The Melbourne City machine rolls ever onwards, with an energetic and disciplined performance from Western Sydney Wanderers showing just how competitive the W-League has become, and what a longer season could mean for slow-starting teams.
City’s control and pressure eventually proved too much for the Wanderers as Tameka Butt equalised in the 38th minute. Servet Uzunlar’s clearing header found the Matildas midfielder near the top of the box, and some slack defending from Lo'eau LaBonta meant Butt had room to turn and chip a delightful ball over the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Nicole Simonsen.
Halftime was a welcome break for the match officials as well as the players, as an assistant referee had to be substituted due to the heat.
City arguably benefited the most from the break, quickly taking control of the game and moving the ball around with both patience and composure. While their midfielders were given more time on the ball, WSW continued to hold a tight and disciplined back line, catching a number of players offside in the opening twenty minutes of the second half.
City were almost ahead in the 52nd minute as Spencer again broke through the WSW back line and scored, but was called back for offside.
From that point, Wanderers right back Talitha Kramer did not let Spencer out of her sight in an outstanding second-half performance that took the tricky winger out of the game almost entirely. Similarly, City’s other winger Rhali Dobson was kept largely in check by WSW left back Miramontez.
It was the introduction of substitute Adrianna Jones in the 66th minute that would prove to be the difference.
Having chased the ball for much of the second half, it was clear that the Wanderers were beginning to tire, and a tiny loss of concentration in the 81st minute would see them go behind.
After a fizzed pass from Kinga deep in her own half, Dobson managed to get an incredible touch on the ball to take it perfectly between WSW defenders. Jones, running off Waldus’ shoulder, collected the pass before rounding Simonsen and slotting it into the net for City’s second and game-winning goal.
Western Sydney had two or three more half-chances through Addo, but City were largely untroubled for the rest of the match.
Despite the loss, Wanderers striker Leena Khamis was happy with her side's performance.
“Happy [about the game] in a sense but I don’t think we deserved to lose. We were a bit unfortunate at the end there.”