Adelaide finished their season on the weekend how they would have liked to have started it, a confident 5-2 win against top side Sydney. The Lady Reds were able to beat the heat, and the odds, in front of a 2,000-strong crowd on Sunday afternoon at Adelaide’s Coopers Stadium.
With no chance at a finals berth, Adelaide were playing with nothing to lose against one of the league-favourites, Sydney, who were fighting to finish on the top of the W-League table. While the Adelaide ground was sizzling, each side took some time in warming up to their usual groove and potential.
The opening half saw constant turnover of play. Both teams secured chances early, Foord, Simon, Yeoman-Dale and Ordega in blue, Jones, Chidiac and Huerta in red, looking to put their teams in front without luck.
Before the break, Sydney were losing possession in the midfield whilst the Adelaide defensive line was pushed back, allowing Sydney’s offensive players opportunities to stay on-side up the pitch. Drink breaks were given every fifteen minutes to ensure the safety of the players who were no doubt ready to break at halftime, the score still locked at 0-0.
Amazingly, and despite the weather being in the high 30’s, there were 7 goals in the second half of the game, 5 in the first fifteen minutes. Racheal Quigley was credited with the first goal from a beautiful curling Colaprico free kick. On closer analysis this ball appeared to have ricocheted off Servet Uzunlar.
Moments later, Jones missed a golden opportunity after a setup from Alex Chidiac, but she sent the ball wide and high. Keen to equal the scoreline, Caitlin Foord then cut through the Adelaide defense but a heavy touch allowed Sarah Willacy to easily collect the ball.
Adelaide lifted the scoreline to 2-0 after a miss kick by Teresa Polias was intercepted by Jones, who rounded the keeper and calmly slotted her eighth goal of the season.
Sydney FC sub Remy Siemsen then proved her worth with a brace that bought Sydney back into the match, and devastated the Adelaide crowd. The first goal came after Matilda’s defender Alanna Kennedy pushed into the midfield, feeding in Simon, whose one touch ball allowed Siemsen to drive the ball under Willacy. Foord set up Siemsen for a shot cross in the 57th minute but it was tipped out for a corner by a full stretch Willacy.
The corner was chaotic, with a mad scramble that led to a shot by Ordega, the deflected ball hitting the left post and landing at the feed of Siemsen on the right post, who equalised for Sydney. Adelaide worked themselves back into the driver’s seat, with impressive combinations in attack.
Jones, Quigley and Huerta kept possession for the Reds up front, with Huerta sending through a dangerous flat ball across the box allowing youngster Emily Hodgson to seal her first W-League goal. Remy Siemsen assisted Francisca Ordega in the 64th minute, but the ball was recalled after an offside ruling.
Sydney FC struggled to make connections in the midfield, and were slow to mark in defense at times, allowing Adelaide to dictate much of the play. Huerta looked menacing all game, beating players and ripping shots from all over the forward half.
Kyah Simon looked set to have a second assist in the 65th minute when she slotted a ball through the defense for Ordega, but the oncoming Willacy forced Ordega to take a heavy touch to the right, allowing Katie Naughton to block the shot and clear the pressure for Adelaide
Sydney had another missed opportunity moments later when Leena Khamis used Simon for a wall pass in the box, but her shot was eventually blocked by the Adelaide defense.
Adelaide then took the ball on the rebound, with Hodgson feeding in Jones. Jones rounded the keeper but had both legs taken out from under her by Sham Khamis, who was yellow carded for the incident. Jones received a penalty which she executed perfectly to send Adelaide to a 4-2 lead.
Leena Khamis made way for Amy Harrison returning from injury, but despite the fresh legs Sydney could not make the most of the opportunities they created. A goal kick from Willacy and a miss timed header from the Sydney defense sent Jones in on goal again, but she collided with Khamis in an encounter that left both players seeking medical attention. Khamis had to leave the field due to the concussion rule, allowing Sarah Easthope to gain some important minutes.
Alanna Kennedy pushed into the midfield for Sydney FC as they tried to bolster the attack. Foord danced around Sydney’s box in the 84th minute but her shot was off target. Simon’s free kick found Ordega minutes later but the header was again off target. Jones, who finished equal third in the golden boot tally with Natasha Dowie (9 goals each), made way for Ladas in the 82nd minute. Ralston stood up in defense for Sydney but the midfield allowed too much Adelaide traffic to break through throughout the match.
Chidiac was held in midfield by Polias, the free kick ending in a fifth and final goal for Adelaide. Naughton’s well timed kick found Huerta who was unmarked at the back post. Huerta settled the ball perfectly with her chest, and powered home the ball to complete their victory.
In a press conference leading up to the match Naughton stated:
“It’s been really exciting to see the women’s game grow here in Australia, and start to really compete with what we are used to back home. [For the last game] we really want to prove to everyone that we are a good team and we are capable of competing with the best of the best here in Australia.” -Katie Naughton
Kennedy and Ordega both had glimpses in the 6 minutes of extra time, but neither could convert. Adelaide’s victory meant that Canberra United finished top of the table for the 2016-17 W-League season. Adelaide showed grit and determination to turn their season around, finishing 6th overall, and having two players inside the top 5 goalscorers for the league.
Sydney have had a rough end to the season but their more consistent results meant that they still finished 3rd and qualified for finals. The loss against Adelaide did cost them a home final though, with the team having to travel to Perth next Saturday. Adelaide will continue their finals hunt next season, but all can agree the team progressed significantly this year.
Adelaide United 5 (Racheal Quigley 47’, Adriana Jones 48’, 68’, Emily Hodgson 61’, Sofia Huerta 87’)
Sydney FC 2 (Remy Siemsen 55’, 58’)
Sunday 29 January 2017
Venue: Coopers Stadium
Referee: Rachel Mitchenson
Adelaide United: Sarah Willacy (gk), Emily Hodgson, Monica, Racheal Quigley (Ally Ladas 82’), Sofia Huerta, Adriana Jones (Cheyenne Hammond 88’), Grace Abbey (Kelsey Zafiridis 87’), Georgia Campagnale, Danielle Colaprico, Katie Naughton (c), Alexandra Chidiac
Substitutes – Claudia Jenkins (gk)
Cautions – none
Sydney FC: Sham Khamis (gk) (Sarah Easthope 73’), Teresa Polias (c), Liz Ralston, Servet Uzunlar, Nicola Bolger (Remy Siemsen 46’), Caitlin Foord, Francisca Ordega, Georgia Yeoman-Dale, Alanna Kennedy, Kyah Simon, Leena Khamis (Amy Harrison 67’)
Substitutes – Olivia Price
Cautions – Sham Khamis 68’