Ten Matildas played in the FA Women's Super League this past weekend, some picking up important points, others sharing them.
As the race for the FA Women's Super League title heats up, this weekend's play brought the top three teams within four points of each other. The contribution of some Matildas helped secure the points for their clubs.
FA Women's Super League Matchday 15
- Ten Matildas played this past weekend in the FA Women's Super League.
- A draw between Chelsea and Arsenal heated the race for the title.
- The Melbourne Derby proved to be a nail bitter with a record crowd.
More news about Aussies Abroad can be found on The Women's Game.
In total the ten Matildas played in five different matches for six different clubs this weekend with one finding the back of the net in remarkable fashion.
Chelsea FC 0-0 Arsenal FC
The first match of this Matchday 15 was arguably the most anticipated one. Chelsea FC hosted Arsenal FC at Kingsmeadow. The Gunners entered the match leading the Blues by two points, with Chelsea having one game in hand.
Taking points of their opponents was therefore the goal of both sides, with this game ultimately making the difference in the title win. Chelsea would also enter the game looking for vengance, after their 3-2 loss to the Gunners in the season opener.
Sam Kerr started for Chelsea with her Matildas' teammates Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord starting for the opponents. Lydia Williams was an unused sub in the match for Arsenal.
Simply stated, Arsenal played better the first half, Chelsea in the second. Ultimately, this possible title decider ended in the dreaded 0-0 draw.
This isn't to say that either side did not create chances. The Gunner's Miedema had an impressive volley in the first half which was saved by the post. A second half double miss by Chelsea is difficult to rewatch and wonder how it stayed out.
The possible game winner for Chelsea was never called though. In the 94th minute Arsenal's Leah Williamson clearly committed a handball in the box, one that even she seemed to know was destined for a penalty.
However, the referee and lines person both missed the flagrant violation. With no VAR in the FA WSL, Chelsea's chance for a win was denied. The game ended 0-0.
Arsenal and Chelsea remain separated by two points atop the ladder, with Tottenham two points behind the Blues with 27 point. Chelsea have played one game less than either side and could overtake Arsenal with a win in their spare match.
Everton FC 0-2 Aston Villa
Perhaps no team had greater expectations to improve this season than Everton FC. With significant investment and player recruitment, questions of whether the Toffees would be in Champions League contention were even discussed.
Nothing could be further from the truth entering February. Having registered eight losses this year and gone through three different managers, Matildas fans can be relieved that Hayley Raso departed what currently looks like a sinking ship.
Everton's prospects did not improve over Matchday 15. Facing an Aston Villa that included Emily Gielnik, the Liverpudlian side lost 0-2. The Matildas attacker was instrumental in the Claret and Blue's win.
Not only did she start, but it was Gielnik who scored the visitor's first goal off a corner. The ball entered Everton's 18-yard box. After a deflection it found Gielnik who tapped it over her head and into the back of the net.
Her teammate Ramona Petzelberger scored six minutes later to make it 2-0 and confirm the three points for Villa. This keeps them ninth in the ladder.
Birmingham City 0-2 Tottenham
Last placed Birmingham City entered the game looking for their second win of the year. They would not find it against Spurs. Arguably the North London club are the team in the league that have outperformed seasonal expectations.
Third in the league, Tottenham were wanting to build on their 4-0 win the week prior after a disappointing set of results starting 2022. Kyah Simon kept her starting spot after having scored a brace in the previous match. However, she was substituted out in the 46th minute.
Two second half goals by Ashleigh Neville and Football Fern Ria Percival gave the visitors the win, and kept their Champions League place in the ladder.
Three 𝐛𝐢𝐠 points. âœ… pic.twitter.com/3fp9kxosJR— Tottenham Hotspur Women (@SpursWomen) February 13, 2022
Leicester City 3-0 West Ham United
Like Tottenham, West Ham United have had a mixed start to 2022. They beat their Claret and Blue opponents last week and were looking to make it two in a row against Leicester City. It was not to be.
Matildas' Mackenzie Arnold started between the posts for the Hammers with Tameka Yallop beginning on West Ham's bench. In front of their home crowd Leicester were quick to find the back of the net with striker Natasha Flint scoring two minutes into the match.
Ashleigh Plumptre would score seven minutes later doubling the lead for the home side. While close calls by Hammers' Yui Haseawa and Katerina Svitkova nearly gave the visitors their first goal, Leicester would go into the halftime break with their lead intact.
Tameka Yallop would then make a second half appearance, replacing Claudia Walker in the 46th minute.
However she could not help turn the tide. Leicester's Freya Gregory's goal five minutes later was the final nail in the coffin for the Hammers. The match ended 3-0 for Leicester pushing them to tenth in the ladder, one point above Everton. West Ham remained seventh.
Manchester City 1-0 Manchester United
The Manchester Derby was expected to be a lively occasion. In front of a sold out crowd of 5317 at Academy stadium, both sides had clearly expressed their desire to take the points from their cross-town rivals.
Manchester City have struggled this season, arguably their worst start since entering the top flight. A loss would keep them lingering mid-table while a win would bring them within a point of fourth placed Manchester United.
United for their part are gunning for a Champions League position. Beating their Mancunian opponents would have them leapfrog third placed Spurs and put them within one point of second placed Chelsea FC.
Matildas' Alanna Kennedy started for City while Hayley Raso was on the bench. The hosts largely dominated the match, both in possession and shots on goal while United sat back.
Despite the imbalance, the score remained 0-0 into the 80th minute. This is when Scottish international Caroline Weir provided a classy late game winner, chipping United keeper Mary Earps.
Caroline Weir saw the chip didn't have any dip so she decided to dunk it 🍟— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) February 14, 2022
Not once, but twice. Not in any game either, but the Manchester derby.
A year and a day from her first, she did it again in the FA Women's Super League.#OptusSport pic.twitter.com/XWzrocbkQg
Raso would come on two minutes later for a late game appearance, but the score remained 1-0. The win was a massive one for City, brining them within one point of fourth place United and reviving their Champions League hopes.
The FA WSL is now paused until the first week of March for the international break.
The FA WSL can be viewed on Optus Sport in Australia.