Review: Westfield W League

The final round of the regular Westfield W League season in Australia saw the line-up for the finals series and the wooden spoon destination decided. Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports.

Melbourne City ensured they ended the regular season undefeated by seeing off a game Brisbane Roar outfit 3-1 in front of a bumper crowd of 4,724 at AAMI Park.

In form Kyah Simon had a great chance for City, but her effort came back off of the post and into the grateful arms of her Matildas teammate Mackenzie Arnold.

It took until the 34th minute for the first shot on target to be recorded, but it resulted in the Sky Blues taking the lead. Emma Checker combined with Ellie Carpenter, and the teenage right back put in a trademark inch perfect cross which was controlled by Milica Mijatovic on the edge of the box and curled home a delightful finish.

Despite Roar being out of the race for the finals, and thus having only pride to play for, they pressed the Premiers well and were rewarded with an equaliser on 49 minutes. City’s Lauren Barnes lost the ball, which was swooped on by Brisbane’s Indiah-Page Riley. She found Hollie Palmer who side footed home the first goal that Melbourne City had conceded since 8th December!

Parity only lasted six minutes when a poor pass from the Queenslanders was intercepted by Yukari Kinga. The Japanese star found Ally Watt who controlled and lifted the ball into the net.

City completed their win with just over twenty minutes to go. Matilda’s international Steph Catley’s corner found Kinga on the edge of the box. Her low cross was turned in with ease by Watt for her second.

This win ensures Melbourne City end the regular season with eleven wins from their twelve games (ironically only bottom side Newcastle Jets could hold them to a draw) and concession of just four goals.

Melbourne Victory guaranteed that they would finish in second place after an impressive 3-1 victory against a fading Sydney FC in front of an impressive crowd of 3,310 at Marvel Stadium.

The home side weathered an early Sydney storm with Alanna Kennedy, Veronica Latsko and Teresa Polias all missing opportunities. They were also denied a penalty when Victory and Matildas defender Jenna McCormick was adjudged to have handled outside of the area.

Victory fashioned their first opportunity when Aubrey Bledsoe denied Natasha Dowie by saving her header from Angela Beard’s cross.

Twenty-five minutes in and the Victorians took the lead. Amy Jackson hit a shot goal-wards which was deflected onto the post by Bledsoe, but Jackson followed up to hit it in.

Melbourne led into the break and doubled their advantage just four minutes into the second period thanks to a stunning goal from Darian Jenkins who hit a shot from the edge of the box.

With twelve minutes to go, Victory sealed the deal with a third when Jenkins sprinted away, leaving would-be Sydney tacklers trailing in her wake to smash home.

As the game entered stoppage time, the New South Wales side got on the scoreboard themselves when Natalie Tobin steered her effort in from outside the box, but it was way too little too late.

Sydney go into the finals on a disappointing run of form with only two wins since 13th January which has resulted them having to spend their entire finals campaign on the road. Conversely, Melbourne Victory go in to a home semi-final on the back of four wins from their last five games meaning the all-important momentum is with them and their cross city rivals as the campaign enters its finale.

Western Sydney Wanderers ended their disastrous run of form ….just…and returned from Western Australia with a 3-2 win over Perth Glory to confirm their place in the finals.

However, the Black and Reds made heavy weather of it – blowing a 3-0 lead after 28 minutes – as the Glory came back hard in at the WML Stadium in Bunbury, 105 miles south of Perth, in front of 1,175 spectators.

Wanderers went into the match knowing that they needed to win, and then by as big a margin possible to ensure they qualify for their first ever spot in the finals. It took them just two minutes to take a step in that direction when Kyra Cooney-Cross’ corner was impacted by the wind, with Shannon May’s attempted clearance only going as far as Sam Staab whose shot across the box found the net.

It was another corner that led to Western Sydney’s second on eleven minutes. This time, Kristen Hamilton headed home Cooney-Cross’ flag kick.

Perth rallied and were unlucky when Celia Jimenez’s shot came back off the post, but on the 28th minute Wanderers went 3-0 up, and it was yet another set piece that proved Glory’s undoing. Ella Mastrantonio’s free kick was, again headed in by Kristen Hamilton.

Into the second half, and the Western Australians grabbed a lifeline on the hour mark. Kim Carroll’s corner found Jiminez whose first effort was blocked, but came straight back to her to fire home.

Wanderers missed several chances to make the game safe, with Cortnee Vine, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Sam Staab all going close.

A dramatic finale was set up with eight minutes left when Perth grabbed a second when Jimenez’s cross was headed home by Morgan Andrews.

Try as they might, Perth could not add an equaliser, and Western Sydney Wanderers ensured a berth in the finals with a 3-2 win.

Adelaide United hosted Newcastle Jets at the Marden Sports Complex in a game which decided who would finish bottom of the W League for 2019/20.

The clash, played out in front of 832 spectators saw the South Australians on the front foot from the start, although it took them twenty-four minutes to transfer that pressure into a goal. It came when Jets defender Hannah Brewer took out Chelsie Dawber in the box. Reds captain Amber Brooks’ resulting spot kick found the net.

Back came Newcastle though, and they levelled twelve minutes later in some style. Libby Copus-Brown played in a free kick from the left flank towards the goal where United custodian Sarah Willacy’s weak attempted punch clear fell straight to Teigan Collister who lashed a first time volley straight into the net.

Adelaide troubled their visitors early in the second half and Mallory Weber went close with a curler. Several minutes later, the American had better luck. Charlotte Grant played in a beautiful cross which was nodded down by Dylan Holmes. Weber took control and hit the winner past Jets keeper Claire Coelho.

The 2-1 success for the South Australian side ensures they finish one off the bottom on goal difference from Newcastle Jets.
Canberra United had the bye.

There is now a short break for the Matildas two legged Olympic Final Qualifier tie with Vietnam before the finals begin on 14th March.

Photos: @VictoryWLeague @WSWanderersFC @WLeague
Ben Gilby
bgilby@blueyonder.co.uk