Wow. Ok this round has produced the goods. Can you believe we actually have two teams now locked in for finals football? It feels totally insane that’s the case given how tight this season has been. Part of me still expects for there to be a massive coin flipping contest to decide on the top four. That would probably have given the Wanderers half a chance. I’m really hoping the Wanderers can do better next season so I don’t always have to use them as the brunt of my jokes.
I’ll be honest, this week has been super full for me, so my ability to watch each match live has been hindered somewhat. However, don’t worry, we’ve got access to replays these days and twitter for the occasional half match I may have miss.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 – 5 Perth Glory
I’m either a fool, or really, really like my family. Because instead of clearing my schedule on a Thursday night, as one has done all season, it was family dinner time, where I ate a lot and got a bit grumpy with the reality I’m the only one of three children who can drive so was playing taxi. Ok, maybe family dinner was slightly more important than football, given both my twin brother and I are moving to fairer lands, him Melbourne, me Launceston, in the space of the next few weeks. But football is a priority too you know.
Anyway, I eventually made it home, and settled myself for a night off twitter until I watched the match. Boy this game didn’t disappoint. It had it all. An early goal by Moreno set the tempo, with the youngster generally being sublime finding the pockets of space between the lines and acting as supplier for her first start of the match. Credit has to go in the early phases to young Simonsen in goal for the Wanderers. She got pummelled early in this match, where Perth could easily have been up three or four goals in the first twenty minutes. But some massive saves by Simonsen kept them at bay and within reach for the first half.
Perth were wonderful to watch here. Whilst the Wanderers looked to out fox Perth, compensating for their hindering lack of pace in the back by playing a super deep defensive line, Perth were just too good. What the Wanderers lacked was that hunger and fight for the ball in the midfield for such a move to work, which would have ensured limited the space for players to work in between the lines. Perth simply outnumbered and out fought the Wanderers in this part of the field.
Kerr was firing again, even pulling out the long awaited flips for her goal that placed her top of the all time W-League goal scoring ladder. Any side with the combinations of Kerr and Hill are lethal, and that’s exactly what Perth have relied on this season to see them placed where they are. Meanwhile the Wanderers will really need to get back to the drawing board. It isn’t even a matter of whether the players at their disposal should be offered renewed contract, it’s also a matter of the tactics being implemented and how they have left them lagging at times this season. Being a side sitting squarely at the bottom of the table, they’ve usually had the fight in them most matches, however there was maybe only twenty minutes in this match where they put up much of a fight. It’s been a rough season in Sydney’s west.
Brisbane Roar 4 – 1 Canberra United
So for some flaming reason I also happened to be busy Friday night with non-football related things. Ridiculous right? Anyway, with the double header Friday night, plus getting my head around moving to Launceston on Tuesday, I just didn’t have the time to watch both matches. Rather I’ve only watch half of this game, as I kept succumbing to a nap while watching it Sunday afternoon. I’m certain this is no reflection on the match, rather a reflection of me and my tiredness levels.
Here’s what I gleaned from the match, half falling asleep between organising my room in preparation to cram everything into my car Monday.
Raso makes Brisbane faster and better. I know, I know, simple. Add in a player who is international quality, the team and squad will be a whole lot better for it. Raso though is special. She creates space where there is none, is always moving and just generally causing havoc. Brisbane have struggled at times to have that player in the final third to play at, who can score on que, especially when Toby is out of form. Raso rectifies this and feels like the resolution to understanding how Brisbane play as a whole. Obviously, Brisbane really enjoy playing with the ball at their feet and mixing it up with long and short balls to their forwards, all with a quick transition. With Raso up front, this just works and makes Brisbane look far more complete.
I’m going to speak more broadly on Canberra here, as they didn’t super impress me from the half I watched, never really looking threatening to Brisbane.
Canberra are still far from the finished product. Yeah, there is potential in the squad. Further there is a really interesting mix of youth in core positions on the field and some really great internationals in the squad. However, there is room for improvement. Is it the player personnel not quite being where it needs to be? With this is the call for an out and out centre forward, which despite Mulaudzi’s heroics this term, they’re missing. Or is it the tactics and formation implemented, with a back three that morphs to a back four or five. I’m unconvinced as a whole. This was always going to be an interesting season, seeing Garriock at the helm proper, with a squad of her choosing. Whilst it’s not been a total disaster, we’ve uncovered some treasures in the South African duo slaying it and Roestbakken bringing a performances that should put her squarely in contention for a young player of the year prize, it’s not been celebration. There still isn’t a clear philosophy to their play, or at least one that is decipherable on a weekly basis, and they are still very much an unpredictable side and not in the fun “they’re going to win it all” type way.
Anyway, this win for Brisbane puts them through to the finals. Happy days for the Queenslanders. Purely based on their fans being the loudest and most fun in the competition, this is a well earned position.
