In the dying moments Sydney make a break and Ibini ends up in the right of the box and shoots. Grove is able to block the shot as the full time whistle goes.
The intensity really ramped up in the last fifteen minutes but neither team could break through. Both teams certainly displayed why they are in the top four and displayed top class defending. Sydney had the upper hand during most of the game and their skills in the set pieces were the deciding factor in the end.
Clare Wheeler got player of the match with an extraordinary work rate re touches and tackles and two cracking shots on goal.
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Rule, Green, Mclean, Tobin, Polias, Vine, Wheeler, Ray, Ibini, Siemsen. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Hristodouou, Hawkesby, Lowe, Toby.
Scorers: Siemsen 40, Vine 48.
ADELAIDE UNITED: Grove, I.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Hogg, Campagnale, Rojas, Weber, Condon. Substitutes: Fryer-McLaren (GK), E.Hodgson, Kirkby, Mullan, Tonkin.
Scorer: McNamara 64.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
|Melbourne Victory||7||4||1||2||15||11||13||+ 4|
|Adelaide United||8||4||1||3||13||12||13||+ 1|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||8||2||1||5||7||17||7||– 10|
|Newcastle Jets||7||1||1||5||9||14||4||– 5|
|Melbourne City||7||1||1||5||7||17||4||– 10|
|Perth Glory||5||0||1||3||2||9||1||– 7|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Brisbane Roar 4–0 Perth Glory (21/2/21).
By Ben Gilby.
Larissa Crummer scored a dream goal on her eagerly awaited return to the W-League after a two year injury lay-off as Brisbane Roar ran out comfortable winners against a game Perth Glory outfit in a match played in front of a big crowd in thirty degree heat at Lions Stadium.
There was plenty of interest before the game with on-field matchups. Notably, the teenage McKenna sisters were coming up against each other. Leticia had established herself in the Perth side last season before moving to Brisbane Roar for this season and her younger sibling Tijan is making her first inroads into the Glory side this campaign. Another former Glory favourite, Kim Carroll, who spent five seasons in WA, lined up in the Roar orange and black along with Morgan Aquino, who kept goal for Perth last season.
This was always going to be an exceptionally tough challenge for Perth Glory, who were just on their way back in the competition after Coronavirus related border restrictions and have only played half the number of games that some sides have. Factor in a game in Sydney less than three days earlier, a trip to the only unbeaten side in the W-League was not exactly the fixture schedule of choice that the Western Australians would have gone for.
Brisbane started well initially with Tameka Yallop looking particularly dangerous. Perth were looking to maximise retaining possession with skipper Tash Rigby asserting her influence with Alexia Moreno looking to offer herself around the box without being quite able to get an early shot away. Glory boss Alex Epakis would have been happy with the way his team set out their stall in the early exchanges.
Emily Gielnik got the first shot on goal after ten minutes. The Matilda cut in from the left hand wing, got away from Liz Anton and got a fierce shot away that Lily Alfeld did well to push away.
Just sixty seconds later, Roar teenage sensation Jamilla Rankin played Gielnik in again down the left and Alfeld had to make another decent save.
Just before the twenty minute mark, Glory’s seventeen year-old Taneesha Baker, playing only her second W-League game got away from Winonah Heatley thanks to some outrageous skill on the left and played in a dangerous cross that Caitlin Doeglas couldn’t quite get on the end of.
However, Brisbane made Perth pay for missing this opportunity and a defensive error shortly afterwards. After they had originally dealt with a free kick from Kim Carroll, Perth gifted the ball to Yallop who played a ball across to Leticia McKenna who in turn found Mariel Hecher. Her cross eventually was laid off by Isobel Dalton to Olivia Chance and the Kiwi fired a sensational left footed effort into the net from outside of the ‘D’ giving Alfeld no chance.
Perth responded well with Moreno holding the ball up well. Hana Lowry showed great maturity to win a corner off of Clare Polkinghorne which the Queenslanders dealt with and quickly broke away.
Emily Gielnik strode purposefully through the middle of the park and saw Alfeld off her line and from just inside the Glory half lobbed a glorious shot over the Perth keeper who couldn’t do anything other than help push it in with twenty-seven minutes played.
Just after the half-hour mark, Brisbane almost grabbed another sensational goal. Winonah Heatley chipped a ball in from the right flank which cannoned back off of the crossbar with Alfeld beaten.
With five minutes of the half left, Baker got through again down the left for Perth and put in a cross which Lowry got a touch to before being brought down by Polkinghorne with the play being waved on.
Gielnik was denied just before the break after she managed to get a shot away despite the close attentions of Deborah-Ann De La Harpe with Alfeld getting the slightest of touches that put the ball out for a corner.
The second half opened with a rainbow across Lions Stadium and the Roar furthering their bid to find the mythical pot of gold at the end of this W-League season.
It took five minutes of the second half for the game to be finally put to bed. Emily Gielnik was given far too much space on the left and she cut in, beat Sarah Carroll with ease and fired a shot into the far corner for her eighth goal of the season.
Mariel Hecher was gifted a free-kick near the right hand corner flag which was floated in by Jamilla Rankin but a combination of Tash Rigby and Taneesha Baker cleared the danger.
Perth pushed forward just before the hour mark with Hana Lowry creating down the right and finding Caitlin Doeglas. Mariana Tabain managed to get an effort deflected out for a corner. Deborah-Ann De La Harpe curled the flag kick in and it was met with a powerful header from Malia Steinmetz which went wide.
Roar responded with Olivia Chance firing in a long distance effort after being played in by Isobel Dalton, but it went well wide of the left hand post.
Perth produced some excellent continued attacking efforts in this period with Alexia Moreno turning Polkinghorne beautifully which led to Tash Rigby putting in a dangerous cross. The Glory also brought on Tijan McKenna to come up against her older sister Leticia with twenty-five minutes left.
Fellow teenage sub Isabella Wallhead then found Moreno. The nineteen year-old played a sensational cross field ball to Doeglas who controlled it beautifully and cut back on her left foot but fired over.
Brisbane responded with Tameka Yallop receiving the ball outside of the box and curled an effort just wide of the left hand post. Shortly afterwards, Hecher showed great strength to beat two defenders and fire in a great cross which no-one could get a decisive touch on.
With just over twenty minutes left, there was a welcome return to the W-League for Larissa Crummer who came back two years after a dreadful broken leg injury which ended a period of her career which had seen her amass twenty caps for the Matildas, three W-League championship medals and the competition’s Golden Boot and Young Player of the Year awards.
As the game entered the final ten minutes there was concern for the Roar as Emily Gielnik left the field injured.
On eighty-three minutes, Crummer turned and payed in a teasing low cross which was met by Kaitlyn Torpey but the ball went over.
It took just another four minutes before Crummer got a dream goal on her return. Torpey played a low ball in from the left and Crummer got ahead of Patricia Charalambous to gleefully hit the Roar’s fourth to complete the scoring.
Perth Glory’s Caitlin Doeglas said: “It was probably our best performance so far in terms of keeping possession. The weather was quite humid, not what we’re used to in Perth. We had to keep it tight at the back and focus on playing our game and taking our chances up front.”
In the end Brisbane Roar kept their unbeaten record intact comfortably and looked persistently threatening. The skill and experience in this team is something which could well eventually be the difference in their favour in this season’s W-League.
For Perth, this was a game from which they could take a number of positives – they played some lovely passing football at times and did threatened the Roar defence – but they still struggle to convert those chances into goals. They are a team with a lot of potential, albeit one who will take a while to reach their best.
BRISBANE ROAR: Aquino, Heatley, Polkinghorne, K. Carroll, Rankin, Yallop, Dalton, Chance, Gielnik, L. McKenna, Hecher. Substitutes: Worth (GK), Torpey, Horsey, Freir, Crummer.
Scorers: Chance 23. Gielnik 27, 50. Crummer 87.
PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, Rigby, S. Carroll, Anton, De La Harpe, Lowry, Steinmetz, Tabain, Doeglas, Moreno, Baker. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), T. McKenna, Charalambous, Morgan, Wallhead.
Referee: Kelly Jones.
Newcastle Jets 0–2 Melbourne Victory (21/2/21).
By Kieran Yap.
After a lockdown enforced week off, Melbourne Victory travelled north to play Newcastle Jets for the second time in three weeks. It was a game that Newcastle had to win to maintain a chance of making the top four but they were up against the same side that had defeated them 4-2 in the previous round.
Melbourne welcomed back Lisa De Vanna to the starting line-up and Annalie Longo returned to the squad from injury, Newcastle had the in-form Tara Andrews up front supported by Rhianna Pollicina and brought Claire Coelho back as goalkeeper.
Victory started on the front foot, the attacking trident of Melina Ayres, De Vanna and Catherine Zimmerman pressed aggressively, any attempt by Newcastle to play out from the back was prevented and any time they did manage to clear the ball it was intercepted by Amy Jackson or Mindy Barbieri in midfield.
Despite this early dominance, Newcastle managed to create the first chance of the game, Rhianna Pollicina controlled and turned in attack and clipped a beautiful pass over the defence to Sunny Franco whose shot missed the target and flew over the bar. Her search for her first goal continues.
Victory responded immediately, Kyra Cooney-Cross embarked on a run down the left flank and was fouled, she took the resulting free kick herself and curled it in perfectly into the vicinity of Kayla Morrison. The Victory centre back met the ball cleanly and headed it over Coelho to put the visitors 1-0 up in the eight minute.
The ball in by Cooney-Cross was wonderful but all the power and direction was from Morrison, Coelho was slightly off her line but was beaten by an excellent finish.
The visitors kept the pressure up and ensured that Newcastle were pinned back into their own half, frustrations started to show early with players committing needless fouls when starved of any meaningful possession, the Jets were lucky not to be two goals down and had Coelho to thank for preventing Ayres extending the lead. Lisa De Vanna found the young striker in the six yard box, she shifted into enough space to get the shot away but it was blocked well when a goal looked certain.
The Melbourne attack was largely clicking but for a few instances of Zimmerman and De Vanna moving into the same space, when the two linked up well though they looked a deadly combination, a ball whipped in from De Vanna found the American in front of goal but the pace of the pass made it difficult to turn in and it was another let off for Newcastle.
Kyra Cooney-Cross was busy throughout, dribbling, probing and testing the home defence, in the 24th minute she lined up a shot from distance that thundered off the crossbar to the relief of the Newcastle fans.
Minutes later, Newcastle’s luck ran out and Victory had their second goal, Melina Ayres received the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box, thinking quickly she played a short through ball ahead of Catherine Zimmerman who burst past her marker and shot beyond Coelho to make it 2-0.
Newcastle had struggled to get into the game but before the half time break they managed to forge two great chances for Tara Andrews to pull one back. The first after she controlled a long pass into the box off her chest, she hit the half-volley cleanly and on target but Gabriela Garton managed to save it at the near post, the second was a close range header on goal, she met Gema Simon’s cross well and timed her run perfectly but the ball flashed wide.
Those two chances would be the last real opportunities to Newcastle and the second half followed much the same pattern as the first. Victory chased down Newcastle when they had the ball and maintained possession when they got it back, Cooney-Cross continued to torment and Lisa De Vanna saw her left foot strike saved comfortably after some clever footwork to find space.
Victory again struck the woodwork when Mindy Barbieri lined up for a free kick around 19 yards from goal. Her previous goal this season was from a similar range against Melbourne City, she had struck it venomously on that occasion, this time she opted for placement, the result was nearly spectacular but the ball bounced off the crossbar.
