Match Day Wednesday – Round 9

It’s been a hectic week. With my time on this east coast tour I’m on coming to an end, I’ve attempted to cram in as many games as humanly possible. I feel completely wiped, but in the best way possible. Seriously, I doubt there is a better way to see out an old year and bring in a new year than being at footy grounds.

So here are this rounds stories. And we’ll be back tomorrow for Prediction Thursday.

 

Canberra United 1 – 1 Brisbane Roar

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Somewhat analogous with this match, Steph and I approached this road trip to Canberra with good intentions. When organising what time to make the trek south, we decided to arrive to Canberra early in an effort to find pre-match food that wasn’t Maccas. We succeeded in arriving to Canberra early. But you see, we weren’t hungry when we arrived to Canberra, as it was too early. With this conundrum, we went to Maccas to bask in their aircon, because the day was HOT, and to grab a drink, the largest frozen coke you’ve got thanks. When we finally felt a bit hungry, it was 30 minutes before the game. Guess what we got our food? Quarter pounder anyone?

Much like arriving to Canberra early, the intention of the match between Canberra and Brisbane seemed to lift off the right foot early, thanks to a third minute goal by Mulaudzi. However from here, much of the match left me the same feeling of winding up at Maccas still. A bit yucky really. Honestly the heat was a massive factor for the game. They really needed to find themselves some Maccas aircon.

Mulaudzi did well for the first 20 minutes or so of the match, causing havoc from the quick Canberra counters, however soon enough Polkinghorne and McCormick smartened up to the problem and looked solid through the centre for the rest of the match. Unlike the last few rounds, Brisbane were unable to work the counter attack with the same pace and urgency, likely due to Toby not looking completely fit and unable to really take off like usual. Whilst the ball spent a lot of time in the midfield (with what midfield for Canberra, who knows), there was little options going forward for either side. Still Toby was able to level the scores before half time for the visitors, thanks to a very cheeky Pickett cross.

The second half has three talking points to it. One, Khamis. This is the third time this season Khamis has been rash in coming off her line, meeting a forward and crashing into them out of the box. This time it was to Yuki. However questions need to be asked, like why Canberra keep getting caught so far up that Khamis can’t just deter the forward and get help from a teammate. Either way, something needs to happen or Khamis will be sitting one out very soon. The third, Flannery killed it during the dying stages of this match to try and get all three points. You could be fooled into thinking Flannery and Roestbakken had played tag between the halves, with Roestbakken slaying in the first, Flannery in the second. Both were excellent, with Flannery the only reason Canberra should maybe have found a winner.

The third? SYKES! She was on the field. It was magic. I grew up in country NSW, I remember watching the W-League in it’s first season and seeing the Sykes sisters play. They were from the country like me, only a couple years older, twins too (even if my twin is a boy and likes soccer as much as I like wearing dresses) and were killing it for Canberra, a place I lived only a mere 3-4 hours away. When I heard Ash Sykes had hung up her boots it was hard, I thought I’d never see her play. I mean just seeing her on the bench was wonderful in itself. But to see her play, and for the crowd’s reaction when she was subbed in. Priceless. Beautiful.

 

Melbourne Victory 2 – 1 Perth Glory

The only match of the round I didn’t make it to. Honestly I had tried super hard to conjure up a way to get down to Melbourne, however it just wasn’t meant to be. So long my hopes of watching Perth this season. Anyhow to the game.

How to win a game by your midfield? Victory has produced a masterclass how to right here. The trio of Weatherholt, Nairn and Mastrantonio were on the top of their game and dominated play. Whilst there were some other delightful match ups across the park, between Dowie and Naughton plus the first half match up of Mastrantonio and Galabadaarachchi, it was in the midfield where Victory controlled the tempo, meaning the game largely swung in their favour. There was a whiff of a potential clean sheet on the cards, both teams defences proving their worth. One that sticks out is Johnson’s last ditch challenge on Hill just after half time, showing impeccable timing. However the W-League has forgotten what a clean sheet looks like, as both sides were to get on the scoreboard.

With both sides producing attacking football, Kerr found herself with a beautiful opportunity to open the scoring in the first half. However Dumont proved to be a dreams dasher here, as she stood strong, forcing Kerr to put too much on the ball in getting around the keeper. Again Dumont proved her worth as more than a pavlova at Christmas when she stopped Hill in an erringly similar way. For Perth’s chances on the counter, it was Victory who drew first blood. Ten minutes before the break, Dowie demonstrated why she puts fear into the hearts of centre backs. A clever run creating the chance, then quality skill to finish, all the while using her body to hold off defenders, all produced the opening goal.

The second half, Perth came out with a fight. However, they just couldn’t manage to capitalise on their spell of play. By midway through the half, Victory had wrestled control of the game again, producing some beautiful play between Gielnik and Dowie, the duo looking in better form than their previous few games. Unlike Perth’s spell, Victory were able to capitalise on their dominance, with a goal on the 83rd minute. No doubt on replay that the ball was out with Gielnik on the byline, however the assistant ref didn’t wave a flag, and with play continuing, Nairn was able to capitalise by firing the ball into the far corner of the goals. Victory’s lead doubled.

A late rally was nearly on the card. Hill finally found the back of the net for the visitors, with the long ball tactic and Kerr layoffs paying dividends once again. The last few minutes was end to end, hands over your eyes with suspense, kind of football. However, the final whistle blew, Victory still had a lead and found themselves the deserved victors.

