Review: Westfield W League

The penultimate round of the regular season of the Westfield W League in Australia was full of goals and saw Melbourne City clinch the Premiers crown with a round to go. Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports.

Melbourne City lifted the Premiers trophy with a round to spare after a 4-0 demolition job away to Western Sydney Wanderers in front of 819 spectators Marconi Stadium.

It was a second Premier title for City – the first came in 2016 – and comes as a reward for the team after they missed out on a place in the top four last season, thus missing the Finals.

With ten wins and a single draw from their eleven games so far, there is no doubt that their high quality squad, containing Matildas stars Lydia Williams, Aivi Luik, Steph Catley, Emily van Egmond, Kyah Simon and Ellie Carpenter deserve the trophy, and they will go into the Finals campaign as red hot favourites to take out the Grand Final crown as well.

It took just twelve minutes for City to take the lead. Scottish international Clare Emslie was felled in the box by Alex Huynh. Emslie picked herself up, dusted herself down and smashed home the resulting spot kick.

The Sky Blues laid siege to the Wanderers goal thereafter as Emma Checker hit the bar, and Rebekah Scott’s effort being saved. However, a second had to come and, it arrived just before the half hour mark. Teenage starlet Ellie Carpenter went on a trademark run down the right and exchanged passes with Aivi Luik before curling a superb shot past Courtney Newbon in the Western Sydney goal.

Another young Australian, Kyra Cooney-Cross, who many are urging to be called up for the Matildas went close after hitting her effort wide after a great run.

Carpenter added her second and Melbourne City’s third just after the hour mark after another superb piece of play that Wanderers couldn’t deal with, and the 19 year-old curled another into the net.

The rout was completed with four minutes left when Ally Watt scored her first W League goal after converting Aivi Luik’s cross.

Melbourne City’s 4-0 win continued their staggering record of not conceding a W League goal since 8th December – a staggering seven matches ago. They have only conceded three all season!

As for Wanderers, a third defeat in four leaves them casting an anxious glance over their shoulders as what looked to be a guaranteed first ever place in the Finals (indeed a potential Premiers crown was more than possible at one stage) is now under serious threat.

Second placed Sydney FC were rocked by Perth Glory at Wollongong as the Western Australians won their third game in a row.

Glory, who were beaten in last season’s Grand Final by the Harbour City side are having a transitional campaign in terms of playing personnel and had only a single point to show for their efforts until 23rd January. Since then, the women in purple have been unstoppable.

As you would expect given the two sides’ league positions, it was the Sky Blues who started the game better, and Remy Siemsen and Veronica Latsko both going close within the opening six minutes.

Perth finally mustered their first shot on target after 34 minutes when Kim Carroll’s volley from the edge of the box fell into Aubrey Bledsoe’s arms.

The opening goal took 41 minutes to arrive, and when it did, it fell the way of the Western Australians and what a strike it was too. Morgan Andrews curled a stunning free-kick over the wall and into the top left hand corner from 25 yards in an exhibition of glorious skill.
Perth doubled their lead on 58 minutes after shocking defending from Sydney allowed Andrews to turn and fire home the second.

The Sky Blues rallied and created a number of excellent chances with visiting keeper Eliza Campbell denying Sofia Huerta and Mackenzie Hawkesby and defender Arianna Romero clearing off her own line.

Sydney finally scored in stoppage time at the end of the game when Huerta’s cross came off of Kim Carroll and into the net, but it was too little too late as Perth claimed a magnificent win.

Brisbane Roar’s final hopes remain alive – just – after a comprehensive 5-0 win over free-falling Canberra United at Lions Stadium.

The capital city side were a regular part of the top four before Christmas, but an appalling run of form which has seen them lose four of their last five matches has meant that the Lime Green Machine are a pale reflection of the side they were.

Brisbane’s goals came in two batches of rapid fire. First, in a five minute spell from the 11th minute mark and the other three all in the final ten minutes.

Ironically, it was Canberra who had the early chances as Hayley Taylor-Young and Leena Khamis going close. But after eleven minutes, the Queenslanders went ahead.

Rylee Baisden’s cross was controlled by Carson Pickett who then fired a beautiful finish into the top corner. Five minutes later it was 2-0 when another Baisden’s cross came off of the arm of defender Laura Hughes’ arm. Baisden fired the spot kick home.

Canberra hit back and needed Matildas’ keeper Mackenzie Arnold to deny Khamis twice and then Karly Roestbakken.

Brisbane regained the momentum in the final quarter and their efforts were rewarded with further goals.

Pickett grabbed her second and Roar’s third when she turned in Holly Palmer’s cross.
Shortly afterwards it was 4-0 with a delightful finish from Shea Connors for her first W League goal. It came from another Baisden ball in which was volleyed towards the right hand post when Connors stuck out a foot to volley it back the other way past Sham Khamis in the United goal.

The rout was completed with Rylee Baisden rewarded for her fine efforts all afternoon after being found by Matildas’ international Katrina Gorry. Baisden went one on one with Khamis and slotted it home for 5-0.

Due to having the bye next weekend and not being able to make the Finals, this was Canberra’s final game of the campaign and it will be a case of what might have been for the Lime Green Machine.

As for the Roar, they need to defeat newly crowned Premiers Melbourne City in their final game and hope either Western Sydney Wanderers continue their end of season collapse against in form Perth Glory, or Melbourne Victory are beaten at home to Sydney.

Melbourne Victory now have one foot in the finals after a sensational 7-0 away win at struggling Newcastle Jets at the Number Two Sportsground in front of 1,321.

The Victorians, who racked up their largest ever winning margin in the process, made a quick fire start and were 2-0 up after just eight minutes thanks to New Zealand international Annalie Longo.

Her first came after three minutes when the White Ferns star was found by Matildas’ international Jenna McCormick to slot home her first W League goal.

Five minutes later, she grabbed her second after winning possession after a deflection off of Jets’ Libby Copus-Brown and netted.

It was 3-0 after the half hour mark with a classy finish from Natasha Dowie who ran onto Angela Beard’s ball and lofted it over the onrushing Jets keeper Claire Coelho.

Catastrophic defending from Newcastle gifted Melbourne Victory the fourth just before the break when a scramble in the area which saw the ball rebound off the ball twice, with both Coelho and her defence having ample time to clear, but simply stood and watched as Darian Jenkins had the easiest task to roll the ball in.

Just before the hour, Jenkins was at it again after heading McCormick’s cross into the net.
When the Jets thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, it did on 69 minutes when Nikki Flannery’s cross was headed into her own net by Cassidy Davis.

Victory never took their foot off the pedal and they completed their tally when Melina Ayres headed in Grace Maher’s corner.
Adelaide United had the bye.

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Ben Gilby
bgilby@blueyonder.co.uk