Melina Ayres had another good chance to score after she rose to meet an Angie Beard cross into the box, but she couldn’t redirect the whipped in ball on target, De Vanna and Zimmerman tried to play a neat exchange of passes through the defenders but Zimmerman couldn’t quite reach the final ball and Cooney-Cross again shot from distance but missed off her left foot.
The young playmaker was a menace with the ball from the first whistle and Newcastle struggled to contain her, when she left Victory for the 19/20 season she was used mostly as a speedy striker or wide player, on her return she becoming a dominant midfielder. Newcastle had no answers for her mobility and skill to the extent that Rhianna Pollicina was shown a second yellow card after clipping Cooney-Cross following a typical mazy run through the middle of the pitch.
It was a comfortable win for Melbourne Victory in the end, their only disappointment would have been that they did not score more and if goal difference comes into play for the final ladder it may be a day they see as a missed opportunity.
Newcastle did not resemble the side they had been for much of this season, they lacked attacking ideas and looked outrun and outworked all over the pitch. While they are not mathematically out of contention for finals, time is running out and they will be looking to return to the dynamism and creativity that has been more typical of them this season.
Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, House, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), O’Brien, Petratos, Chronis, Harding.
MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Zimmerman, Cooney-Cross, Barbieri, De Vanna, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Longo, Markovski, Privitelli, Eliadis.
Scorers: Morrison 8, Zimmerman 30.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1–0 Perth Glory (21/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
It’s been a difficult journey for the Perth Glory this season. Although Western Australia hasn’t really been too badly affected by Covid, they keep closing their borders to the eastern states thus meaning the team can’t travel. To date they’ve played Adelaide United twice and Canberra United once resulting in two losses and a draw.
They bring with them a young team with five players making their W-League debut this season. Seventeen year-old local product Taneesha Baker is making her debut tonight. For the Wanderers, one of their most experienced players, Leena Khamis, is being rested and is not even on the bench. Seventeen year-old Bryleeh Henry is taking her place up front.
Wanderers are kick-off. The ball is up and down a bit with a couple of runs into each box but no notable plays until a cross comes in from the right to Julie Russell who spins her marker and gets a shot off at the top of the box. It doesn’t have a lot of power on it and is easily covered by the Glory keeper, Lily Alfeld.
Tash Rigby kicked off a Perth counter attack with a run down the right and a cross that went via Hana Lowry but eventually out over the goal line. The clearance is intercepted and sent out to Baker who has a crack from way outside the box. It’s not a bad effort but goes just wide to the left. Not a bad idea as the Wanderers defence is pretty solid, so going over is one way through.
Shortly afterwards Glory find themselves with the ball at the top of the box. Alexia Moreno slips a perfectly weighted pass through into the box for Caitlin Doeglas to run onto. She squares it to Lowry who sends it forward just a touch too much. As Sarah Willacy dives forward for it, Georgia Yeoman-Dale clears it out of the box to the left. That was very close for Glory. If Lowry had struck that instead of touching it, it probably would have gone in.
Wanderers get another attack spearheaded by Yeoman-Dale on the left who gets it forward to Russell. Russell performs some magic getting through a number of defenders before shooting. It’s straight at Alfeld though and is gathered safely.
A little later Yeoman-Dale makes a half field run into the box to lay off to Bryleeh Henry but they are not quite on the same page and the ball goes out for a goal kick as Henry twists the wrong way.
At this stage the Wanderers look to have the upper hand making more consistent runs. The game is quite transitional though but the Wanderers are getting in front a bit more and dominating the possession.
About 31 minutes in Henry gets the ball from midfield and dribbles it into the box with Rigby and Liz Anton in hot pursuit. They perform a pincer movement and crush her from both sides. All three go down in the box. It’s considered a fair tackle and no penalty is awarded.
Post the clearance, Libby Copus-Brown nicks the ball and scurries away on the right. She drags it back and crosses but it’s straight to the keeper as Henry had fallen over in the box and couldn’t get to it.
Teigan Collister is being heavily marked by Rigby on the right wing but manages to evade her to lob a lovely ball right in front of goal but Deborah De La Harpe gets to it first and is able to clear it.
Shortly after, Copus-Brown passes out to Collister. She gets another clear run down the right, passes to Danika Matos who is able to make the cross but it just goes over the head of Olivia Price, who can’t connect. Baker brings it out of the box and up to half way but her cross-field pass is straight to Copus-Brown. She distributes to the right corner of the box and Collister and Alfeld are both racing to it and Alfeld gets there first.
At 44 minutes, Cooper brings the ball up the midfield right to the top of the box and gets the ball to Russell on her left. She takes one touch then slams it to the left of Alfeld who gets a hand to it but can’t deflect it out of goal. Wanderers score and it’s 1-0 just before half time. It’s Russell’s first goal for the Wanderers this season.
One minute of extra time is announced and Glory jump on the opportunity to use that minute. Malia Steinmetz sends the ball out right to De La Harpe. She crosses to the face of goal and it’s headed to the back of the box by the Wanderers. Anton picks it up and shoots straight into a couple of players. Lowry picks up the rebound and pokes it across to the right of goal where Willacy pounces on top of it. Half time is called shortly after.
Perth kick off the second half and are immediately attacking. An early press sees some action in Perth’s front third but no real threats on goal.
Shortly after it’s up the other end and a goal clearance goes straight to Copus-Brown who takes a long range shot. It’s on target with a bit of power and is deflected into the top bar by Alfeld in what was a goal saving move.
Wanderers are applying the pressure now and Russell gets the opportunity for another shot on goal. It’s on target but doesn’t have enough power to be a threat to Alfeld. Not long after, both Collister and Henry are foiled in their shooting attempts in the box after Collister intercepted a clearance.
After a brief attack by Perth, Cooper kicks a long ball to Russell, who brings the ball down the left flank, right into the box past two defenders. She sends it across the face of goal and Henry gets a toe to it but can’t control it and it just dribbles to the right of goal and out, very luckily for Glory.
It must have been deflected by Glory and the resulting corner goes to Yeoman-Dale at the top of the box. Her shot is a bit lacklustre but gets to Russell who turns and shoots. The shot gets lifted straight up, clips Lowry to Alfeld who bats it up over the top bar. Next corner is short to Nikola Orgill, who sends a long ball straight to Alfeld. She pushes it down in front of her and it drops in front of Hunter. She shoots and it bounces off Alfeld again and back out to Collister. She gets two defenders on her immediately and they clear it out to the right, safely. Glory survive an intense attacking phase by the Wanderers.
Sixteen year-old Tijan McKenna comes on as a sub for Glory and her first touch sends a lovely ball through to Doeglas at the top of the box that brings Willacy right out of goal. She clears it OK but it’s a close call by Perth with the subs having immediate impact.
Sarah Hunter receives the ball in midfield and approaches the box before passing out to Collister on the right. The pass back is back to Hunter but her one touch shot is not controlled and goes wildly to the left in a missed opportunity.
There’s now constant pressure from the Wanderers and Yeoman-Dale and Henry do a 1-2 in and out of the box that sees Yeoman-Dale’s shot sail over the goal.
Glory gets a cross into the box that bounces up into Moreno’s hand. The calls for handball are ignored by the referee but the replay clearly shows a handball. Thankfully it’s cleared with no problems by the Wanderers.
Glory get another opportunity with Moreno sending a cross over to Patricia Charalambous situated at the top of the box. Orgill is straight onto her and she can’t do anything with it and it goes back to midfield.
A Wanderers corner sees a header by Henry pop to Hunter to be headed towards goal but Sarah Carroll intercepts with another header that Lowry in turn heads out. Next corner is punched out by Alfeld but comes back in and out of the box a few times before going out on the side-line.
At 85 minutes, Yeoman-Dale brings the ball down the left in a driven run. She passes to sub Aideen Keene downfield who plays it back across to Copus-Brown. She gets past two defenders to shoot. It’s long and from outside the box but well directed and weighted. Alfeld has to jump to tip it over the crossbar. The corner amounts to naught.
Perth get two late yellow cards in quick succession. First to Moreno after a desperate tackle on Cooper and then McKenna for a very late tackle on Keene.
After the latter card, Galea steps up to take the free kick and it’s pretty obvious she’s going for goal. She skies it and full time is called and Wanderers get their second win of the season and the much needed three points.
Wanderers totally dominated the second half but couldn’t broach the Glory defence. They really are crying out for a more clinical finishers as there were plenty of opportunities created. They had a similar problem last week against Brisbane. The youth and inexperience of the forwards shone through on a night like tonight. Saying all that, the defence and midfield were very solid. Cooper in particular, didn’t put a foot wrong. Yeoman-Dale was exceptional in both defence and attack finding ways through constantly. Copus-Brown bossed the midfield, getting the distribution right time and time again and narrowly missing a couple of shots.
Perth Glory looked pretty good, especially considering their lack of game time. They had a lot more chances in the first half but their defence was particularly impressive, especially Tash Rigby and Lily Alfeld in goal.
Julie-Ann Russell got player of the match. Well deserved. Apart from the goal, she made plenty of attacking runs and created chances all match.
The Glory have a pretty demanding schedule in front of them to catch up on the matches they’ve missed. Hoping it doesn’t take too harsh a toll on the team and they can get some wins under their belt.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Russell, Orgill, Cooper, Price, Hunter, Copus-Brown, Collister, Henry, Yeoman-Dale. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Gomez, Galea, Keane, Middleton.
Scorer: Russell 45.
PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Carroll, Anton, Lowry, Baker, Steinmetz, Tabain, Doeglas, Moreno. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Wallhead, McKenna, Morgan, Charalambous.
Referee: Rachel Mitchenson.
Perth Glory: Rebuilding With An Emphasis on Young, Local Talent
Impetus launches our brand new #MidweekDub feature. Each Wednesday from now until the W-League Grand Final, the #MidweekDub will profile a different W-League club or player. We kick the series off with Ben Gilby shining the spotlight on Perth Glory, a team who have been hugely successful in the W-League in the past and now are in transitional period focusing on a large number of locally produced young players who are full of promise. (17/2/21).
Perth Glory’s Westfield W-League team were formed in 2008 and initially struggled to make much of an impact. However, once they made the Finals (where the top four placed sides play-off for a place in the Grand Final) for the first time in 2012, they quickly made up for lost time.
They have claimed one Premiership – the title for the team who finishes top of the table at the end of the regular season – in 2014, but are yet win a Grand Final. They have come close on three occasions when finishing as runners-up to Canberra United in 2014, Melbourne City in 2016 and Sydney FC in 2019.
The club have been able to boast a number of hugely successful players who have thrilled the club’s fans. Kate Gill scored 36 goals in 47 games between 2009 and 2015. Then there is Matildas superstar Sam Kerr who debuted at the age of just 15 in 2009 and played her last game for Perth Glory in 2019 before moving to the FAWSL with Chelsea.
In terms of overall records, Shannon May tops the all-time appearances list with 120 and Sam Kerr’s 57 goals in 71 games make her the club’s all-time highest goal scorer, while Gill (twice), Kerr (twice) and Morgan Andrews have all taken out the W-League Golden Boot during their time in Glory purple.
Sam Kerr’s departure for England heralded the beginning of a transitional period last season. The situation was not helped by logistical problems which meant that the arrival of the club’s overseas players was delayed which undoubtedly contributed to a slow start to the campaign.
However, after picking up just two points from the opening eight games, Bobby Despotovski’s side secured three consecutive wins from their final four games to finish on a high note. In addition to a stellar maiden W-League season from US import Morgan Andrews, the season was notable for the emergence of teenage midfielder Hana Lowry who made a seamless transition to senior football and headed a spectacular first W-League goal against Newcastle Jets in Round Eleven at the age of sixteen.
