Hannah Wilkinson’s five goals in the derby against Melbourne Victory equalled Kate Gill’s record for most goals scored in a single A-League Women’s game. The Football Fern spoke to The Women's Game after her historic performance.
After struggling in front of goal last season, Melbourne City have found their answer in Hannah Wilkinson and the New Zealand international feels right at home in the A-League Women’s.
Hannah Wilkinson's revival
- Wilkinson scored five goals against Melbourne Victory
- Melbourne City have risen to second in the A-League Women's
- Wilkinson has joined City following a long career in Europe
More A-League Women's news can be found on The Women's Game.
Following a long career in Europe, the lethal striker stated that joining City was an easy decision. Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Women's Game and FTBL, Wilkinson said:
“They’re a powerhouse club.
“They’ve been very successful in the past and Rebekah Stott plays there so it was kind of nice to go somewhere with someone who I’ve played with for a long time.
“I heard really good things about Rado (Vidosic) as a coach so it seemed like a really good option.
“I’m so stoked to be playing now I’m here.”
Off the field she has felt at home too, although she does not understand everything about Melbourne.
“It’s good, I think the weather is a bit nuts but other than that it’s been awesome I love it.”
Her career so far has taken her from the U.S college system to professional stints in Sweden, Portugal and Germany. Now Australians have the opportunity to watch the top class striker in action. She describes her move to City as one of ideal timing.
“Usually, I’d be overseas playing in Sweden or somewhere in Europe where they don’t have a very big break over Christmas, so it was never really something that I found the time to do.
“Even when I could come home over Christmas it would be to spend time with my family.
“Because my contract came up in Germany, it meant it was perfect timing. It’s been a league I’ve always wanted to play in and so far, it’s been awesome.
“You can see why the Matildas are up there in terms of ranking because all the players are being crafted through this league.
“These amazing young up and comers like Holly (Mcnamara) who’s 18 years old and has so much potential because she’s amazing, she’s an incredible player and an absolute joy to play with.
“So you can see that quality starting to come through in the young generation. This league is definitely getting stronger.”
A serious ACL injury in 2015 during her college career and then 2018 were huge challenges to overcome but make her current form all the more enjoyable for the player herself.
“My injuries from then set me back for a really long time,” she reflects.
“The ACL is a hard one to come back from so it feels really good to be consistent and injury free for a while…It feels really awesome to get that consistency back.”
The incredible individual performance in the latest derby came on the heels of some increasingly strong form. She created numerous chances in the first two matches before scoring twice against Adelaide United in round three.
Wilkinson says that finding form was just a matter of regaining match fitness.
“I was in lockdown for about 3 months or so without any training or anything so that was a pain to get back into football.
“After that so thankfully I had a few weeks of pre-season before those matches and the more minutes I got the more I started rolling a bit more.”
In round two of the competition, Melbourne Victory defeated City 2-1. In that match Wilkinson and her teammates outplayed the reigning champions for large parts of the game but were unable to score.
Wilkinson herself missed two chances to extend the lead after they went one-nil up. After having no issues finding the target in the games since. She says it is simply a matter of focussing on the next opportunity.
“It’s just a matter of understanding that goals come from chances and the more chances you get the more likely you are to score.
“If you’re missing your chances, you just have to have a really short memory and forget about it and try for the next one. Always try for the next one.”
There was only one game between the derbies and the quick turnaround gave City an almost immediate chance to rectify the loss.
“I think we look back at that first game we played, and we definitely performed well we just didn’t execute properly. It was good to have a reflect on that and tidy those aspects up.
“We were coming into this game just absolutely wanting that win more than them and I think that’s what happened.”
Wilkinson’s five goals all came in style. Two of them were chips over the keeper and the others took considerable composure in the penalty area.
Her second goal, in which she collected the ball outside the area and curled it over Casey Dumont to double the lead is Wilkinson’s personal favourite of the bunch.
“I think the second one was a highlight for me because I think my composure in front of goal was really good and something I’ve been working on in training and in other matches.
“It was really good to calm down in those moments and do the job.”
Her strike partner Holly Mcnamara was directly responsible for three assists on Boxing day and the pair have developed an instant chemistry in the final third. So far they have eight goals in four games.
Both are clever off the ball and dangerous on it. Wilkinson is quick to praise the prodigious attacker.
“I think its great to see her come through,” she says of City’s number nine.
“She’s just come on so strong, she’s lighting quick, she’s such a workhorse who doesn’t stop running, and she’s a smart player too.
“She’s just really awesome to play with and the reason for most of my success in that game. I think she’s going to go really far.
“I really enjoy playing with her and I think she’s going to be amazing.”
Although some of their combinations look magical from the stands, Wilkinson says that there is no secret to their chemistry.
“It just came with playing together a lot in pre-season and in the games.
“It’s just a matter of playing with another smart player that can read off other players. We really do work well together and it’s great.
“I’m really excited to keep playing with her for the rest of the season and more.”
The front two linked up brilliantly to create Wilkinson’s fourth goal of the game. Mcnamara occupied three defenders and took a fourth out of the contest with a perfectly weighted pass over the top. Wilkinson chipped the keeper for the second time in the match to effectively end the game as a contest.
“I just kept composed and to be honest I was thinking I might be offside, it was probably close," said Wilkinson.
“I don’t think I was so I just ignored that and just focussed on the touch and where they keeper was.
“The keeper came out so it just had to be a chip over her. That was a fun one too.”
The incredible achievement of five goals in a single game was the equal of the league record, her personal best effort and made her the favourite of Fantasy Team obsessives across the league. Although obviously it was not something Wilkinson was aware of while playing the perfect striker’s game.
“I’m glad I could deliver for them,” she says with a laugh about those who had the faith to select her.
One of Wilkinson’s passions outside of football is music. She’s a guitarist and drummer with two singles to her name and says that it also helps with her game.
“Its such a huge part of my life. It helps with the pressure of football, it helps me find a nicer escape and it helps me prepare for games.”
When asked if she would rather play guitar in front of a full stadium or a World Cup final in 2023, there is no contest. The approaching home World Cup is something she cannot wait for.
“I’m super excited. I think I’m most excited to join the Ferns again.
“I missed the last couple of tours with covid restrictions and a little bit of a pre-season ankle issue I had.
I’m so excited to play for the new coach we have (Zitka Klimkova). We just had out first win under the new coach so I’m itching to get out there.”
With Hannah Wilkinson in the form she is in, Football Fern supporters will be eager to see her back out there too.
It was a Hannah Wilkinson masterclass at AAMI Park yesterday as we picked up the three points against Melbourne Victory.— Melbourne City FC (@MelbourneCity) December 26, 2021
📺 Catch up on all of the highlights!#CmonCity | #MelbDerby pic.twitter.com/wPbC9aQAuE
In the meantime, Melbourne City and A-League women’s fans can enjoy her considerable talents as her club continues on their promising form.
City next play Newcastle Jets on January 2, 2022. With Wilkinson's recent game-winning contribution, they currently sit second, one point behind leaders Sydney FC, in the A-League Women's ladder.
The full A-League Women's schedule can be found using this link.