Sydney look to continue on their winning ways | (Credit: Getty Images) Sydney look to continue on their winning ways | (Credit: Getty Images)

The second semi final pits two-time premiers Sydney FC up against first time finalist Melbourne Victory at Campbelltown Stadium.

Well what can we say about Sydney FC this season that hasn’t already been said.  In a word the Sky Blues have been sensational. They have been the leaders of the pack from their 4 – 2 win over Brisbane Roar to taking out the premiership last week.

Like last season, at the forefront of their success has been their attack.  When Sarah Walsh was ruled out you could be forgiven for thinking they would lose some goals up front.  However, in stepped Kyah Simon and the 19 year old not only ably stepped into Walsh’s shoes but she took out the Golden Boot.

Simon (11), strike partner Leena Khamis (6) and midfielder Kylie Ledbrook (3) have led an attack that netted a W-League season best record 29 goals.  That folks is nearly an average of 3 goals per game!  But while these three have lead in terms of goals, the Sky Blues have plenty of scoring options on the field and on the bench.

The proflic attack has not been the only reason for their success.  Sydney’s defence has also been difficult to crack finishing with the second best defensive record.  Danielle Brogan, Teigan Allen,  Servet Uzunlar and goalkeeper Dimi Poulos have kept the best attacks at bay with only Brisbane and Newcastle able to score more than two goals against them.

“I think everyone is pretty happy and ready to go,” said defender Servet Uzunlar.

“If we play our best I think we will definitely take out the match.”

“I think it’s all up to us really.  Melbourne is a good side but I think if we play our potential and stick to our game, I don’t think Melbourne will be able to match up.”

It will be a tough task for first time finalists Melbourne Victory. Although their destiny was in their hands, errr feet, the Victorians were only assured of a finals spot last week, .

The Victory women had a bad first half of the year culminating in a big 4 – 1 loss to Brisbane and a heartbreaking last gasp loss to Perth at home.  It’s a testament to the hard work and determination of the squad and the coaching staff that they were not only able to get back on track but to make the finals.

“Mid December with those couple of losses [to Perth and Brisbane], it really galvanized the team,” coach Vicki Linton stated.

“Come the New Year game against Newcastle it was week by week and the girls responded really well to that challenge.”

What was the turn around due to?  Well for one thing, Melbourne stopped leaking goals.  The first four games of the season saw them give up 9 goals, while they conceded just two goals in their last 6 games.

Secondly, they started scoring.  Goals in the back of the net have been a big problem for the Victory in the first two seasons, and while they haven’t scored heavily this year, they have scored regularly.   Seasoned striker Jodie Taylor and sometimes striker Louisa Bisby have been influential in their roles as target women.  Taylor has gone one better in providing 4 goals with great back up from the young, up and coming duo of Caitlin Friend (3) and Stephanie Cately (2).

The key to this match will be the midfield battle.  Both teams rely heavily on their midfields to provide defensive cover and their drive to supply ball to the forwards.  For Melbourne that means big games are required from their midfield keys Ella Mastrantonio, Kendall Fletcher and Ursula Hughson.

“We are just focusing on what we have done each week,” said Linton.

“There is no doubt that we are going to go in there and really compete.”

“I think our team has shown that we can really take it to any team which we have done against Brisbane, Canberra and Perth.  Now the next challenge is Sydney.”

That challenge is made a little bit easier with Sydney losing their captain and midfield general, Heather Garriock.  Garriock has succumbed to a lingering ankle complaint and will be out for the season.  Melbourne on the other hand are all fit and ready to go.

The last and only time these two met this season was in Week 2.  Sydney got the better of Melbourne on that occasion with a strong 4 – 1.  However, considering that was the Victory’s first game of the season, the conditions on the night and their recent good form, Vicki Linton’s girls would fancy their chances.

Follow AusWomensGame on twitter during the match for updates.

DON’T FORGET: Catch a One Hour Westfield W-League Semi-Final highlights package on ABC1 in the Primetime of 6pm.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Campbelltown Stadium, Campbelltown

Local kick-off: 3:00pm

Referee: Kirralee Gardiner

Assistant referees: Lee Corey Katie Paterson

Fourth official: Peta McCallum

Sydney FC: 1.Dimi POULOS (gk), 2. Teresa POLIAS, 3. Danielle BROGAN, 6. Servet UZUNLAR, 8. Renee ROLLASON, 9. Caitlin FOORD, 10. Kylie LEDBROOK (c), 11. Lydia VANDENBERGH 15. Teigen ALLEN, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Leena KHAMIS, 4. Alesha CLIFFORD 5. Alanna KENNEDY 13. Catherine CANNULI, 14. Nicola BOLGER, 16. Linda O’Neill 18. Samantha SPACKMAN, 20 Erin HERD (gk)

*three to be omitted*

In: Danielle BROGAN (promoted), Lydia VANDENBERGH (promoted), Samantha SPACKMAN (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Heather GARRIOCK (injured - season)

Melbourne Victory: 1. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 2. Rita MANKOWSKA, 3. Marlies OOSTDAM, 5. Louisa BISBY, 6. Maika RUYTER-HOOLEY, 7. Snez VELJANOVSKA, 8. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 9. Stephanie CATLEY, 10. Jodie TAYLOR, 11. Kendall FLETCHER, 12. Amy JACKSON, 13. Ashley BROWN, 17. Caitlin FRIEND, 18. Ursula HUGHSON, 19. Enza BARILLA, 20. Brianna DAVEY (GK)

*one to be omitted*

In: Rita MANKOWSKA (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Nil