Power-walks, pristine volleys, and point-blank saves: this week, the W-League had it all! Here’s Beyond90’s look back at the weekend that was.
Canberra United 1 Brisbane Roar 2
With Canberra United coming off the back of a win against Newcastle and the Roar desperate for their first points, both teams fielded attacking formations at McKellar Park on Thursday night.
Katie Stengel came back into the Canberra side at the top of a midfield diamond, while defender Taren King had her first start this season. Isobel Dalton joined the Roar defence for her first W-League appearance since 2015 in their only change.
The Roar were able to fashion a 2-1 win through superior use of possession and width of the park especially in midfield – often facilitated by Katrina Gorry’s distribution and ability to switch play – but had to work hard in the second half to hold off an ever-threatening home side from squaring the game up.
In a strong first half performance by the Roar, an unattended Tameka Yallop opened their account in the 17th minute. Capitalising on Hayley Raso drawing in the Canberra defence, Yallop’s first time chip hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing over the goal line.
Raso was again in the action just before half time, nodding a Mackenzie Arnold long bomb free kick beyond keeper Sham Khamis to extend the lead.
Roar NPLW recruit Rylee Baisden from Moreton Bay United – who grew up playing football in California – continued her great start to the season with her work off the ball and several fierce strikes on goal that were only denied by the woodwork and keeper Khamis.
Elise Thorsnes got the home side back into the game in the 66th minute, stealing the ball off Claire Polkinghorne then attacking the goalmouth and finishing with authority past Arnold’s outstretched left hand.
With Arnold denying Leena Khamis’ late goal-bound header, Canberra were unable to prevent the Roar holding on to their lead and running down the clock for the away team’s first points of the season.
Melbourne Victory 1 Western Sydney Wanderers 1
Fresh from their exertions in Asia, Melbourne welcomed Western Sydney to windy Morwell, looking to deny the visitors the chance to go clear at the top of the league.
Both sides fielded unchanged line-ups: Wanderers deploying Irish international Denise O’Sullivan at the point of a diamond in the middle, Melbourne looking to strengthen the combination between imports Annalie Longo and Haley Hanson at the base of their midfield three.
It was one half of that combination that would open the scoring for the home side, as Hanson made a bursting run through the Wanderers midfield and offloaded to skipper Natasha Dowie on her right, before sliding in front of her defender to deftly toe Dowie’s low shot inside the far post for her first W-League goal.
Victory went close to a second just after half-time, with Grace Maher’s floated free kick from all of 30 yards clipping the top of the crossbar and flying away behind the byline, much to the relief of Wanderers ‘keeper Abby Smith.
Wanderers equalised almost spot on the hour mark, and in some style; latching on to a lofted pass from defender Alex Huynh, American striker Lynn Williams beat Angela Beard to the ball, before seeing off Emily Menges in the box and coolly nestling the ball past Casey Dumont for her maiden goal in Australia.
The visitors continued to push for a winner into stoppage time, forcing Melbourne deeper and deeper into defence, but it was Dumont who would have the final say, pulling off a miraculous save to deny Sam Staab’s point-blank volley with the last play of the match.
Perth Glory 1 Newcastle Jets 2
A winless start to the season for these teams meant that even at this early stage, this game was a must win for both if they were to keep their top four hopes alive.
Spanish international Celia Jiménez Delgado made her debut for Glory, whilst Newcastle were unchanged from their last game, as they sought to record their first ever win in Perth in the W-League.
Perth started well, with their two international players Morgan Andrews and Celia having a strong impact early on, with Andrews looking particularly impressive.
It was Newcastle who took the lead in the 22nd minute though, when a first-time cross from Teigan Collister was clinically despatched by Nicki Flannery.
Immediately after the start of the second half their lead was doubled when Tara Andrews produced some nice skill in the box before rifling home.
— NEWCASTLE JETS FC ✈️ (@NewcastleJetsFC) December 7, 2019
Glory hit back in the 56th minute with a terrific strike from Celia following a great through ball from Shannon May.
A penalty in the 79th minute gave Newcastle the chance to kill the game off, but a fantastic save by Eliza Campbell denied Andrews.
The result moves Newcastle up to fifth spot, while Perth still search for their first points.
Sydney 1 Melbourne City 2
Sydney welcomed Melbourne City to Cromer Park on the city’s northern beaches knowing that a win against Rado Vidošić’s side would see them two points clear at the top of the table.
Coming off the back of a handy 3-1 win away to Perth, and with Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy looking to make her return from injury off the bench, the home side could’ve been forgiven for going into the match confident of a positive result.
However with just three minutes played, City midfielder Emily van Egmond stunned the home crowd into silence, walking onto a Milica Mijatović through-ball and side-footing her first-time shot inside the far post to open the scoring.
With the match ebbing and flowing through the two teams’ midfields, an equaliser felt inevitable, and American international Sofia Huerta provided it after 40 minutes, getting the better of Ellie Carpenter in the City penalty area and poking her effort past the onrushing Lydia Williams.
Sydney manager Ante Jurić introduced Kennedy at half time in place of Nat Tobin, but neither starting defender nor substitute could’ve done little to stop Mijatović’s winner, a clinical volleyed effort from just inside the area.
🚀How's the connection?! Milica Mijatovic's volley wins it for @MelbourneCity 💪
— Westfield W-League (@WLeague) December 8, 2019
Shadeene Evans had a gilt-edged chance to equalise late on for the home side, the ball bobbling to her inside City’s six-yard box after a set piece, but the striker snatched at her opportunity and sent the shot – and Sydney’s hopes of earning a point – sailing into next week.
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