Coming into this season, long-time head coach Bobby Despotovski departed. His replacement was announced as Alex Epakis who came directly from a hugely successful spell coaching Sydney University. Extremely driven and dedicated, meticulous in his preparation and an excellent communicator, Epakis has made a very positive impact. The playing group has really bought into his philosophy and he looks to be developing what is a very young group. Epakis and his staff have created a no-excuse environment and taken a very proactive approach to the significant challenges they have been presented with.
Lots of new faces have come into the club this season.
Goalkeeper Lily Alfeld has probably made the biggest impact so far – the New Zealander has twice claimed the W-League Save of the Week and has impressed in every game. Fellow Kiwi Liz Anton has also caught the eye in the centre of defence and scored her first W-League goal in the outstanding away draw with Canberra United.
Gemma Craine, born in England but having played in Western Australia for a number of seasons now also showed great promise, but her season was sadly ended by a serious hamstring injury sustained against Adelaide United at Dorrien Gardens. Deborah-Anne De La Harpe has also made a good start to what is her first season in the W-League. Whilst not new arrivals, other key players this season are skipper Natasha Rigby, with her pace and physicality which have placed her on the fringes of the Matildas squad and Marianna Tabain who has made a welcome return after a spell out of the game and has the pedigree to trouble any defence in the competition on her day.
Nurturing home-grown talent has always been a cornerstone of the club’s W-League philosophy and the current squad contains a host of highly-rated local teenagers, including Hana Lowry, Tijan McKenna, Abbey Green and Isabella Wallhead.
As well as having a new head coach and a significant number of new, young players, things have been complicated further by the consequences of the tight restrictions which has seen the Western Australian state border closed for much of 2020. Pre-season preparation time was severely limited and recruitment itself was heavily influenced by the restrictions.
The ever changing state border restrictions has also significantly impacted the club’s fixtures, as going into a hub in another state (as the men’s A-League players have done) is not an option given that the vast majority of the W-League players have day jobs. Consequently the club have only played three games so far this season, half that of some teams on the W-League. They make their eagerly awaited return to the 2020/21 season tomorrow (Thursday) away to Western Sydney Wanderers before a tough trip to the league’s only unbeaten side Brisbane Roar on Sunday. The trip to Brisbane clocks in at over 2,242 miles one way and is just under five hours by plane in each direction.
Whilst the club have had great success in recent years, in the near future, the club’s aims are to be as competitive as possible while giving young Western Australian players opportunities to impress at senior level. The club are placing great emphasis on playing an attractive brand of football, ensuring that their players and staff are ambassadors for the game within the local community and be as competitive as possible.
Don’t miss our EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Perth Glory star HANA LOWRY which will appear on Impetus this Sunday morning (UK time).
Sydney FC 1–4 Brisbane Roar (15/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
Sydney FC’s one hundred percent winning start to the season came to a stunning halt after they were swept aside by Brisbane Roar in the battle of the only unbeaten sides in the W-League.
After their recent win over Canberra United, yesterday saw another top of the table clash for Sydney, as their defeats of other teams change who is in second place on the table. Sydney had been looking unstoppable but if anyone was going to stop them, it was be Brisbane and this match was very telling.
Brisbane outplayed them on the day. They clearly wanted it more. They were faster, they were getting in front, their attack was more focussed and their defence almost impenetrable. I felt that the Roar didn’t deserve to win against the Wanderers last time out but they had Sydney’s mark yesterday. Sydney tried to win on reputation alone and it wasn’t enough. I’d also question the nature and timing of the substitutions.
Sydney started strong with a hard press for the first ten minutes with their 4-1-2-3 formation providing the necessary firepower up front.
Brisbane kicked off with their 4-3-3 formation but the ball stayed deep in their territory. Initially anyway. Princess Ibini gets an early shot on goal from the left that wakes Morgan Aquino up and causes a good save. Not that she was asleep but she knows she’s living now. There’s a couple of corners and the goal area is busy.
First transition is at five minutes and results in a goal kick.
Second transition is at seven minutes and results in a goal. Olivia Chance brings it down the left and passes to Emily Gielnik in front of her. Gielnik puts a perfect one touch cross direct to Tameka Yallop’s head in front of goal, a quick nod by Yallop and it’s in the back of the net for Yallop’s second goal of the season.
The pressure is on Sydney to reply now and they retaliate by attacking on the right through Cortnee Vine and Angelique Hristodoulou. They get a corner which gets headed around but then captured by Aquino.
Sydney continues to push and the ball goes back to Aquino for safety. She controls it but Clare Wheeler is approaching quickly. As Aquino clears it, Wheeler is on top of her and the ball rebounds off of the Roar player into goal for the equaliser. It’s a bad mistake by Aquino. It’s Wheeler’s first W-league goal after 72 games and the excitement is obvious as she celebrates with her teammates.
We’re twelve minutes in now and this is where things start to fall apart for Sydney. Brisbane ramp it up and Sydney rest on their laurels.
Three minutes later, Yallop makes inroads on the right for Brisbane. She releases Mariel Hecher down the right of the box. Her cross is punched to the left by Jada Mathyssen-Whyman directly to Jamilla Rankin who just taps the volley past the keeper. Two goalkeeper mistakes leading to two goals in quick succession. It’s also Rankin’s first W-League goal at only seventeen years of age. There’s been a lot of that this season.
Brisbane are invigorated now. Sydney get a couple of corners but the Queenslanders defence is solid. On the counter attack, Gielnik gets away down the left and sends a pass forward to Leticia McKenna. She tries to cross to Hecher but Ally Green intercepts with a sliding tackle and stops a certain goal. The resulting corner is eventually cleared after two waves of attacks.
Brisbane embark on a number of penetrating attacks resulting in a couple of corners. Sydney’s defence holds strong but they are very much on the back foot now and looking unstable. Brisbane are controlling the game and it’s being played in their attacking half. Sydney are looking disorganised as Yallop brings a ball down the centre and drives for goal. Her shot from outside the box is deflected by Mathyssen-Whyman for a corner. It’s cleared but the Roar are straight back on the attack. Sydney get some possession but it’s nullified quickly and effectively by the Brisbane defence.
There’s a nice Brisbane play started by Hecher who cuts back a pass to Gielnik. Her cross is glanced away by Hristodoulou right in front of goal. Yallop and Hristodoulou chase the ball to the left and Hristodoulou wins the battle to eventually clear the ball. It comes straight back into Yallop though but her shot is blocked out for a corner. Clare Polkinghorne heads the corner on top of the net which relieves the pressure.
Another Brisbane attack is saved by Green in the box. Late in the half, Sydney get a couple of corners but can’t make anything happen. After a minute of stoppage time, half time is called.
First few minutes of the second half see Sydney re-energised. Mackenzie Hawkesby kicks the ball straight into the referees bum and the resulting restart sees a long ball to the right corner chased by Wheeler. She evades Carroll and crosses to Ibini. She holds it up and draws the defenders and taps it across to Remy Siemsen but she mis-hits the ball and it goes out to the right of goal, in what was a very good chance.
The game swings again and Brisbane are back on the attack. Gielnik takes a long shot into the arms of Mathessen-Whyman. Another long ball in lands on Gielnik’s chest to bounce to the feet of McKenna. Her shot is deflected out by Natalie Tobin for a corner. The resulting ball in glances Polkinghorne’s head to go straight into goal for 3-1 at 54 minutes.
It constantly feels like Brisbane have more players on the field than Sydney, all there in defence and there in attack while Sydney are usually recovering or don’t have the numbers up front.
Charlotte Mclean gets a yellow card for a late tackle on Gielnik. The free kick is knocked out by Sydney so Brisbane get another corner. It goes to the far post and is eventually kicked out by Wheeler. Next corner is taken short and Hecher gets a shot that goes wide to the left. Not long after Yallop finds herself in the clear and takes a shot from outside the box that goes wide. The Brisbane attack is unrelenting.
At 63 minutes, Ibini is off and Charlize Rule, two days short of her eighteenth birthday comes on. It feels a bit of a risk to bring on a younger, less experienced player at this stage but Ibini wasn’t particularly effective anyway, however Sydney’s two main strikers, in Ibini and Siemsen, are now on the bench when Sydney need goals.
Wheeler gets a good run down the right but her cross is wasted by no one being there to capitalise on it.
Shortly after, Yallop directs a missile to Gielnik just by the goal mouth. It bounces off her chest but Whyman is able to clear it. Sydney are getting some attacking runs but they feel desperate and passes are going into empty spaces with no one to run onto them. Opportunities are being wasted and possession lost. At 73 minutes, there’s another strange substitution for Sydney when Cortnee Vine is off and Taylor Ray is on. At this point, I’m not convinced that taking the last experienced forward off is the right move. Although I’m not sure what could save this side right now.
At 78 minutes, a push by Chance is rewarded with a corner. It’s taken short and the cross by Rankin floats to the top near post and Whyman jumps up to grab it but instead pushes it back into the goal. Gielnik almost looks sorry for her but Rankin claims her second goal with eight minutes left.
Three minutes of stoppage time is announced as Brisbane continue their attack. Sydney manage to clear it each time but can’t keep possession. They aren’t passing it or playing out from the back, just doing big largely undirected clearances.
Full time is called and Sydney register their first loss of the season. Brisbane remain undefeated but still second on the table but narrowing the gap to Sydney although the Harbour City side have a game in hand.
Brisbane looked very strong today in producing probably their most convincing performance of the season and probably what we all expected based on what the team looks like on paper.
Jamilla Rankin got player of the match and it’s very well deserved. Two goals, incredible defending and kept Cortnee Vine under wraps. So many tackles. Well done.
Teams: Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Hristodoulou, Green, Mclean, Tobin, Polias, Vine, Hawkesby, Wheeler, Ibini, Siemsen. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Lowe, Ray, Rule, Toby.
Scorers: Wheeler 18.
BRISBANE ROAR: Aquino, Heatley, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Yallop, Chance, Dalton, McKenna, Hecher, Gielnik. Substitutes: Zaffina (GK), Torpey, Horsey, Margraf, Freier.
Scorers: Yallop 8. Rankin 16, 82. Polkinghorne 54.
Referee: Lara Lee.
|Adelaide United||7||4||1||2||12||10||13||+ 2|
|Melbourne Victory||6||3||1||2||13||11||10||+ 2|
|Newcastle Jets||6||1||1||4||9||12||4||– 3|
|Melbourne City||7||1||1||5||7||17||4||– 10|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||7||1||1||5||6||17||4||– 11|
|Perth Glory||3||0||1||2||2||4||1||– 2|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Adelaide Back In Business
Adelaide United 2-1 Canberra United (14/2/21).
By Kieran Yap.
Adelaide United returned to the top three of the W-League with an important win over a Canberra United side who have now won only one of their last four games.
The last time these sides met it was a thrilling 4-3 win to Canberra, on that day Michelle Heyman scored a hatrick and entered the field this week needing only one goal to equal Sam Kerr’s W-League scoring record.
She would get her first opportunity early in the match, she ran onto a long ball behind the Adelaide defense and into a one-on-one with the first gamer and goalkeeper Annalee Grove. A goal looked likely but Matilda McNamara raced back and applied just enough pressure to hurry the shot which Grove saved well.
It would prove a costly miss with Adelaide taking the lead minutes later. A floated ball in by Emily Hodgson was met at the back post by Chelsie Dawber who met it cleanly and cushioned a volley into the back of the net, the pass was perfectly curled in behind the defenders and the finish was sublime leaving Keely Richards with no chance to save it.
