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.
Both WSW and City entered today’s game in the bottom half of the table with only five rounds remaining after a disappointing start to their seasons.
For the Wanderers, the issue has been the introduction of a new coach and a host of new players trying to create productive relationships on the pitch. For City, injuries and delayed arrivals has meant that they haven’t had their full complement of players until recently.
Given its short length, the W-League is not kind to teams who take time to find their feet. This afternoon’s game showed what both of these teams could be if a longer season were afforded to them.
The opening ten minutes were shaky in the Sydney heat as both teams tried to take control of the game’s tempo.
City are known for their possession-based football, particularly playing out from the back and flooding players forward to pile pressure onto opposition teams. However, it was clear that the Wanderers had prepared for such a game; they stayed compact through the middle of the park, forcing City to play around or through their deep defensive block.
This defensive discipline paid dividends in the 14th minute as the Wanderers opened the scoring.
Having pushed several players forward, City was left thin in the midfield. A defensive header from the Wanderers found striker Leena Khamis in the centre circle, who turned away from City’s defensive midfielder Yukari Kinga and slotted a pass out wide to the pacy Georgia Yeoman-Dale.
Yeoman-Dale, after taking a few rangey strides, spots City keeper Lydia Williams off her line and smartly sends a looping chip into the back of the net.
City’s defenders were their own worst enemies in the following twenty minutes, giving a number of balls away in dangerous positions. Western Sydney could have been ahead by two goals in the 17th minute after Elizabeth Addo found Erica Halloway, who’d broken through City’s two centre-backs, but the winger was called offside despite replays showing she was just in line.
However, history has shown that City know how to grind out a win. American forward Jasmyne Spencer had been making some productive runs down the left wing, sending balls into the box, and City would probably have equalised sooner if not for solid defensive performances from WSW centre-backs.