Melbourne Victory hosted Sydney FC this round, in which yours truly was able to attend to watch the clash. The journey there was largely relaxing on a day far too hot for someone who has adapted so well to Tasmanian summers. Albeit there was a point when I had to override my dad’s directions of going the ‘scenic route’ just because he knew it. I was able to shave at least 15 minutes off our walk to the stadium simply by following my noise and the river.
We arrived to the stadium with plenty of time, even allowing for my Dad to try and find a way into the Australian Open, which was next door. He didn’t find a (free) way in. So we had a drinks break and slowly made our way up numerous stairs to get to our seat. We were pretty high up, but could see EVERYTHING of the field. Added bonus we realised as the evening wore on was we were undercover, so didn’t get any of the rain that moved over the stadium later on.
Then the game started. With the might and chants of the early arriving Sydney Cove behind them, Sydney started with a bang. Their early high press paid dividends with youngster Taylor Ray getting a bobbly, deflected goal. Props for the youngster on getting the shot off, but from where I was sitting, I’m still not certain how that went in.
Sydney continued to press, Melbourne struggled to link up with their final third and the chants heard throughout AAMI park were all Sydney, I was in my element. After threatening a couple more times, Sydney got the next break through with a cracker. If the first goal was down to luck, Chloe Logarzo made sure the next was anything but, sending a belter into the back of the net.
One shining light for Melbourne this half, and all season really, was Natasha Dowie. I’m the first to admit I’m was a skeptic. But man was I proved wrong, a bit like the day I realised mushrooms were delicious. Watching Dowie’s skill and composure both on and off the ball, along with her decision making was something else. I’m afraid I am now among those Aussie fans that will be raving about her skills and the injustice of her limited time in the English national team.
By the end of the second half it was clear Melbourne were struggling to get out of their own half, and when they were the decision making of their midfield continually let them down. Meanwhile Sydney were comfortable with a two goal cushion.
Halftime rings, I’m praying my favourite player (Emily Sonnett) gets some game time and my dad comes up with the goods and gets some hot chips to share.
Enter the second half. Melbourne remember the rivalry of Sydney/Melbourne and the Cove are starting to become increasingly quiet. It was like watching a different game. Instead of being stuck with a heap of possession in their own half, they decided to move that possession up the pitch placing a truck load of pressure on Sydney. This tactic worked, because four minutes into the half Lia Privitelli pulled a goal back for the home side. A significant reason for Melbourne’s improvement in this second half was the work of Ga-Eul Jeon. After a first half to forget, Jeon begun pulling the strings in the midfield, giving Dowie support and allowing players to move on forward.
Sydney who were starting to feel the heat, decided to pull wholesale changes to the team on the park. Off came youngster Taylor Ray and defender Caitlin Cooper and on came the experienced Leena Khamis and US defender Emily Sonnett. My prayers were answered, Sonnett was on the field! Whilst the group next to me were puzzled as to why would you use two subs at 50 minutes, this move from Sydney brought much needed experience to the midfield and someone capable of handling Dowie in defence.
Both sides threatened, Sydney playing on the break like they often do and Melbourne holding possession in Sydney’s half. As the half wore on, my Dad, a Melbourne supporter, gained confidence and begun telling me Melbourne could get something out of this game yet. Lucky for me, and thanks for some stunning saves from Aubrey Bledsoe, Sydney hung onto the one egoal advantage. Shout out also goes to the goalkeeper at the other end, Bethany Mason-Jones, who produced some strong challenges and saves to prevent Sydney going ahead by any further goals.
With the final whistle and the rain pouring, I was stoked! Sydney beat Melbourne, guaranteed a place in the finals and I had bragging rights over my Dad. It was a good day.
Round 13 Results
Melbourne Victory 1 – 2 Sydney FC
Canberra United 1 – 5 Newcastle Jets
Adelaide United 2 – 4 Brisbane Roar
Perth Glory 3 – 4 Western Sydney Wanderers