Heyman had another chance to score when Kendall Fletcher slipped a defence splitting pass into her path, Grove rushed off her line to cut down the angle and the prodded shot flew just wide of the far post. Heyman looked certain to score and shocked to miss but the teenage goalkeeper had done very well to cover for her defence.
Adelaide were dominating general play but Canberra had created the most clear-cut chances and in the dying minutes of the first half they finally converted one to equalize. Heyman dropped deep, collected the ball in her own half and playing a long pass to Paige Satchell. The New Zealand winger surged into the penalty area and finished at the near post confidently.
Buoyed by the goal, Canberra began the second half on the front foot, attacking, pressuring and forcing Adelaide into counter-attacks, unlike the first half though, clear-cut chances were hard to come by, when Adelaide were presented with one Emily Condon had no trouble converting it.
A pass out from the back was intercepted and played quickly to Condon around 10 yards from goal. She paused, picked her spot and curled it around her marker and beyond Richards to restore Adelaide’s lead. It was a wonderful composed finish from a player that has been in brilliant form this season.
With Canberra surging forward in search of another goal, Rojas was mostly left isolated up front, this is usually a frustrating thing for strikers, on the basis of this game it might actually be Maria Rojas’ favorite position. She delighted in receiving the ball under pressure, turning in tight spaces and twisting defenders until help arrived or a chance opened up. In a brilliant few minutes she set up Dawber whose shot across goal flew just wide, shot after a solo run that Richards did very well to stop and set up Dawber again after racing down the middle of the ground.
Canberra were being well beaten but Paige Satchell again threatened to restore parity with a powerful dipping shot from just outside the area that beat Grove but not the crossbar it was a reminder that the game was still in the balance.
Adelaide should have been further ahead this point in the game and perhaps their best chance came when Richards played the ball directly to Rojas, the Chilean deserved a goal for her work rate and skill in this match but tried to lift the ball over the keeper who caught it easily.
Rojas remained Canberra’s tormenter, playing in Georgina Campagnale whose shot flew wide and Charlotte Grant tried to join the attacking wave with a run and left foot shot that Richards saved at the near post.
Canberra didn’t give up and kept pressing for a goal, Jessika Nash was playing brave, attacking passes from defense to the midfield and the substitute Laura Hughes was busy after replacing Grace Maher. Michelle Heyman played a perfect pass across the box to Hayley Taylor-Young who took a touch and fired the ball at goal only for Grove again to come to the rescue. The debutant rushed off her line and saved, tipping the ball over the bar, the resulting corner yielded no result.
When the final whistle blew Canberra could feel unlucky not to equalize late but Adelaide would have been disappointed to not put the result beyond all doubt earlier. It was an exciting end to the weekend’s football featuring two sides determined to score, Heyman fans will have to wait at least one more week for her to reach her milestone and Adelaide continue to impress on the march to their first finals campaign.
ADELAIDE UNITED: Grove, I.Hodgson, Grant, McNamara, Waldus, Holmes, Campagnale, Condon, Rojas, Weber, Dawber. Substitutes: Toovey (GK), E.Hodgson, Hogg, Kirkby, Mullan.
Scorers: Dawber 11, Condon 55.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Keir, Ilijoski, Nash, Hunt, Fletcher, Galic, Maher, Heyman, Flannery, Satchell. Substitutes: James (GK), Foletta, Hughes, Koulizakis, Taylor-Young.
Scorer: Satchell 45.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1–2 Brisbane Roar (14/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
Brisbane Roar continued their seven match unbeaten start to the W-League season with a 2-1 win at Marconi Stadium against Western Sydney Wanderers.
The Queenslanders have travelled to the emerald city for a long weekend to play both Sydney teams. In the current climate it’s good to get these things done while you can, plus it probably saves on travel expenses and gives better rest between the games. So it’s a big win win for Brisbane before they even start playing.
Courtney Nevin isn’t playing tonight for the home side and isn’t a substitute either. Apparently coach Dean Heffernan is resting her this match and it’s her birthday tomorrow. This results in a reshuffle of the usual team and Yeoman-Dale has moved to left back from the forwards to replace her.
Georgina Worth is out for Brisbane with a knee issue and so Morgan Aquino is making her debut in goal for the Roar. Katrina Gorry is out and we won’t be seeing her playing again this year due to the happy reason of her being pregnant rather than having an injury. Although, like an ACL injury, it will probably take her out for a year so she won’t be going to the Olympics, opening a spot for a young contender.
Wanderers are kicking off playing in 4-3-3 formation and Brisbane are 4-4-2.
The match starts pretty rough with a few tackles sending various playing flying before Emily Gielnik takes a shot from the far left of the box that’s straight to Sarah Willacy.
Sarah Hunter, two goal hero for Wanderers in their last match seems to be being cheered on by the rest of her Year 12 cohort at Pymble Ladies College every time she gets the ball in this match. I guess a few more schoolmates have come along to support her after her stunning game last week. It’s great to see and adds to the atmosphere at Marconi.
Thirteen minutes in, Teigan Collister makes a break down the right for the Wanderers. Her cross is cleared back to Libby Copus-Brown who sends a lovely long ball through to Leena Khamis in the box in front of goal. She chips it to the top right of goal as two defenders arrive and it’s in for her long awaited first goal of the season as the Wanderers take an early lead.
Brisbane are immediately back on the attack and make a few excursions into the box including a corner that comes to naught. Then a cross comes over from the left and is punched out by Willacy. Isobel Dalton comes flying in from outside the box and sends a low one towards goal that lands at the feet of Emily Gielnik who turns and is able to put it to the top right bin of the goal for the equaliser just two and a half minutes later.
We’re up and down the field a few times with Collister continually making good runs down the right for Wanderers. At one stage Khamis takes a long range shot on goal but she puts far too much into it and it is on a trajectory to the moon rather than goal.
Similarly for the Roar, Mariel Hecher is making good inroads down their right, occasionally foiled by Georgia Yeoman-Dale. At one point Gielnik is at the top of the box and passes back to Olivia Chance who takes a lovely strike but it just clears the top post.
A fine pass back from Collister finds no one in a fairly empty box and a chance goes begging for the Wanderers.
Hecher then receives the ball just outside the box. Yeoman-Dale fronts up to her. She has one foot just inside the box. Hecher flicks the ball up to the right and it hits Yeoman-Dale’s hand and a penalty is awarded. Pretty bad luck on Yeo-Da’s part as there’s no way she could have avoided it and she was only just partially in the box. In fact whether her hand was in the box could be debated but it certainly did deflect the path of the ball.
Gielnik steps up to take the penalty with thirty-one minutes played. It’s a fairly slow shot but she sends Willacy to the right and the ball to the left so it’s in easy. As well as putting the Roar in front, this also puts Gielnik level with Canberra United’s Michelle Heyman in the race for the Golden Boot on six goals each.
Just a minute later, Gielnik gets the opportunity for another clear strike on goal but sends it quite wide to the right this time. Straight after, Tameka Yallop is on the ball and brings it down to the goal line. Her cross is brought down but she has it back almost immediately to take a shot but it’s also well wide to the right.
Wanderers get a corner and it comes in right in front of the box. Khamis jumps but doesn’t quite connect but it deflects off Kim Carroll’s lower shoulder. There are calls for a hand ball but in this case, I think the call is right.
Just before half time Jamilla Rankin sends a beautiful cross to the front of goal but it’s cleared safely by a Caitlin Cooper header then brought down the midfield by Julie Russell to pass for a similarly lovely cross by Collister. It goes to Khamis who draws Morgan Aquino and the ball is headed to the left in front of an open goal. Chloe Middleton rushes on to it but her volley can’t be controlled as defenders rush in and it goes up over the net to miss the equaliser.
Two minutes of extra time are announced. A Brisbane attack sees Middleton chop at Yallop and earn herself a yellow and a free kick for Brisbane at the top left of the box. Gielnik will take it, looking for her hat-trick no doubt. As expected, she goes for goal. It’s low and to the right but Willacy is all over it despite an unmarked Polkinghorne rushing onto her. The half time whistle goes and it’s looking pretty even after 45 minutes.
Early in the second half, Wanderers get into the box and Russell is on the left and open when she gets the ball from a cross from Danika Matos. Her shot is a half volley that goes high.
Ten minutes later, Russell gets another shot on goal as she brings it into the box, side stepping a couple of Brisbane players and shoots across the goal and it narrowly misses the top far corner.
Wanderers are immediately on the attack and Brisbane don’t clear it out when they regain possession. Hunter gets it across to Rosie Galea at the top of the box who shoots with some free space in front of her. It’s wide to the left but it looked dangerous and Wanderers are pressing hard right now.
It’s now Brisbane’s turn to attack and Yallop brings the ball through the midfield before passing to Chance on the left who crosses to the goal mouth. Kaitlyn Torpey comes in for it and both Yeoman-Dale and Willacy are there. Willacy gets above and punches it away safely but collects Torpey in her wake who goes down in front of goal. She’s back up after some treatment but it looked like a heavy fall.
Wanderers push again and it’s stuck in the right corner for a couple of throw-ins before Galea flicks it across to Khamis unmarked in the middle of the box. She turns and shoots but Aquino has it covered in some good goal keeping.
Wanderers seem to have the upper hand at the moment and have three shots to Brisbane’s none after 20 minutes of the second half.
In a switch, Hecher gets a run down the left and her cross is kicked out by Matos for a corner. The corner is low and goes through a few people before finding its way to the back of the box to Yallop. She shoots but it’s deflected and goes up high to be gathered by Willacy safely.
A careless distribution by Aquino goes straight to Collister. Khamis is clear in front of goal but the lob is intercepted and doesn’t reach Khamis. In the rush for the ball, Rankin is knocked over and Collister gives away a free kick after a wasted opportunity.
A transition sees Leticia McKenna offside. It’s straight back up the other end again and Russell brings it into the box on the left, kicks it back from the goal line and it’s tipped into the air by Aquino and then headed by Hunter across the goal. It hits the right goalpost and bounces back into play and it’s cleared by Rankin in a very close call.
The Roar attack again and McKenna gets a shot from the top of the box that skims the top post.
It’s straight back up the other end though and Galea extracts a foul on the right of the box from Rankin. Galea to take the kick. She goes for goal to the top right bin and Polkinghorne heads it out to the left. Not sure it had enough on it to get in but it was an audacious move. The resulting corner lands right in front of goal and is headed up and into the arms of Aquino by Cooper. Khamis has been knocked over in the foreground and complains about it but there’s no action on it.
In yet another transition, Gielnik somehow manages to get up from being knocked over in the box to get down to the other end to receive a through ball in the box. Willacy comes right out to deflect it across the goal. Torpey is there to pick it up but her shot goes straight to Matos covering who kicks it out for a corner.
The short corner is crossed by Rankin then punched away by Willacy. The clearance comes back in but this time is snatched by Willacy.
The game has become very transitional now and it’s Brisbane’s turn for a crack. After some play around the box Dalton has a shot over the heads of everyone but there’s not enough on it and it bounces to the feet of Willacy who scoops it up.
Once more back down the other end and this time Henry gets a shot that hits the crossbar. She looks to be offside but it’s not called.
With five minutes to go, a nice ball to Gielnik sees her take a run down the right but her pass back into the box is ineffectual and is cut off and cleared by Matos. It then goes out wide to Hecher but her cross goes to no one and goes out in acres of space on the right of goal. She should have really taken a shot then.
