Updated: Dec 1, 2019
A coolly-converted stoppage-time penalty from Emily van Egmond has allowed City to come away with an important three points against Canberra United in a game where the win mightn’t have been the deserved result.
After an underwhelming first-half attacking performance in which we wasted multiple opportunities, it was frustrating to concede the first goal after a long-range strike rebounded off the crossbar straight into the path of forward Katie Stengel, who was bearing down on an open net given that Lydia Williams had dived to save the initial shot.
We clawed our way back into the game in the 67th minute when Yukari Kinga played an exquisite, defense-splitting through ball which put our new Serbian signing Milica Mijatović on goal, rounding the keeper and calmly placing her shot in the back of the net.
Kinga was involved again in the 92nd minute when she earned the match-winning penalty which Emily van Egmond put away, though Canberra’s goalkeeper Sham Khamis got a fairly strong hand to it, almost pushing the ball onto the post and out.
With important fixtures on the way for our City girls, here are three things we learned from the win over Canberra:
The 3-5-2 needs work, but the signs are good
Whilst the performance itself wasn’t overly confidence-inspiring, Rado Vidosic’s move to a 3-5-2 formation was one which we indicated might occur earlier this week with the arrival of Aivi Luik and Rebekah Stott.
The formation allows Catley and Carpenter, genuinely the two best fullbacks in the league, to take up more attacking positions higher up the field with cover provided by the third central defensive position occupied by Stott.
Whilst it was initially Luik and Kinga who occupied the holding midfield roles early on, with van Egmond playing higher and serving as the midfield playmaker, our first-half attacking impotence lead to Kinga being pushed higher up the field later in the game, with the former-Japanese international ending up providing the assist for the first goal and earning the late match-winning penalty.
Despite our dual-striker formation, however, it was rare for us to actually threaten the Canberra goal in the first half, leading into our second point…
We missed Emslie, but we’ve GOT to finish our chances
Things were looking good when it was announced that regular striker Kyah Simon would be returning from injury this weekend, but it was disappointing to see versatile forward Claire Emslie missing from the starting lineup after suffering a knock during training late in the week, ruling her out of last night’s clash.
Our quality in the final third just wasn’t there without Emslie, with poor finishing and disappointing service aplenty in the first half.
The finishing in particular is something that needs to be very promptly addressed next round because chances aren’t going to come easily against the likes of Sydney, Victory and Brisbane.
We were lucky to win that game and it’s really saying something about our title hopes
The bottom line is that despite having seven Matildas in our starting XI, Canberra defended comfortably for most of the game.
The fact we barely escaped with the three points is extremely unsettling honestly; both Canberra and Newcastle are slated to end up near the bottom of the table this year and we’ve only just scraped by with a draw and a win from our first two games.
Sydney FC came out in Round 1 and battered title contenders Melbourne Victory 3-0 and followed it up this week with a clinical win away from home against Adelaide.
We play Sydney in two weeks time and right now… our chances aren’t looking great.