 

Newcastle Jets 2 – 3 Adelaide United

Apparently reading posts fully, including times, is an essential skill to have. I didn’t demonstrate it when looking at a message saying the game had been rescheduled to the following day than scheduled. Instead, I just saw “31st December”, figured I was free and that I’d sort the rest out, so I was in if my road trip companions were. On further enquiry, the match was 9.30am. The game was in Newcastle. Three hours from where I’m staying. I’d signed up myself for a 5am morning without even realising it. All in the name of football hey.

Without thinking about how early the rise was, and that it was so early the idea of chatting as I would usually do in the car wasn’t on the cards, we got to Newcastle, ready for the match. It was still hot, despite the early kick off. For the first 20 minutes of the match, I had to seriously wonder why I’d bothered. Whilst both sides were pressing high, there wasn’t a heap to write home about. Finally there was some action a couple minutes after this mark, with Collister going solo, flying down the right flank, shrugging off Willacy, who was well off her line, and hitting the ball into the back of the net from the tight angle.

The action was all in the second half. While the Jets perhaps edged the scale of momentum in the first half, Adelaide put an elephant on the scale after the break, as they brought themselves back into the game. Soon after the break, Adelaide found success, with Fridriksdottir producing some individual brilliance, dropping her shoulder to fool her defender and fired it into the net for the equaliser. Adelaide never looked like sitting on the score as is, they continued to push forward. Meanwhile Brewer and Davis put in massive shifts, blocking everything that came their way in an effort a brick wall would be proud of. In what was probably the oddest goal I’ve watched in a long time, the Jets found a swig of luck when a cross that looked to be routinely defended away from goal, was actually guided by Johns into the net by accident. Once again the Jets were ahead.

Time wasn’t on Adelaide side after the own goal. This didn’t stop them. They threw everything and the kitchen sink forward, as they shifted even more players forward. And it was successful. Had you turned the match over at 90 minutes, you would’ve missed an absolute ride. With everyone feeling on the ground that Adelaide definitely had something left in the tank, on the 90th minute Hodgson got on the end of a Latsko layoff to bring the scores back level. Never mind there was little time left on the clock, Hodgson seemed intent on repaying Latsko’s service, and did so. Shortly after her own goal, Adelaide once again worked the counter, this time the roles reversed as Hodgson was provider and Latsko scorer.

Absolute scenes. Two goals from the 90th minute. This could be the turning point of Adelaide’s season to propel them into the top 4, giving them the momentum and belief to win, no matter how late into the game. I seriously hope so. This Adelaide side is quality and fun. Especially with Jonsdottir doing tantalising things in the midfield all day long

 

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 – 2 Melbourne City

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You’d think me being in western Sydney and this being a Wanderers home game I wouldn’t need to travel far. You’d be thinking wrong. Sydney’s west is a large and wild place, requiring waiting for trains and being told “the board says 1hr 45mins for the next train, but there needs to be one sooner” by the station people, then hopping on a train that you’ve been told by the station is the goods, but without the usual list of stops on the digital screen above the train doors. I did make it to the match though with time to spare, plus a painless trip back. So I should be grateful hey.

Ohhh the Wanderers were close. At kick off, City were City. They created chances and passed a lot. However, they suddenly looked shook off the counter, and it’s not even like the Wanderers countered well. Against the run of play, on the 14th minute, Khamis find the ball in the space between the midfield and centre backs, was able to turn, put Yeoman-Dale through, who finally found her shooting boots and whacked it into the net. Suddenly the Wanderers had a lead to defend, a completely foreign concept in itself.

Credit to the Wanderers defence, they played out of their skin, despite the final result. There were last ditch tackles, blocks and grits that all left me going “ohh” in the same way a Grandma says “ohh” to slightly dirty jokes. The most entertaining battle was that between Kramer at right back and Spencer down the flank. Kramer just went into each challenge like a pirate in search for gold, with absolutely no fear or consideration for the consequences, whilst maintaining a swagger and confidence of someone on a winning wicket. Considering the nightmare Spencer gave to Sydney in round 2, it was immensely satisfying seeing Spencer so well contained. City in a deep dive search for answers against a side yet to win a game, it took some magic from Butt to find a goal. With the ball just outside the box, Butt jivvied and swerved to create the space and chipped the goalkeeper with ease. City’s dominance finding its reward.

The second half played to the same pattern of the first. City throwing a lot forward, the Wanderers working the counters and long balls. For a side with so much of the ball, City didn’t look to have too many ideas with it, unable to break down the five players the Wanderers often had to defend. Meanwhile, the Wanderers on the counter looked lost, unable to play the ball quickly. Their decision making often leaving me thinking they were playing like an adult does with a child, deliberately “hesitating” for the child to catch up, so they don’t break the kid’s heart by scoring against them. An odd tactic, and one that needs to change if the Wanderers are to win a game at all this season.

Unfortunately the inevitable happened. Instead of parking the bus and having 11 players behind the ball, like most sane teams would’ve done in the Wanderers shoes, there was another goal in this one and unfortunately it was to the away side. After deciding to kill the Wanderers with a top pacey top three where the roadrunner wouldn’t have looked out of place, it paid off for City. Jones found a way in behind the defence and had the finish to go with it.

Shattered. The Wanderers were close to producing something special. Instead City wind up with their routine win. The away side not looking quite up to the standard of last week, but nonetheless, another win under their belt in this insanely tight contest.

 

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