In a slightly desperate effort, Hunter passes to Collister who takes a shot from a long way out. It’s not on target and goes out to the right. The previously well organised Wanderers have morphed to a bit of a shambles as desperation for the equaliser sets in. They need to settle again to be more effective and patient.
In a much better move, the clearance from Aquino goes to Matos who places the ball back to Galea who tips it over right in front of Khamis who runs onto it in the box. She races with Aquino to the ball but Aquino throws herself on top of it before Khamis can connect.
There’s another push by the Wanderers and a couple of incursions are foiled until Yeoman-Dale takes it down the left and crosses to Khamis in the box. A little back heel is cleared by Polkinghorne to Matos who has a crack but she’s a long way out and it was never going in. There’s a minute left.
The clearance is to Cooper who brings it up but it goes out. Wanderers throw in. Yeoman-Dale takes it. Khamis flicks it into the box and Galea sends it back out to Hunter. She passes back to Copus-Brown who sends it back into the box with interest. Khamis picks it up, turns and strikes. It’s on target but Aquino dives and pushes it out with one hand, saving the day for the Roar.
There’s a corner with 5 seconds to go. Khamis heads it over the goal and full time is called much to the relief of Brisbane.
So disappointing for the Wanderers not to equaliser or even win in the second half. They really did dominate although the stats aren’t really showing that. Possession was 48% WSW 52% Roar, territory 47% WSW 53% Roar, corners 4 for Brisbane and 3 for the Wanderers and shots 13 for Brisbane and 11 for the Wanderers which I find hard to believe after the second half. Shots on target were Brisbane 7, Wanderers 3, balls into area Brisbane 25, Wanderers 24 and saves Wanderers 5, Brisbane 2.
Speaking after the game, Leena Khamis agrees that Western Sydney Wanderers were very unlucky and deserved a point at least and big-upped the save by Morgan Aquino, which is nice.
Emily Gielnik gets Player of the Match which I don’t really agree with. Yes, she got two goals and the first was a cracker but the second was a penalty and she had very little impact on the second half. I realise goal scorers often get this award but I think the defenders stepped up, particularly in the second half.
Polkinghorne saved the day many times and Aquino really saved the day, right at the end and was very solid, except for a couple of dubious distributions. Jenkins also had a very solid game both in attack and defence. Khamis, Collister, Yeoman-Dale and even Galea coming on as a sub late in the game all were worthy contenders. But I don’t make these decisions.
So Brisbane have Sydney to play next and I think they need to ask a few questions. Wanderers played well today, perhaps their best match of the season, despite losing. They are mostly a young team with a couple of veterans but were able to take it to Brisbane today. Sydney is also a young team but have a lot more experience playing together. Given the Sydney FC v Brisbane Roar match will be another top of the table bout, it will say a lot about the state of the W-League. I worry a bit that Brisbane are stacked with Matildas yet haven’t been able to perform as expected. Yes, they haven’t lost yet but they’ve drawn four times and didn’t dominate today against a team at the bottom of the table. Their only convincing win was against Melbourne Victory. Anyway, it should be a very interesting match on Sunday.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Middleton, Collister, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Russell, Khamis. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Gomez, Galea, Henry.
Scorers: Khamis 14.
BRISBANE ROAR: Aquino, Heatley, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Dalton, Hecher, Chance, Freier, Yallop, Gielnik. Substitutes: Zaffina, Horsey, Margraf, McKenna.
Scorers: Gielnik 16, pen 32.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
Sydney FC 4-0 Canberra United (9/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
Sydney FC moved seven points clear at the top of the Westfield W-League after a comprehensive 4-0 win over second placed Canberra United, who were previously unbeaten.
It’s Teresa Polias’ 150th game in the W-league, the first player to do so. Incredible really when you consider how short each season is. It really is an achievement. Another record on the line is the all-time leading goal scorer. Michelle Heyman is currently sitting at 69 goals, one behind Sam Kerr’s all-time record of 70. It looks set to be smashed and, despite being a Sydney fan, I’m hoping it’s today so I can witness it.
This is the top of the table clash. Sydney have been victorious in all their matches so far. Canberra have played five but have won three and drawn two. Still expecting this to be close with both teams in form. Sydney will have the home ground advantage of course at Kogarah Oval.
Both Sydney and Canberra are playing 4-3-3 today and the visitors kick off. The opening exchanges consist of a battle in the mid field with both team’s defence standing strong and keeping back any incursion to the final thirds until a foul gives Sydney a free kick.
Polias takes it and its headed straight back out by Canberra. Heyman gets a ball through the centre but is relieved of it by Charlotte Mclean before she can enter the box.
Canberra string together a few passes. Kendall Fletcher passes to Grace Maher who takes a shot which is headed on and provides the perfect opportunity for Heyman to run onto it in the box. Ally Green is right beside her though and bumps her off the ball so she can’t make a decent connection and it’s gathered by Jada Mathyssen-Whyman.
It’s down the other end quickly and Princess Ibini sends a ball across from the left. Mackenzie Hawkesby is not quite quick enough to connect to what would have been a dead cert. Sydney apply a lot of pressure to stay in their attacking third and are rewarded with a number of throw ins. The pressure is building with a couple of runs into the box but no shots on goal yet.
Then a corner is given to Sydney, to be taken by Polias. It lands in front of the goal for a couple of headers before it’s cleared to the left side-line.
Another wave from Sydney sees Remy Siemsen on the right evading two defenders and getting a shot away but Keeley Richards collects it safely. It’s straight back the other end for a solo effort by Nikki Flannery but her shot is under powered and goes straight to Mathyssen-Whyman.
Sydney weave down the right with a number of connected passes and a cross goes into the hand of Fletcher for a free kick near the top of the box on the right. Everyone lines up along the top of the box. Somehow everyone misses the ball in and it floats out to the left chased by Ibini. She darts between defenders to bring it in and passes back from the goal line. It goes past Siemsen and is kicked up by the Canberra defence to Hawkesby’s chest. It bounces off her chest and she volleys it in past two defenders for the first goal. 1-0 Sydney at 16 minutes in. Hawkesby runs off with her tongue out in celebration, chased by her teammates who eventually catch her for a group hug.
After a dominating ten minutes, Canberra get back into the play a bit and there’s a lot more midfield action. The defence is holding strong until Green brings the ball down the left flank and her cross is kneed out uncontrolled by Jessika Nash. The resulting corner sees the ball in and out of the box a few times until a shot by Natalie Tobin is pushed out at with a stretch by Richards for another corner.
The corner is defended well by Canberra and we’re back to a midfield battle. The rest of the half plays out with a couple of build ups by Canberra foiled by Sydney, unrelenting pressure by Sydney including a number of corners but the Canberra defence standing ultimately solid.
There’s one beautiful run down the left by Cortnee Vine from a Green pass but her pass across goal sees no one connect and is out for a goal kick. The Green / Vine connection is formidable. They are both in top form and can cause havoc at will it seems.
The next distribution by Richards is sent directly to Ibini’s thigh and she nearly scores from this mistake.
At half time there’s a substitution and Taylor-Young is off and Satchell is on for Canberra. Canberra come back rejuvenated and get some possession. They look good when they have the ball and I like their passing game. They just can’t seem to breach the Sydney defence though and it’s not long before we find Ibini running into the box and passing to Clare Wheeler for a shot on goal. It’s deflected out and Sydney have their first corner of the second half.
The corner comes across and is headed straight out the other side by Maher for another corner from the opposite post. Next corner is punched up by Richards then headed onto the top of the net by Vine. Shortly after Canberra get a rare corner but the lob is grabbed out of the air by Wyman. Canberra can’t win a trick today.
The next Sydney corner is close but eventually cleared. There is some movement around the box and a couple of blocked shots until Ibini gets a clear position at the top of the box. Her shot is deflected by Richards who is on the ground. Siemsen rushes in to kick it and it hits the top of the bar and rebounds straight down and bounces back while Siemsen rushes in and points to the goal line. Paige Satchell is able to take the ball away down the right flank towards goal. Heyman can’t connect with her cross and the Sydney defence recover to keep it out. The replay shows the ball from Siemsen clearly went in with a massive spin that bounced it back out again but the ball clearly crossed the line. The crowd rumbles when the replay is shown. The lack of VAR has cost Sydney a goal there. Siemsen is trying to argue the point with the ref who is not having it. She might regret that decision when she watches the match back later.
Play continues with Canberra on the attack but once again the Sydney defence proves impenetrable until Siemsen can take a run up field. There’s some passing around the top of the box then Canberra takes back control.
Wheeler stops a foray into the box and once again Sydney are on the attack. This time it’s up the right side and the ball ends up with Vine. She brings it into the box, shoots and it just goes under the diving arm of Richards but shaves the left post to go out in a very near miss.
At 64 minutes Siemsen gets the ball about ten metres from the top of the box. She passes right to Hawkesby who flicks it back to Vine who has positioned herself just inside the box. She controls the ball and takes a snap shot that beats the keeper on the right of goal. It hits the back of the net and Sydney are redeemed and it’s 2-0. Cortnee Vine’s confidence is soaring. If she doesn’t make the Matildas squad for the Olympics, I’ll be very surprised and disappointed. I hope boss Tony Gustavsson is watching this match.
Canberra respond to adversity aggression with Flannery bringing the ball into the box and taking a shot that crossed the face of goal unchallenged.
That doesn’t last long and the ball is shortly back up with Sydney and there’s a corner to be taken from the left. It goes to the back post and Siemsen heads it. It’s grabbed and punched back down by Richards and kicked by Laura Hughes. The kick goes straight to Siemsen who pounds it through the tangle of legs and into goal and is finally vindicated with a recognised goal. She’s pretty happy about it as the score increases to 3-0 Sydney at 72 minutes.
In a similar restart, Canberra have another corner after the kick-off. It’s cleared by a Allira Toby volley. Another ball towards the Canberra goal is cut off before Heyman can get to it. The Canberra icon has had very little involvement so far in this match and is struggling to make an impact.
At 75 minutes, Sydney get a corner on the right. It comes to the back post and Siemsen heads it in for her second of the match and fourth of the season. Sydney go up 4-0.
It’s looking embarrassing now and Sydney are showing their class with Canberra unable to match it. Given this is a top of the table clash, Sydney look to have the Premiership stitched up at this stage. Brisbane may have some better answers next week but Canberra are floundering.
With eight minutes left, a ball comes straight up the field into the box for Toby to run at. Her kick connects at the same time the keeper does and Richards goes down as does Toby in their clash. Richards seems to have come off the worst and needs some treatment. Looks like the contact was in the thigh.
A late slide tackle on Keir by Siemsen gets her a yellow card and Canberra a free kick near the right side-line in their half. It’s initially taken short but for some reason is called back. Next time it goes to the maddening crowd. It’s headed over and to a waiting Rachael Goldstein who kicks through to Mathyssen-Whyman who has gathered it up without any problems.
A Canberra corner is cleared up field and Vine gets hold of it. In a solo run she avoids a defender and shoots. It’s deflected by Lauren Keir for a corner.
The corner is well managed by the Canberra defence. Richards makes a couple more saves from long shots before the end of the match. A final push by Canberra comes to naught. Sydney is victorious 4-0.
The stats come up at the end and very surprisingly Sydney’s possession is 49%. The tale is told in the territory though and that’s 59% for Sydney with 13 corners to Canberra’s 3 and 16 shots to Canberra’s 6. Shots on target: Sydney 9, Canberra 2 and balls into area: Sydney 42, Canberra 15.
