Review: Westfield W League

The Westfield W League in Australia returned after a two week break for the first stage of the Matildas Olympic Games qualifying campaign. What a round of fixtures it was with the top four facing each other in cross city derbies! Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports.

Melbourne City took a decisive step towards the Minor Premiership trophy after thrashing rivals Melbourne Victory 4-0 in front of 1,097 at Lakeside Oval to move six points clear at the top.

City’s Emily van Egmond and Kyah Simon played a key role in the demolition job, just three days after the conclusion of the Matildas Olympic Qualifying group games, in which they both played such an influential role.

Victory were on the back foot from the start and the only surprise was that it took the Sky Blues twenty-one minutes to get the opening goal. It was another stunner from van Egmond, who followed up her strike into the top left corner for Australia against China on Thursday with a similar effort, which this time went into the top right.

Another Melbourne City Matildas duo, Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley were tying Victory up in knots as they danced down either flank. It was Carpenter who created City’s second goal on the half hour. She opened the Victory defence to play in Claire Emslie and the Scot rounded Melbourne Victory keeper Casey Dumont and hit it home.

It took five minutes after the break for the game deciding third. Catley’s surging run found Emslie who hit a shot which crashed off of the advancing Dumont, ballooned up and fell back at the Scot’s feet and she had the easiest task to tap home.

The final goal arrived on the hour mark. Yukari Kinga supplied Catley, whose effort came off of Dumont’s legs before falling to Kyah Simon who simply could not missed.

Melbourne City will look to wrap up the minor premiership in their next game against Western Sydney Wanderers, a team, who as we will discover below, have their own season on the line.

The Wanderers’ fairytale campaign is in danger of imploding as the campaign reaches its final stages after falling to a comprehensive 3-0 defeat to city rivals and reigning champions Sydney FC in front of an impressive crowd of 2,309 at Cromer Park.

Photo: @jamcas50

Western Sydney have fallen from top spot to third after defeats in two of their last three games – a run which has first ruled out minor premiership hopes and now even threatens their dreams of a first ever top four finish – thus potentially missing a maiden finals campaign.

It is worth remembering that this was a Sydney side having to cope with the departure of Matildas stars Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo to the FA Women’s Super League sides Arsenal and Bristol City respectively.

The reigning champions were fired up from the start – determined to erase the painful memories of their brutal 5-0 loss to the Black & Reds in Parramatta before Christmas.

Within two minutes, they were ahead. Sofia Huerta’s cross was missed by the Wanderers defence and met at the back post by Veronica Latsko to score.

The visiting Black and Reds rallied briefly, but on fourteen minutes Sydney doubled their advantage. Teresa Polias’ corner was met by Ellie Brush and the former Wanderers player’s header flew in.

Western Sydney star Ellie Harrison let fly with a great effort from distance that bounced off of the bar and behind. However, after this, the game tightened up and the challenges got ever tastier. It was no surprise therefore that, after a number of yellows being shown, a red finally followed for Wanderers’ Kristen Hamilton for a second bookable offence.
The Sky Blues ramped up the pressure in the final twenty minutes as Brush, Latsko and Young Matilda Amy Sayer all missing opportunities. The third goal had to come, but it waited until second half stoppage time when Sofia Huerta hit a great shot into the far corner.

Perth Glory’s fine run of form continues as they picked up a second successive victory, with a hugely impressive win at home to Brisbane Roar at Dorrien Gardens.

Victory for the Queenslanders would have seen them enter the top four, but they reckoned without a superb effort from the Western Australians. The only disappointment was that only 498 spectators were present.

It took just two minutes for Perth to go ahead when Morgan Andrews’ thumping header from a corner arrowed in.

Ten minutes later, Roar were rocked as the Glory went 2-0 up when Celia played in Crystal Thomas who raced through and lofted the ball over Mackenzie Arnold, who was caught betwixt and between; not knowing whether to come out or retreat in the Brisbane goal.

Shortly afterwards, Thomas was in again, but Arnold made amends by snaffling the ball in the one-on-one.

However, seven minutes later, Glory did chalk up their third of the afternoon. Matildas’ Clare Polkinghorne handled in the area and Morgan Andrews dispatched the penalty.

Frustratingly for Perth, their comfortable command of the momentum was undone just after the half hour mark when Morgan Aquino in the Glory goal fumbled Carson Pickett’s ball and compounded matters by allowing it to drop over the line at her second attempt to clear the danger.

Roar continued on the front foot after the break and Tameka Yallop headed over just a minute into the second half. They upped the pressure further and after 58 minutes, Yallop had better luck when her initial shot came back off of Aquino and into her path. She couldn’t miss.

With the game delicately poised now at 3-2, Brisbane pushed forward again and Pickett missed three great opportunities.

But, it was Perth who finished strongly, belying their tally of only five points going into this match. They confirmed their victory in stoppage time when Ayesha Norrie hit home the fourth on the counter attack.

Canberra United ended their four match run of losses – a spell which also saw them fail to score – with a 3-1 win over an Adelaide United side who are now red hot favourites to be handed the wooden spoon at the season’s end.

The Lime Green machine stated their intent early on when Elise Thornses’ volley went over the bar. Three further chances were missed as Leena Khamis, Jessie Rasschaert and Thornses were all denied.

Just after the half hour mark, Canberra’s dominance was finally rewarded with the opening goal. Laura Hughes capitalised from a poor Adelaide clearance to crash home her first W League goal.

The Reds, with just one win all season hit back just before the break. Isabel Hodgson latched onto Chelsie Dowler’s accurate pass to place the equaliser confidently into the net.

The 1,202 gathered in McKellar Park sighed a relief in the second half as the capital city side wrestled back the advantage in quite some style.

Thorsnes and Hughes missed opportunities before Simone Charley found Khamis who turned and fired home to re-establish Canberra’s lead.

Matters were sealed with ten minutes to go when Karly Roestbakken’s searing run played in Thorsnes. Her cross was headed home by Charley.