Each week I wonder how the beloved league we call ours, the W-League, could possibly meet the expectations left by the previous round. Somehow it always manages to do so. You know when things happen that are so wild and ridiculous that it’s hard to put into words what totally happened and how you feel about it? Further you’re not really sure whether you want it to happen again. That was this weekend. It was beyond.
I’d like to dub this weekend as storm chasers. As I write this I’m in a youth hostel in Brisbane, experiencing the QLD humidity (please take me back to my cold Tasmanian weather) and I’m pretty certain my feet haven’t been dry since at least lunch time and it’s getting close to my bedtime right now so it’s an odd feeling. But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. For now we need to talk about the matches.
Thursday Evening|| Sydney FC 5 – 2 Adelaide United
It seemed destined that the weather would be a battle from the moment I left to go to the match. All day it had been blue sky goodness, I go to leave for the train station and it’s hectic yeah. The storm hits the west! Once on the train, all’s good, I’m dry and beating the storm on it’s path north east. I meet up with my ride (thanks Steph, especially for the Maccas, which proved a masterclass decision), and we get to the ground in a conduluded but trusted google maps type of way.
Everyone at the ground holds their breath, the weather gives us a whiff of hope as the storms didn’t hit during the team warm ups. When the players arrive back on the field it’s touch and go, the clouds are coming, but we’ve got a game to play and over 2,000 in the crowd, so kick off happens and we’re underway.
I love that in the second minute Polias does a little “just checking in” challenge in the middle of the park on Latsko. Especially because later in the match, once Latsko is pushed up the field, she owned the place. Other than that Sydney appeared to take off where they left against Brisbane, gaining momentum early in the match. I’m stoked, De Vanna even gives us the first part of her two part show for the night with a thundering shot rocketing off underneath the crossbar. The second part was her thundering off when being substituted. My only comment on this is that no way was I going to ask any questions about that after the match, no matter how much anyone encouraged me.
The clouds come to rain on Sydney’s early momentum though. Well it was more of a lightning strike. On the 20th minute there is sighting of lightning. I’d counted a few strikes before this moment, but nonetheless, player safety, the game halts for a lightning break. The young girl next to me and her mum, who are new fans and this was their first game, had to leave because it was a school night and they could only stay for half a game as it was. Turned out to be a wise move by her mum, because the delay was long like a piece of string. Everyone with their phones out to check where the storm was heading. It was a wait. I made a rookie mistake of not getting more food, but showed more experience by fitting in a toilet break. The match some length of time that I lost count for, begun once again.
I’d said Sydney had momentum before the break yeah? Well Adelaide came out and did what I’d feared and was silly enough to predict at the break. They scored on the counter, through Latsko who simply out muscled Kennedy. Not great for Sydney, but quality for Adelaide to make good a tough start to the match. Sydney continue to do what they do, attack, attack, attack. Finally there’s success in breaking down a well disciplined Adelaide through Huerta’s header. A brilliant finish, even more brilliant to get an equaliser moments before halftime.
The second half happens, we plebs believe nothing else ridiculous could actually happen. What innocence. Again Sydney come out firing, but this time finds success right before the hour mark through Colaprico. Joy, happy days for the ground strong contingent of Sydney fans right. Adelaide had other ideas, soon after Latsko pops up and gets another flaming goal because Latsko and goalscoring appear to be a moth to a flame. The two are always together. Sydney go on to reply in kind, with a mess of a free kick hitting the far post for McCaskill to produce a flying header and pull Sydney ahead once again.
The game’s in the balance, there’s 15 minutes left to go, so what happens? The lights go out. Brilliant. Of course play stops, they’re not game like my younger brother and I when we use to play in the dark in our backyard. Another stoppage for the spectators because the clocks stopped and it won’t add to injury time. Eventually we get light, I’ve never been that happy.
I’m on edge, Sydney are up 3-2 but I can smell a goal like I can smell the storm in the air. Don’t ask me how but Ibini works some genius and produces a double in five minutes. One being a thunderbolt of a strike, which is only fitting in the scope of the night. Sydney in the last 30 minutes of a match look to be deadly right now. They’ve found that top gear and this is when they’re deciding to pull it out.