Vine is the player of the match after her goal, innumerable penetrating runs and performance in defence. Well deserved.
This really was a dominating performance by Sydney and puts them well clear at the top of the table after six wins from six matches. It’s also Canberra’s first defeat of the season so the mood may be a little sombre on the bus trip back to Canberra.
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Hristodoulou, Green, Mclean, Tobin, Polias, Vine, Hawkesby, Wheeler, Ibini, Siemsen. Substitutes: Offer (GK), Lowe, Ray, Rule, Toby.
Scorers: Hawkesby 16. Vine 64. Siemsen 72, 76.
CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Foletta, Ilijoski, Nash, Keir, Fletcher, Hughes, Maher, Heyman, Flannery, Taylor-Young. Substitutes: Jones (GK), Goldstein, Galic, Koulizakis, Satchell.
Referee: Georgia Ghiradello.
|Canberra United||6||3||2||1||11||10||11||+ 1|
|Brisbane Roar||6||2||4||0||11||4||10||+ 7|
|Melbourne Victory||6||3||1||2||13||11||10||+ 2|
|Adelaide United||6||3||1||2||10||9||10||+ 1|
|Newcastle Jets||6||1||1||4||9||12||4||– 3|
|Melbourne City||7||1||1||5||7||17||4||– 10|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||6||1||1||4||5||15||4||– 10|
|Perth Glory||3||0||1||2||2||4||1||– 2|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2–2 Adelaide United (8/2/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
Western Sydney Wanderers ended a run of losses after gaining a draw against Adelaide United at Marconi Stadium.
When they say Western Sydney, they really mean Western Sydney. Marconi stadium is a long way from the City of Sydney – forty kilometres from my house in the inner west. This is actually my favorite stadium despite the long drive. There’s plenty of parking, plenty of seating, an old school tuck shop and it’s usually not too crowded which I like. It’s also a stadium that, when there’s not a global pandemic, it’s easy to meet the players afterwards and get autographs and photos. And it’s the Wander Women’s home ground.
Adelaide United are playing in their yellow and red away uniform which makes it look like they work at a multi-national fast food chain. Mac attack coming up. Unusually for a women’s soccer team, most of the South Australian side seem quite tall, with the exception of Rojas. They must have the tallest average of all the teams in the W-League by a long shot.
Wanderers are playing 4-3-1-2 and Adelaide are playing 4-3-3. Wanderers kick off, lose possession immediately and are pushed back. They get possession back and drive forward and eventually Leena Khamis takes a shot from outside the box that goes straight to the keeper. She hasn’t scored this season yet and questions need to be asked about this soon. Wanderers are keeping quite a high line and exerting some early pressure.
In this match, possession it more like ping pong. It’s back and forth, passes are badly directed and it’s usually more than one touch to bring the ball under control. For the W-League to get better, the passing game really needs to improve.
Nikola Orgill sends a cross into the box which is headed by Sarah Hunter over to Khamis. It arrives a bit high for Khamis to control and her aerial kick goes wide to the right.
Hunter then passes to Georgia Yeoman-Dale at the top of the box and she dribbles the ball to the left of goal and sends a cross right across the front of goal but there’s no one there to tap it in and an opportunity goes begging.
Adelaide make a couple of forays into the Wanderers half but they result in long shots into Willacy’s arms.
A ball bounces into the box for Yeoman-Dale (Yeo-Da) to take a shot on her left foot but it’s just wide to the right and sails out harmlessly. Looks like she copped an elbow to the nose soon after and it’s bleeding a bit so play stops for that to be attended to.
A long ball from Maria Jose Rojas comes through the centre for Chelsie Dawber to run onto and Adelaide are taking more control. Orgill manages to draw a foul to stop the run. Shortly after, Dawber makes another run into the box that’s foiled by a slide tackle from Caitlin Cooper.
Down the other end, Danika Matos sends a great ball across to Khamis but the header goes well wide to the right of the box. Following up, Yeo-Da gets a free kick from a foul on the right hand side of the box. The ball goes to the far post but Khamis can’t control the header, which admittedly wasn’t in a great position, and it bounces over the goal line.
We’re thirty minutes in and Wanderers look to be the better side with more possession and more chances but Adelaide have looked dangerous on transition.
Speaking of transitions, at thirty-three minutes in, a lob comes in to Dawber from the right and Sarah Willacy is right off her line to meet the oncoming attack. Dawber flicks it up and Willacy gets a hand to it but it’s not enough to deflect the power or direction and the ball hits the back of the net for Adelaide.
Almost immediate after the kick-off, Chloe Middleton gets a shot on goal after a miss-kick by Matilda McNamara but it’s wide to the left.
On another transition play for Adelaide, Dawber sends a long ball from the left to Mallory Weber in the box but Willacy beats her to it and has it safely.
Charlotte Grant kicks off an attack for Adelaide with a nice run and pass into the box that is cleared but goes straight back to Adelaide. Grant gets the ball again on the right of the box and has a little battle with Yeoman-Dale before passing back to Dawber who also manages to avoid Yeo-Da. She crosses a beautiful pass to the feet of Rojas at the top of the box who slips it past Willacy towards the left post. It’s in the net but Rojas is offside so it doesn’t count. I replayed this a few times as the broadcast replay made it look like she wasn’t offside but she definitely was when the ball was kicked so good call. Nice play though.
Another good play by Adelaide sees the ball moving around the box culminating in a header by Weber that skims the top post. Adelaide have stepped it up now.
Three minutes before the break, Yeoman-Dale gets the ball on the right flank. She beats Grant and brings it into the box for the cross. Near the goal line she flicks it back in front of goal. Hunter runs onto it and directs it to the far post and it beats a stretching Sian Fryer-McLaren and Isabel Hodgson’s feet for her first goal in the W-League. She’s obviously got a few friends in the crowd as there’s a lot of excited screaming. We’re level at 1-1 now.
From the kick-off, Wanderers are back with possession after Russell, the Irish international, intercepts a poor pass and gets it across to Yeo-Da, centred at the top of the box. She leans back too much and has skied a sitter.
With a minute of stoppage time, the Wanderers get a free kick after Russell is slightly injured in a heavy tackle. The ball goes to the right of the box but is harmlessly out over the goal line in a wasted opportunity before the interval.
Wanderers are applying the pressure early in the second half and Khamis gets a penetrating run down the left but her back pass is squandered. Western Sydney get a free kick just out from the top of the box after a heavy tackle on Khamis by Maruschka Waldus. Adelaide sets up a five person wall. Yeo-Da to take it. It clears the wall but she’s had too many Weetbix this morning and it keeps going over the top bar.
A Wanderers short corner is cleared by Adelaide but on the way down the other half, Dawber gets an elbow from Orgill and is straight down clutching her throat. It will take her a little while to recover from that and it looks very uncomfortable. Surprisingly there’s no foul and play is restarted from a throw in.
Rojas gets a run into the box but is surrounded by three defenders who relieve her of the ball. She’s technically so good but can’t overcome those numbers.
Back at the other end Russell slides a lovely pass to Hunter who’s threatening a second goal but McNamara blocks the shot and it’s out for a corner. Nevin takes it and it’s to the far post but is cleared out of the box. From a throw-in, both Russell and Khamis get a shot but both are blocked and Fryer-McLaren scoops it up. I’d half like to start calling her Fry-Mac but it doesn’t have the same ring to it and it’s just too redolent of the previously mentioned fast food chain. Big Mac might be more appropriate given her height.
Possession is currently 60 – 40 in favour of Western Sydney and it feels that way with Adelaide very dependent on transitions. But it is working for them.
A nice attacking run comes from a clearance from Fryer-McLaren direct to Hunter who turns it around and passes to Russell who sends a lovely ball through to Matos who runs onto it in the box. Her cross is spectacularly blocked by Waldus who stops Khamis from scoring an almost definite goal. Khamis clutches her head in dismay but later jokes about it with Waldus as they line up for the resulting corner.
Hunter takes the corner and it’s perfectly sent to Khamis’ head at the back of the box. The header is on target but straight to Fryer-McLaren’s safe hands.
Weber’s got some fancy footwork as she slips past a couple of Wanderers to bring the ball down the left. She sends it forward to Rojas who crosses in the box but she’s offside again, in what was a threatening run.
Fiona Worts comes on for United and gets employed immediately in a couple of runs down the left before it’s passed across to Grant on the right. There’s some play near the right corner flag before it goes out for an Adelaide corner. Almost everyone is directly in front of a very crowded goal for this. Inexplicably it goes to the back of the box and is headed away by Yeoman-Dale. Georgia Campagnale sends it straight back in. It’s picked up by Waldus. She gets it out wide and a cross then comes in to Dylan Holmes who takes a high strike off her chest and belts it past Willacy to take Adelaide into the lead again.
After the restart, Adelaide could have got a match clinching third when Rojas is through, but Willacy is quick off her line and gets there first and clears it emphatically.
Shortly after, Nevis makes a break down the left and gets a pass to Teigan Collister but she can’t connect and Fryer-McLaren gathers it up.
It’s straight back up the other end and Rojas is causing more mischief before playing to Condon in the box. Her shot goes high.
Wanderers break back immediately and Collister is off down the right hand side. She crosses back to Hunter who is always following up and in the right spot at the right time and she slots it under the arm of Fryer-McLaren as she jumps sideways and it rolls into goal. Grant takes a desperate lunge to try to save it but ends up prone in the goal with a cramp which Fryer-McLaren helps her to stretch out. 2-2 and we’re level again at 78 minutes. The seventeen year-old Hunter grabs the ball out of goal and runs back towards the centre with her celebrating teammates in hot pursuit.
Adelaide are back on the attack with another Rojas crusade. It’s blocked out for a corner by Orgill this time and clearly no one is giving up. The corner comes to nothing at the near post.
Copus-Brown cops a yellow for holding Dawber and bringing her down. The free kick goes over to the right from the left side but eventually it’s out on the sideline for an Adelaide throw in.
A long ball down the middle finds Rojas in a tussle with Orgill. Orgill goes over and Wanderers gets a free kick but it doesn’t really look like it was Rojas’ fault. Cooper comes through to cover and Rojas isn’t happy about it and there’s a bit of pushing and shoving between the two. Love a bit of South American passion.
The ball goes up to the Wanderers end and there’s a couple of well- connected passes between Copus-Brown and Hunter. The teenager takes another shot, looking for her hat-trick, but it’s not on target this time and sails clear of the goal.
Both teams get a couple more runs into goal including one from Worts with a nice cross that is into empty space followed by a floater from Khamis straight to the keeper.
Rojas gets into the box yet again and passes back to Dawber but her shot is deflected out by Matos for a corner. That play looked genuinely threatening and we’re in the last minutes of a drawn game so the tension is high. Once again, absolutely everybody is in front of goal. This time the ball lands in the middle of the whirlpool. Waldus gets a head to it and it bounces straight up and Galea manages to clear out to the right side-line. Adelaide is applying all the pressure right now and Waldus gets another crack but sends it high over the goal.
Into stoppage time, Collister gets another wonderful cross from the right directly in front of goal but Galea can’t do anything with it under this pressure. Adelaide transition again and Worts is on the left in the clear. She gets it to Dawber who passes back to her at the top of the box. Her shot is just to the right of the post as she tries to curl it, in a pretty close call.
Some sloppy passing by both teams sees two chances squandered before Worts gets it on the right, passes to Campagnale who gets it across to Rojas who is unmarked and onside. She turns and shoots but Willacy has come out, made herself big and deflects the shot in a match saving move. She’s earned her pay today with that save alone. The game ends with extended ping pong in the midfield and we’re drawn two all at full time.
