Review: Westfield W League

The Westfield W League semi-finals in Australia saw Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports.

Melbourne City continued their unbeaten season with a comprehensive 5-1 victory over Western Sydney Wanderers to reach their fourth Grand Final.

City were rampant in the first half. Aivi Luik hit an early effort wide and Kyah Simon headed over Ellie Carpenter’s cross.
Wanderers could not cope with the majestic skills of Carpenter, and it was the teenager’s rampage up the right, with not a black and red hooped shirt insight that ended with the ball being comfortable side-footed into the net by Scot Clare Emslie.
It was 2-0 after twenty-one minutes with Emslie the provider this time as her cross was met by the head of Kyah Simon who gave Abby Smith in the Wanderers goal no chance.

Matildas star Ellie Carpenter then danced her way up the right, leaving a host of Wanderers players trailing in her wake before thumping a shot off of the crossbar. What a goal it would have been.

With City absolutely dominant, the last thing the visitors needed was a goalkeeping howler. Sadly, under minimal pressure, Abby Smith pushed Emily van Egmond’s cross straight into Kyah Simon, who played an effort into Rebekah Stott who smashed her shot straight in for 3-0 at the break.

Western Sydney Wanderers mounted a game effort at the start of the second period when Courtney Vine was played in by Amy Harrison who curled the ball past Lydia Williams to give the visitors hope.

City responded in style when striker Kyah Simon controlled fellow Matilda Steph Catley’s cross beautifully before drawing Caitlin Cooper and smashing home the fourth.

The rout was completed in somewhat unfortunate circumstances. Wanderers’ 18-year-old midfielder Courtney Nevin was booked for fouling Stott. The resulting free-kick was played in by Catley and Nevin sliced her attempted clearance straight into the net.

The outcome, a 5-1 win sees the premiers into the Grand Final and, given their status as by far the best side in Australia this season, a third Grand Final victory is surely in the offing.

Sydney FC qualified for their third straight W League Grand Final after gaining an excellent 1-0 win away to regular season league runners-up Melbourne Victory in front of 704 spectators at Epping Stadium.

Victory had the better side in the first half and had a golden opportunity after eleven minutes when Natasha Dowie released Annalie Longo, but Aubrey Bledsoe saved well in the Sydney goal.

The home side were made to pay for that miss three minutes later when Veronica Latsko hit home Ally Green’s cross. It could have been 2-0 on seventeen minutes after Sofia Huerta’s shot from twenty yards was gathered by Victory keeper Casey Dumont.

Melbourne Victory ended the half well. Angela Beard’s cross was too high for Melina Ayres and the latter did manage to connect with another header but it was saved by Bledsoe.

The hosts pushed hard in the early stages of the second half, but once more they just could not make the breakthrough. First, Ayres played a delightful ball through to Amy Jackson whose effort from twenty yards was well saved by Aubrey Bledsoe.

Ayres had two further opportunities – one which went wide on the hour, and eight minutes later, she curled a shot narrowly wide.

Sydney’s efforts were few and far between, but towards the end, Remy Siemsen and Darian Jenkins wasted good chances.

Melbourne Victory would rue this defeat after working hard to earn a home semi-final with a good run to end of the season. It was a game they created more than enough chances to win. Sydney FC will now look to retain their title but will face a seriously stiff examination by unbeaten Melbourne City who have already beaten them in two Grand Finals.

Ben Gilby
bgilby@blueyonder.co.uk