Sydney produce a 5 goal game once again, a complete spectacle at Cromer Park and I somehow managed to remain mostly dry. Adelaide were well in it, probably not a side who should have conceded that many, but in searching for an equaliser themselves got exposed.
The midnight drive home was well worth it.
Saturday Night|| Perth Glory 2 – 2 Newcastle Jets
I’m going to be honest with you, probably the only time this season I missed a bulk of a W-League game for a men’s game. I know, I know. But you see, I’ve always wanted to go to a men’s Sydney derby, my 9 year old cousin got free tickets and another friend was going too. So in the balance it was a choice I made. But I’m telling you this because firstly, my cousin said some mint things I’d like to highlight and secondly, this is necessary to know for my observations on the Perth/Jets game.
So first, highlights of my cousin at the footy. Of course Sydney is still stormy, so there are storm delays. Meaning I get to watch my cousin pull out some ace dance moves in the rain. It’s the first time Ben has been to a football match right, and there is active support banging on well before kick off. I love it. My cousin asks me why they’re celebrating if the game hasn’t even started yet and when no one has scored. He then dubs them as “the soccer nerds”. I’m ok with the phrase soccer nerds, so I may steal it honestly. I also get a selfie with him, and half of my face is obscured by his hand because “I must be at the centre of attention”. Classic.
Whilst Ben is down dancing in the front row like a Taylor Swift concert during the second half, Steph (said friend I am with) and I realise the W-League game is happening and check out the old Twitter. We see who’s playing in the starting XI’s, go “hmmm” over the Jet’s back three idea and go back to the men’s game. Soon after, another check and I’m told Perth have an early goal. We both look at each other and think “damn, Perth will have this a breeze”. We check soon after and flip, Stengel doing Stengel. One goal is pulled back, then another and the coin’s flipped, the Jets are ahead. The game is heating up, we are trying to watch the men and keep Twitter updated too. We see Crummer get a red card. Oh. Perth then get an equaliser. Crazy. We keep our phones close but it appears the heat is gone and we leave the stadium to head home in time to watch the second half in the car. I was to provide a running commentary whilst Steph drove us back and Ben sung in the back.
Expectations were dashed. The only good thing out of the game was Eckerstrom being absolutely stellar, both with saves and acting as a sweeper. Otherwise it was a ping pong game, where both teams tried to work the counter but the opposite defence is too deep for that to happen. Kerr had a one on one, I was getting excited, something was going to happen, but nope. Eckerstrom was too good and Kerr couldn’t find a way around her. I’d go so far as to say the Jets actually looked good even with the one less player. Whilst Perth struggled against a deeper line and why they didn’t flood their attacks with more players baffles me as much as someone going through a Christmas season without eating shortbread. Madness.
In the car, we held out hope until the very last minute, including not letting my cousin out of the car for an extra 90 seconds to see the game through. But it wasn’t meant to be, we’d missed out on the excitement and now I’ve got to find a way to watch that first 30 minutes to witness the mayhem.
Sunday Afternoon|| Brisbane Roar 4 – 3 Melbourne Victory
I make the trip up to Brisbane. I’m hit by the humidity, wonder if this is how a sauna would feel like and how people actually willingly put up with this weather. I don’t understand but it’s for football, so I’ll manage.
The skies also open up here in the north, luckily we’ve got no storm delays so my weekend’s record remains at two for three, even if the match really should’ve been called at the one point, at the very least the moment the watch hit 90 minutes because the pitch got bad. With so much rain, I’m concerned for the safety of my trusty notepad, so that remains at the youth hostel, meaning we’re going a tad rogue here. Well not completely, because I’ve got my live tweets from The Women’s Game to refer to.
With the wet and soggy pitch, the match played out like the dreams of every 10 year old defender, dirty, muddy with challenges flying. It was like playing FIFA on PS2 and holding down the square button for slide tackles every time you lose the ball. But it was Roar who brought the pressure early and they got their rewards. Finally the side seem set on playing a proper centre forward (hello, we had talked about this, finally!) and it was Toby who capitalised on a move by Alleway that gave me flashbacks to being in Penrith and seeing something very similar by the defender against Chile. Given the conditions, a lesser offence slipping in this one. Toby has found some form though, because there was no doubt the moment she forced the turn over it was going in.