Hunter is player of the match with her first two W-League goals in just her third game. Apart from the goals, she was very solid in defence and all over the park backing up with ferocity. It’s a good call for this award and well deserved for a young player. I watch afterwards and she’s swamped by her friends from the stands that are understandably excited for her. She’s embarrassed by the attention but is lapping it up.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Nevin, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Russell, Middleton, Hunter, Yeoman-Dale, Khamis. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Gomez, Collister, Galea, Henry.
Scorers: Hunter 43, 78.
ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, Grant, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Walder, Campagnale, Holmes, Condon, Rojas, Dawber, Webber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E. Hodgson, Hogg, Worts.
Scorers: Dawber 33. Holmes 71.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau.
Victory Show Character To Stifle Jets Comeback
Melbourne Victory 4–2 Newcastle Jets (7/2/21).
By Kieran Yap.
Melbourne Victory hosted Newcastle Jets at a windy Latrobe City Stadium in Gippsland. Victory needed to win to keep up the pressure on Adelaide in fourth spot above them but The Jets with the in-form Tara Andrews are not a side to be taken lightly.
Victory started aggressively, they moved the ball forward at pace, pressed high up the field and were eager to test Newcastle ‘keeper Nicole Simonsen early and often from long range, looking perhaps to take advantage of the swirly, blustery conditions.
The breakthrough came early, after some tricky wing play by Mindy Barbieri in the 13th minute, Amy Jackson teed up a shot from distance that fell to the feet of Melina Ayres. The Victory striker struck quickly and accurately off her left foot and into the corner, the ball almost crossing the line before the defence had time to react. It was an instinctive strike of great technique that took Simonsen by surprise.
Melbourne kept the pressure up and Catherine Zimmerman was unlucky not to double the lead minutes later after her shot fizzed wide and Barbieri was next to try her luck from long range after Kyra Cooney-Cross created some space with a clever dribble down the centre.
The first half continued to be all Victory, The Jets had trouble clearing the ball or finding any fluency in attack. Cooney-Cross whipped in a free kick that bounced dangerously but wide and Claudia Bunge saw her headed attempt on goal from a corner cleared off the line by some desperate defending.
Newcastle appeared to be doing well to stay in the contest, Lauren Allan tracked back well to stop a mazy run into the box by Lia Privitelli but the corner kicks were coming repeatedly for The Jets to defend and it felt inevitable when one finally resulted in a goal.
Claudia Bunge again got on the end of a corner kick, again it was on target but this time it crossed the line. She stooped down low to meet the ball and connected well, Simonsen reacted quickly enough to reach it, but not cleanly enough to stop it bobbling over for a goal, it was a touch unlucky for Newcastle, but Victory had deserved a second.
Before half time Victory added a third, Catherine Zimmerman who had been a lively nuisance all game collected the ball facing goal and slipped in a well-weighted ball into the path of the overlapping Cooney-Cross. The Victory playmaker, collected it without breaking stride, cruised into the penalty area and after a quick glance to see if a square-pass was on she finished confidently into the far bottom corner off her left foot.
After the break, Newcastle scored early and gave themselves a lifeline, a long ball forward wasn’t dealt with by the Victory defence, and the ball fell to Tara Andrews, she’s been deadly around goal this season and did not hesitate to pull the trigger, smashing the ball past Garton and into the far corner off the left foot. Bunge had done well to contain her up until this point but good strikers only need one half chance and Andrews took hers with deadly efficiency.
Victory substitute Lisa De Vanna set about immediately restoring the three-goal lead, she ran onto a long ball and cut back onto her right foot wonderfully with a back heel move in the box. She shot but was well blocked by some committed defending.
De Vanna again broke free behind the defenders and ran onto a Melina Ayres through ball only to be denied by Simonsen in a one-on-one face off. De Vanna was causing problems with her movement and skill but would have expected to score from that range, Simonsen did very well to narrow the angle and save.
Newcastle heads didn’t drop despite being on the back foot and Rhinanna Pollicina in particular looked determined to impact the game, a great run and pass by Sophie Harding on the left flank found Pollicina in space but her shot from 20 yards was scuffed and did not trouble Garton.
She did not have to wait long for her next opportunity, a long ball from defence found her in a surprisingly amount of space behind the Victory defence but still onside, she spotted Gabby Garton well off her line and coolly lofted the ball over to bring Newcastle to 3-2 and with 15 minutes to play.
Victory responded by going straight on the attack again. De Vanna played in Kyra Cooney-Cross, the young gun strode into the area and shaped to shoot but Hannah Brewer slid in brilliantly to clear the ball. It had to be a perfect tackle, any half-second off and it would have been a penalty and maybe game over.
Newcastle kept trying but Victory had them pinned back again as in the early stages of the game, after a sustained period of pressure Barbieri played the ball wide to Melina Ayres. She had the time and technique to shift inside from the right flank and line up a shot on her rocket of a left foot. The ball flew through a crowded penalty box and nestled into the net to restore the 2 goal cushion and relieve the tension.
The game ended 4-2, Cooney-Cross had a late chance to extend the lead with after racing toward goal and shooting off her right but The Jets were spared a fifth. Victory seem to be clicking, the team has consistency in its line-up and developing it in its performances. They have a skilled, unpredictable and mobile attack and can bring on the all-time leading Matilda’s scorer off the bench when 3-0 up (this feels like a violation of a “Mercy Rule” but I checked and none exists).
Newcastle remain a watchable team. Pollicina was well deserving of her first W-League goal and with Tara Andrews up front they can never be counted out of any game.
It was a thrilling, high scoring game with no broadcast issues, what more could you want from a Sunday evening Dub game?
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Privitelli, Cooney-Cross, Barbieri, Zimmerman, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Martineau, Zois, De Vanna.
Scorers: Ayres 13, 81. Bunge 41. Cooney-Cross 42.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, Allan, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen, O’Brien, Petratos, Harding, House.
Scorers: Andrews 48. Pollicina 76.
Referee: Isabella Libri.
Melbourne City 0-2 Sydney FC (7/2/21).
by Kieran Yap.
After a last minute reshuffle of venues, AAMI Park was the stage for Melbourne City and Sydney F.C to face each other again for the first time since the last Grand Final.
Sydney have been the most consistent side this season, undefeated after four games and putting themselves squarely in the top four, Melbourne City have been a team that has struggled for results but not for lack of effort, but more a lack of luck and perhaps a center forward.
The game started at a fast pace, both teams snapped into challenges and pressed without possession and both tried to play short quick passes when they had the ball. It was an erratic opening, neither team seemed afraid to make an error with fullbacks from both sides keen to attack down the flanks.
The first clear chance of the game came when Harriet Withers was released on the counter attack and after a surging run down the right flank she found Alex Chidiac on the edge of the area. With her back to goal Chidiac controlled the ball and swiveled to wrong foot the defense and leave her with only goalkeeper Jada Whyman to beat.
It looked a certain goal and a player of Chidiac’s quality would have felt confident of scoring, somehow Whyman managed to block the shot and keep the scores level. Sydney hit back through Princess Ibini, the young attacker wriggling between City players and turning to shoot from 18 yards out, the shot whizzed over the bar without troubling Micah but it was a warning to City that they had better not let Ibini shoot too often.
Withers and Chidiac combined again in a similar pattern, this time Chidiac shuffled herself into space and onto her left foot from 20 yards out, hitting a powerful shot just a little too high.
As play began to open up, Ibini got into space, when faced one on one with Teigen Allen she sized up the defender, slowed down a little and put on a burst of pace to cruise in on goal, Teagan Micah did very well to come out and smother the shot. It would be the last meaningful attack of the first half and both sides would have been thankful to their goalkeepers for keeping the scores level.
Leah Davidson and Tyla-Jay Vlajnic had been busy for City with Emma Checker and Jenna McCormick’s partnership at the back denying the visitors any easy chances. For Sydney, Ibini looked dangerous and Ally Green was tireless and skillful on the left side, keeping tabs on Withers while getting forward herself regularly.
While the first half was balanced, exciting and tense it had the feeling of being only a moment of magic or a slip of the foot away from breaking open and when Shinatsu Kira latched onto a badly controlled ball and ran in on goal it looked like that moment had arrived. Whyman again was well positioned to stop it but Kira probably should have done better she couldn’t have known at the time, but this miss would prove very costly.
The ball went up the other end, Courtnee Vine competed with Emma Checker and won out, controlling the ball on the edge of the penalty box. She slipped a perfectly timed pass to the overlapping Remy Siemsen who cruised between the defenders and slotted the ball into the bottom corner, Sydney up 1-0.
It was a well-worked goal, a combination of direct football, clever movement and skilful footwork, both in the pass and in the finish.
The evening would go from bad to worse for City, Courtnee Vine was becoming more involved and looking more dangerous each time she was on the ball. She was responsible for the game altering moment when she received the ball at half way and seeing a paddock of space in front of her, charged toward goal. Vlajnic, who had been a danger to Sydney’s defence with her own runs, sprinted across field in an attempt to halt Vine’s momentum. The result was a missed tackle, a foul and a red card as the last defender, City were now down a goal and a vital player.
City battle bravely, Withers moved centrally and looked like a handful with her pace and tenacity. She found space for a shot that Whyman was equal to and again found Chidiac who couldn’t forge the right angle to score.
Courtnee Vine continued to torment the City defense her speed troubling them again when she ran onto a 40 yard Polias pass, however her shot could only find the side netting.
Another blow to City occurred soon after.
Jenna McCormick had put in a warrior-like shift, beginning the game bandaged and battling through the pain for the next hour. She had defended solidly and looked determined to help drag City back into the game. When the injury caught up to her it couldn’t have come at a worse time, Sydney had a corner, McCormick was receiving treatment behind the goal and City were temporarily down to nine players.
Teresa Polias whipped in the corner kick to the far post and Natalie Tobin rose highest to nod home, Sydney were 2-0 and even taking into account the considerable misfortune and errors by City, they deserved their lead.
City would battle on bravely but aside from some set pieces they did not trouble the Sydney F.C defense. Vine and Siemsen continued to threaten but could not extend the lead. Sydney probably wont mind thought. They had only just arrived in Melbourne that morning and it was an admirable, gusty and skillful win against determined opposition.
Melbourne City will be hoping that Jenna McCormick and Teigen Allen make swift recoveries from their respective injuries, the two Australian Internationals will be vital to salvaging the season. At the other end, Rado Vidosic will be eager to solve their goal scoring problems.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Micah, Tumeth, Checker, McCormick, Allen, Vlajnic, Chidiac, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken Eckhoff, Kira, Withers. Substitutes: Barbieri (GK), Sardo, Thomas-Chinnama, Robinne, Dobson.
SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Hristodoulou, Green, Mclean, Tobin, Polias, Lowe, Wheeler, Siemsen, Vine, Ibini. Substitures: Offer (GK), Hawkesby, Ray, Rule, Toby.
Scorers: Siemsen 51, Tobin 75.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.
Sydney FC 2–0 Newcastle Jets (31/1/21).
Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.
On a drizzly Sunday evening, there’s a surprisingly decent crowd to watch Newcastle take on undefeated ladder leaders Sydney FC at Cromer Park in Manly.
Newcastle kicks off. Straight from the kick off Tara Andrews, in her 100th W-League game, gets the ball at the top of the box and takes a shot on goal. It’s safely in the hands of Jada Mathyssen-Whyman but it’s a bit of a shock for Sydney to start.