Adelaide United 1 – 2 Newcastle Jets
I know, full of excuses this round hey. But I legit had this game on, and was watching. But then a phone call to my mum, which usually lasts 15 minutes tops, wound up seeing me through from the 30 minute mark to the 80 minute mark. I had good intentions guys.
The big talking point of this game, Crummer’s injury. With a start as centre forward (finally), Crummer made a really good run in behind the defence, chasing the ball and got swept up by Willacy. Whilst the foul was clearly a foul, there was nothing malicious in it, which made it worse when Crummer was down immediately. When teammates and the opposition immediately waved on any medic that could get on the field, it was apparent the injury was serious, later confirmed as a break to both her Tibia and Fibula. That’s a huge blow for the forward and here’s to a super speedy, healthy recovery.
Ok so the game. Adelaide had to win it. Their top four ambitions relied on it. This was also their down fall. All season long, Adelaide have excelled when they’ve not had to search for the goal, rather have played their best when the opposition can play at them, they remain organised and can find a goal from a deadly counter attack. When the Jets got the early goal, through a penalty, Adelaide were chasing a match. Adelaide are just as lacklustre at chasing a match down as an unmotivated person trying to chase down that piece of plastic they dropped and is now flying about.
From the bits I was paying attention to, whilst on the phone to a slightly tipsy mum talking about life outside of football largely, it was Adelaide didn’t have what it would take to produce much more in the final third. Whilst Newcastle, despite their threadbare squad, have super solid back triangle of Eckerstrom, Brewer and Davis, who put in a spell and a half to keep the scores level.
Injury time goals are always going to be a heartbreaker for one side, and a total present for another. That was the case here. Despite Adelaide’s pressing to find a winner, it was the Jets who capitalised on their opportunity. It was Pountney down the flank, who put the initial shot on frame, forcing Willacy to parry the ball. Patratos was there for the spoils, getting the winner for the away side. Given all the trouble and misfortune the Jets have had this season, to get a winner here is special and gives some shine to their season.
For Adelaide, it was so close yet so far. A top four finish wasn’t meant to be for this season and they’ll have to wait for another bite at the cherry.
Melbourne Victory 2 – 2 Sydney FC
I’m going to preface this with, I had every intention to go to this game a few weeks out. I was anticipating it a way that made me drool more than pizza from that good pizza place. However, it all changes when I get offered a job and have to make my way up to Launceston early Tuesday morning to start work there. So instead of heading to Melbourne this weekend, and catching a cracker match, I did the responsible thing and stayed at home. This didn’t stop me from Thursday and Friday nights tossing up the idea of doing the sneaky and getting up to Melbourne, but I just whispered to myself a promise of making it to the final if it’s on the east coast and quickly came to my senses. I did nearly regret my sensibility when the stream stopped for a good 5 minutes midway through the first half.
I’ve finally figured out the word for this match, it’s narky. This match was narky. There were niggly fouls and ankle biters. Neither side were really able to keep control of play and play a smooth type of game that we’ve come to love from both sides. It felt like a cup final match, maybe not quite the grand final, but definitely a game where it’s tense, no one wants to lose and neither side can quite play the way they should on paper.
Early on the match was heavily swinging in Victory’s favour. They were winning the midfield battle, and whilst stringing together more than a couple passes were an expensive commodity, they were looking good. However one good play by Sydney, to get the link up between Foord and Logarzo flowing, provided the sway of the game to the visitors. A penalty resulting in the link up, with a massive early save by Dumont to deny Foord of the opening goal, the keeper clearly doing her homework from Foord’s penalty from last weekend. Despite the save, Sydney started to get their noses into the match.
It was all a bit yucky still. Even the opening goal, provided by Kennedy, who clearly loves to score against Victory, was a result of a mess and scraps not being cleared properly. Victory had opportunities down the flanks, where a few times they were well in behind the fullbacks, yet called on side. However their final product just wasn’t up to scratch. Meanwhile Sydney had created a couple more clear cut chances, which they capitalised by being up one nil at half time.
With the second half, the game was still end to end. Which, yeah great for a neutral, not so great for a supporter. Victory got one back midway through the second, with Gielnik finally finding a good shot after Harrison was caught ball watching. The best thing about the equaliser was the return Sydney provided, with Logarzo quickly producing a cheeky goal in reply. It was inevitable Dowie would have some say on the match. And did she. All game it was an epic Kennedy v Dowie match up. Whilst Kennedy largely had her number, it was a one on one situation, where Dowie had her back to goal that showed the quality of the English forward. Dowie, using her body perfectly, angled herself to turn Kennedy the moment the ball was played to her feet and hit the shot perfectly, as if it were a training ground drill. The scores level. Two goals a piece.
I’d like to complain about the ref, especially during injury time. However I won’t. Both sides deserved part of the spoils. Which hurts, and made the last 10 minutes unbearable to watch. So now Victory have sealed their place in the top four, Sydney remain very much in the mixer and just need to not get pummelled next weekend to seal their spot.