The match had everything, including two absolute peaches for goals. Victory’s first goal, by Nairn was super sweet. Already given a couple opportunities to test out a shot from a free kick, this one is in the right position, the stuff of training grounds. An equaliser was found with a beautifully curved ball into the net, leaving Arnold in goal to be left helpless. A bit of back and forth after the equaliser, the highlight being a Polkinghorne run that was thwarted by a devilish foul. But the first half was left all square, to tee up a second half that would bubble over.
With barely a time to get any bearings back in the second half, Ubogagu takes it to the Victory defence and works the angle to get the ball into the net. Word is this is a Dumont own goal, but the idea of a goalkeeper own goal gives me nightmares, so let’s pretend it was solely Ubogagu. For a spell, it looked Brisbane were comfortable with the lead, remaining solid and Victory couldn’t find their way through with Dowie marked out of the match. Despite not searching too much for a goal, it was Roar who striked again. Off a Picket corner, which we’ve all come to love, Polkinghorne rose to get a head on it. The officials that decide who the goal scorers are just want to rain on our parade and take good goals away from players we really want to score. This goal also was given as an own goal, this time to Dowie. But seriously, why would anyone ever take away a defender goal? Just don’t do it.
Cometh the hour mark, cometh the insane weather. It bucketed. Still the intensity on the field just increased. Victory got a whiff of hope through Dowie tidying up a bumpy shot that had come off the post by Gielnik and the fouls were flying from here. Roar forgot they had the lead and to find composure, while Victory wanted to create as much chaos as possible to ensure they didn’t suffer their first defeat of the season.
You would’ve thought another goal by Roar to make it 4-2 would cool things off. The goal was so delightful it really should’ve made everyone just chill out honestly. Boureille had the ball in the midfield, found an absolutely mint through ball into the box for Yuki, who didn’t do wrong by her midfield counterpart and produced a cool finish worthy of the assist. The celebration here deserves to be backflips, the goal was that good. Instead of backflips, Privitelli replies performing a solo mission down the left flank for Victory, cut the ball back for Gielnik who hammered it home. 4-3. Hectic.
Two goals from the 90th minute wasn’t enough for this match though. There were flying players on the field. Did I say fouls? And some brutal play, as the game was out of hand well before the pitch caught up and added to the affair. Without nearly enough cards all match, nor enough fouls given, there somehow manage to be a second yellow pulled out to Gorry. My conspiracy theory? The ref had no idea Gorry was sitting on a yellow, otherwise wouldn’t have given a weak yellow for whatever the heck it was. I thought it was dissent or back chat to the ref. Apparently it was for time wasting, which I must be blind if so. But the yellow was pulled out and Dowie and Nairn were waving at the ref two fingers, signalling the two yellow cards, waiting for the red to be pulled out.
Finally the game was called at some point well after Gorry left the field and Roar were down to 9 as Pickett had got a gnarly knock to the head. Should the game had been called much earlier due to the weather? The part of me which travelled up from Sydney says heck no, let the chaos reign. Every other part of me is like legit, we need to look after players and can’t have any game, let alone such a loose game, with so many fouls, play on in these conditions.
Brisbane probably deserved it in the end. Victory still put up a stellar effort and came close to fighting back. The midfield battle was mouth watering but it was Toby upfront who proved the difference between the sides, as Dowie was contained all game by Polkinghorne up the other end.
The Weekend ||
So there goes my weekend of packed football action. Chaos and mayhem reigned. I’m also unconvinced either of the east coast games actually finished, I’m pretty certain they are still carrying on somewhere because they were really the never ending games we never knew we needed this season. Crazy.
Fabulous coverage Molly. Very much enjoy your and fellow Womens’ Game stalwarts insights to the intrigue that is this season’s W-League. The pandemonium is exacerbated by my need to actively support two teams!
Thanks Mike, really appreciate it and I’m glad you enjoy our takes. It’s a tough spot supporting two teams, so good luck with it! Here’s hoping they don’t meet up in a crunch match