It’s back up the other end quickly and it looks like we’ve got a game on our hands as Remy Siemsen starts her campaign. Newcastle defence are all over it though and soon enough the Jets are attacking again.
Rhianna Pollicina is blocked but it goes over to Lauren Allan whose shot goes to the left of goal. Both teams starting off strong.
An attacking push by the Jets sees the first corner to be taken by Gema Simon. It goes to the near post but Alisha Bass heads it across the goal and away from the strikers and Sydney now have possession. A run down the left flank by Clare Wheeler is initially thwarted but the Ally Green does a 1-2 with Wheeler and takes a shot from the left outside the box that’s on target and has Claire Coelho at full stretch to tip it over the crossbar.
Teresa Polias’ corner kick goes to Ellie Brush at the back post who heads it just over the crossbar. Sydney have turned up the heat now and a Jets back pass goes astray for another corner. The corner is cleared and Newcastle’s defence holds strong during an extended period in the box.
At 20 minutes in, Sydney look marginally on top with the game mostly in their half. Pollicina takes a long range strike but it isn’t dangerous and goes straight into the hands of Mathyssen-Whyman.
From the mid field, Polias sends a long ball to Princess Ibini. She flicks it up and heads it onto Siemsen but it’s not controlled and ends up in the hands of Coelho. A few more attacking runs come to little but then Ibini picks it up again in the midfield and dribbles towards the box unchallenged. She passes to Mackenzie Hawkesby who sends it on to Vine at the top right of the box. She calmly lobs a shot from just outside the box that Coelho can’t quite reach and it goes into the left side of the goal and Sydney hit the lead, 1-0. Vine is cool as a cucumber after the goal and waits for her teammates to run up to congratulate her.
Five minutes later and Cortnee Vine brings the ball into the box from the left. A shot is well blocked and rebounds to Green who sends to Siemsen in front of goal. She deflects the ball past Coelho into goal but she’s offside. She’s got a wry smile but accepts it.
Another attack by Sydney ends with a slide tackle by Hannah Brewer. Sydney are making good use of the space and keep switching play from side to side with long passes.
Just before half time, Newcastle transition but Pollicina only gets a very weak shot on goal that is easily gathered by Mathyssen-Whyman who hasn’t been too busy for a while.
Early in the second half, a tussle, or more like a spot of wrestling, between Taren King and Siemsen sees King get a yellow card. There’s been a few clashes where both players have ended up on the deck so far but this is the first yellow of the match. The resulting free kick is taken by Polias and everyone’s lined about two metres from the top of the box.
She slips it low past the wall and Vine runs onto it in the clear with just Coelho between her and a goal. She shoots high to the right and Coelho is able to bat it down with both hands on what looked to initially be a certain goal. Turns out Vine was offside anyway so even if she got it past Coelho, it would have been disallowed.
In another attack, Hawkesby passes through to Wheeler who brings it down the right side and crosses to Siemsen who tries to head the ball but misses. Ibini chases it down and passes to Green who lobs it back to the centre but the Jets manage to clear it.
Ally Green, who’s having a blinder of a game, brings the ball down midfield and gets tackled but does some tricky footwork, a spin and a lunge and then gets a push in the back to eat some dirt but gets a free kick for her trouble. The free kick is in almost exactly the same spot as the one Vine nearly scored from and is set up the same way. This time it ends up out on the far side-line and the throw in results in a corner.
The corner clearance ends up with Simon who passes to Sunny Franco who dribbles down towards the right corner but then switches back to Tessa Tamplin who loses possession. It’s the first time Newcastle have looked dangerous this half.
A long clearance by Sydney ends at the feet of Coelho with Siemsen rushing her. She fumbles with the ball at her feet but clears it. Davis tries to move it on but Ibini has other ideas and relieves her of possession and takes off down the left. Cassidy Davis trails closely behind but gets tangled in her feet and they both hit the deck with a thud. Davis gets the second yellow of the match. King heads the free kick over the crossbar safely for a corner.
The corner is once again the start of a transition play for the Jets and sees Allen running down the left with Sydney in hot pursuit. She brings it into the box and Green has managed to get back and clears it perfectly and quite spectacularly.
Harding comes on for Allen. The Sydney goal kick goes to Green who sends it upfield to Coelho with Siemsen closing quickly. The pressure sees Coelho sky the ball. When it eventually comes down from space, Siemsen, Ibini and Tamplin are there. Siemsen chests it to the right and strikes. Coelho has recovered enough to touch it but not to stop it and the ball sails into goal. Siemsen gets her long awaited first goal of the season and celebrates appropriately. 2-0 Sydney.
Almost straight after, Vine sends a perfectly placed cross to Siemsen’s head but it’s deflected to the left of goal.
A ball is sent across from Harding to Tamplin. Green beats her to it and kicks it out. It looks like it deflects off Tamplin lower leg on the way out but Tamplin thinks Green kicked it out and picks up the ball for a throw in. The linesman indicates the other way and then Tamplin just boots the ball sky high in defiance. That goes down like a lead balloon and earns her an immediate yellow card for a moment of stupidity.
Green gets about five more throw ins as the ball goes in and out along the side-line. She gets a ball back to her and starts dribbling but is tripped by Franco and is on the ground face down again. And guess what? It’s another yellow card, this time for Franco. At this stage Newcastle are making some really dumb mistakes. Almost immediately afterwards, Pollicina yanks on Wheeler’s arm to bring her to the ground in a judo style move. It’s a free kick and I think yet another yellow.
Play gets back to relative normal. A ball is sent down the centre and Ibini is on it like a gazelle. She sidesteps King in the box and it’s just her and Coelho when Brewer comes screaming in, and in a sensational slide tackle and clears it out of the box.
With about 12 minutes to go, Brewer brings the ball down the left and sends a long ball into the box, beating the Sydney defence. Mathyssen-Whyman comes out of goal to clear it and then collides with a defender before running back to goal. In the meantime the ball has landed in front of Andrews but Brush is able to clear it in a very close call.
Then Tamplin gets the ball at the top right of the box and has an unimpeded shot at goal. It’s just high and lands on top of the net instead of in it. Newcastle have settled down a bit and finally trying to come back.
Pollicina sends a beautiful pass through the centre of the Sydney defence for House to run onto in the box. She’s onside and it’s just her and Mathyssen-Whyman. The Sydney goalkeeper comes out and throws herself sideways at the ball and gathers it as House leaps over her. Mathyssen-Whyman is suddenly very busy and engaged and proving her worth.
Newcastle continue to attack but can’t make any serious inroads through the Sydney defence. In a final fling, Harding sends the ball across goal from the right. It goes slightly behind House and hits her hip. She’s able to give it to Pollicina right in front of goal. She sends the ball flying over the crossbar instead of into the net for what should have been a sitter.
The match ends with Sydney on a for match winning streak conceding only one goal over that period, although they have only played Newcastle and Western Sydney Wanderers twice each so far. The Sky Blues are now clear at the top of the table as well which should make the fans very happy.
In the end, it was a well-deserved win. Sydney were able to finish and didn’t lose their cool. The same couldn’t be said for Newcastle with four or five yellow cards in that crazy period in the middle of the match.
Teresa Polias got Player of the Match and while she’s always solid, I was a little surprised by this. I really thought Ally Green should have got this award. She had a couple of incredible goal-saving tackles and was all over the field in both attack and defence. A truly outstanding effort.
Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Green, Tobin, Brush, Polias, Wheeler, Hawkesby, Siemsen, Vine, Ibini. Substitutes: Offer (GK), Hristodoulou, Ray, Toby.
Scorers: Vine 32, Siemsen 61.
NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, Allan, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen, O’Brien, Petratos, Harding, House.
Referee: Kelly Jones.
|Sydney FC||4||4||0||0||9||1||12||+ 8|
|Canberra United||5||3||2||0||11||6||11||+ 5|
|Brisbane Roar||6||2||4||0||11||4||10||+ 7|
|Adelaide United||5||3||0||2||8||7||9||+ 1|
|Newcastle Jets||5||1||1||3||7||8||4||– 1|
|Melbourne City||6||1||1||4||7||15||4||– 8|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||5||1||0||4||3||13||3||– 10|
|Perth Glory||3||0||1||2||2||4||1||– 2|
Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.
Melbourne City 2–3 Brisbane Roar (31/1/21)
By Ben Gilby.
A brilliant strike by Mariel Hecher earned Brisbane Roar their second straight win after starting the season with four consecutive draws. The Brazilian’s effort settled a see-saw encounter at AAMI Park and came just three minutes after the hosts levelled from being 2-0 down.
The first opportunity of the game fell to Melbourne City with Matildas defender Jenna McCormick battling her way into the box before appearing to be tugged to the ground by fellow international Emily Gielnik, but referee Casey Reibelt waved away the Sky Blues’ penalty claims.
As the game entered its second quarter, the Queenslanders became increasingly dominant but a series of great saves from Teagan Micah in the City goal meant that they did not quite get the scoreboard lead that their pressure deserved. A familiar story for the Roar this season.
A golden chance was created when Tameka Yallop played in Gielnik, but Micah did well to save.
They did take the lead on the twenty-third minute when a corner was met by a thumping header by Clare Polkinghorne from the left of the box. The Matildas star didn’t need to jump to make contact and scored despite having City defenders McCormick and Rhali Dobson tight to her.
Six minutes later, Brisbane doubled their lead when Yallop got through and hit a shot which came off the hand of City’s Samantha Johnson and Casey Reibelt had no choice but to point to the spot. Up stepped Gielnik to confidently smash her penalty into the right hand of the net, sending Micah the wrong way.
Micah had better luck against Gielnik shortly after when the City stopper made a great save from the Brisbane star’s curling effort which was heading for the top corner. Gielnik also smashed a shot against the bar before the break.
It was not all Brisbane in the opening stanza as Georgina Worth had to stand tall to deny Chinatsu Kira on several occasions. Dobson also hit an effort against the bar as City looked to hit back.
Within seconds of the second half opening, City got a foothold in the game at last when a poor goal kick by Georgina Worth went straight to the home side’s Kira. The Japanese star slid an instant pass to Alex Chidiac. The midfielder’s effort deflected off Clare Polkinghorne’s shoulder and into the far corner of the net.
This spurred City on to greater efforts. Chinatsu Kira was denied once more by Worth after being played in by Tori Tumeth.
With just over a quarter of an hour left, Melbourne City finally levelled. Olivia Chance fouled Alex Chidiac and a penalty was awarded. Up stepped Samantha Johnson who slotted it into the left hand corner with Worth diving the wrong way.
Kira had another effort saved by Worth in the aftermath. To City’s chagrin, the rebound came out to Tyla-Jay Vlajnic but her shot was disappointingly far too high.
The home side’s efforts were all for naught as within minutes they were behind again. Mariel Hecher was found on the right and she drove in a superb cross shot in off the far post.
This will be a frustrating loss for Melbourne City – they had the momentum and the chances in the second half to earn a statement win against unbeaten opponents.
Brisbane Roar may have played more games than everyone else, but with no losses in six games, it will take something to stop them being a major player in the Finals now.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Micah, Checker, Vlajnic, Eckhoff, Dobson, Davidson, Chidiac, Palmer, Kira. Substitutes: Barbieri (GK), Allen, Tumeth, Cain, Withers.
Scorers: Chidiac 46, Johnson (pen) 73.
BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Heatley, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Chance, Freier, Dalton, Hecher, Gielnik, Yallop. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Torpey, Margraf, McKenna.
Scorers: Polkinghorne 23, Gielnik 31, Hecher 75.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.