Match Day Monday – The Championship

Heartbreak City.

Unless you live in a hole (in which case well done on getting internet) or you’ve just not been reading my blogs (you should though) you are probably aware of two things right now. 1. Sydney FC is my team. 2. Melbourne City broke the hearts of Sydney FC fans all over by winning the Championship.

I’ve needed at least 24 hours to reconcile these two new facts. It still hurts. But I went into writing Match Day Monday’s knowing full well I might have to write a hard one with Sydney losing. And apparently, at the last game of the competition, the time has come. Unlike most games I intend to write on, this time I didn’t take notes as I watched. The reason for this? I had a cider in one hand so writing notes on my trusty iPhone with only one hand is too difficult.

This is what I remember about the game apart from heartbreak. (Cause there ain’t no way I’m going to be rewatching that game anytime soon to give a proper report on it).

Very early in the game City looked comfortable in their play with possession, but then out of nowhere around the 8 minute mark, Sydney had a chance. The chance. We got the ball, moved it around a bit, then the ball made its way into the box with Lisa De Vanna on the end of it. She hits the ball. I thought it had gone in. Celebrated and everything. Unfortunately for me, my dad was there to bring me back down to earth because the shot was never on target. Gutted. All because De Vanna doesn’t have a right foot (brilliant played but let me just have this frustration with her for a few more days yeah?).

Off the back of this opportunity City were rattled for a spell. Sydney were pressing magnificently and held onto the ball well. Meanwhile City looked to be resorting to long balls to Jodie Taylor, that just didn’t work out in the slightest.

Unfortunately for Sydney, you must take any opportunity presented to you on Championship day. And that’s what City ended up doing. An intended quick break from a corner for Sydney ended up in chaos and a Jess Fishlock special. Sydney fullback, Georgia Yeoman-Dale carried the ball, tried to play it past Fishlock, for Fishlock to win the ball with ease and chip the Sydney goalie with ease to put the ball in the back of the net. Some argue there was controversy with Aubrey Bledsloe, Sydney GK, getting nudged over by Kyah Simon when releasing the ball initially and it should have been a free kick off the ball with the goal disallowed. I wish I could argue this. Of course I can see why we hope it was, but honestly it was just a trip from both players and Bledsloe just wasn’t quick enough to get back onto her line.

So the first half ended, with City ahead and looking good. I was bemoaning the fact it wasn’t half time yet with ten minutes to go. Watching Sydney after that goal was difficult. We were left flat footed, with our midfield outplayed and no support when we could actually release the ball up front. City were completely outplaying us.

Enter the second half torture. Sydney continued to press for something to happen (magic). But it’s hard to find that against such a well organised team who know how to defend a lead. Early in the second half there were two shots on goal, glorious shots and against most other goalkeepers in the world they would have been in. But no. Up against Matilda’s number 1, Lydia Williams, they were pushed away both times. Getting stuff unless you’re a City supporter.

Finally to rub salt into the old wound, City, who had large spells of dominance in the half despite the best efforts of Sydney players, got their chance for the half. A free kick. Who resides over it? None other than Fishlock herself. Yup me and probably every Sydney supporter already had hands on their head by this point. Fishlock hit the freekick so sweetly, like how I use to pretend to in the backyard back in the day, for the ball to beat the keeper but not the upper crossbar. With City having the out and out goal poucher Jodie Taylor, and no defenders coming to rescue the failed attempt of a free kick, Taylor was there to nudge the ball past the line.

2 – 0 City’s way.

I don’t remember much more. Teresa Polias was immense. She kept Fishlock out of the game for such long periods, with the only real influence from City’s Welshman coming off the back of her huge work rate and dragon like powers. Shout out also to the 8-9 player defence City employed. This game will be remembered by Fishlock’s goals, but really it was City’s discipline to defend every time they lost the ball that really won this game for them.

So City are three time Champions. Still feels bitter sweet to say. But kudos to City. Whilst they may have not been the most consistent team over these years, they have been the best when that counts. Not only have they made history by their silverware cabinet, they have pushed W-League teams to be better. The growth of the game not just skillfully but more importantly tactically continues to increase. With our sides having to play a team like City, who on paper could contest with any other great side in the world, the tactical awareness of our game has increased tenfold. It’s great been great for a soccer nerd like me.

So kudos. Three cheers maybe for City. Soak it in cause once again next season City will have the target on their back and much like this season, anything will be possible. (Heck Adelaide United or Western Sydney could yet have a resurgence to greatness)

Hope you’ve enjoyed Match Day Monday for W-League season 10. I sure have.

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