'IMPERIOU5': Three things we learned - The Melbourne Derby
The City girls have continued the 2021 trend of unbelievable Melbourne Derby scorelines, smashing the reigning Champions 5-1 earlier tonight.
Hannah Wilkinson starred with five – yes, FIVE – goals, whilst Holly McNamara was also incredible with three assists.
Maja Markovski soured the night a little with her late consolation goal – denying City a record winning margin in Melbourne Derbies – but little could be done to wipe the smiles off the City girls’ faces when the final whistle sounded.
Here’s what we learned from what should go down as an unforgettable night in Melbourne City history:
Look, you really can’t start anywhere else but Hannah Wilkinson’s record-equalling five-goal haul.
The Kiwi’s back-to-back blanks to start the season were truly in contrast to her otherwise impressive performances and fans knew it wouldn’t be long until City’s star striker found the back of the net for the first time.
To have since netted seven goals in two games, though, is an achievement beyond our wildest dreams.
Coming into the season, we were hesitant around how Wilkinson would fare given she’d never been particularly prolific aside from one particularly successful stint in Portugal. We’ve since learned not only that she’s a star regardless of her previous record, but also that she could very well be the key to our return to the summit of Women’s football (there’s a long way to go before that kind of talk, though).
We’ve got a gem in Holly McNamara
Here’s something we never could have predicted pre-season: It’s taken all of three-and-a-half games for commentators to start calling for McNamara’s inclusion in the next Matildas squad.
The 18-year-old mightn’t be as prolific in front of goal as her senior strike partner – though McNamara now has one goal and three assists from four games – but her energetic pressing is just as crucial to City’s success.
Besides that, her pace to get in behind the defensive line provides a consistent passing outlet for under-pressure midfielders, which in itself is a radical contrast to our struggles last season.
While talk of a Matildas call-up may be a bit premature just a handful of games into her senior career, there’s certainly no reason to believe that a chance to shine in the green and gold won’t be awaiting her later down the line.
Confirmation of what we were already suspecting: We’re back.
Our opening three performances of the season were promising, if still incomplete, but tonight’s result confirmed that Rado Vidosic will likely have Melbourne City back amongst Australia’s premier women’s footballing sides by the end of the season.
Whilst we are only four games in, such a short campaign means that we’re in a strong position (with nine points) to finish inside the top four teams.
Beyond that though, it’s our performances that have been just as pleasing as our results. It could be argued that we’ve been the better side for the majority of all four games thus far – specifically whenever Rebekah Stott is on the pitch.
Unlike last season, there are reliable routes to goal through the pace of McNamara, the intelligent movement of Wilkinson and the creative capacity of our wing-backs and Pollicina centrally, and we’ve been largely solid at the back, despite only keeping one clean sheet so far.
Make no mistake, there is a LONG way to go in 2021/22 – we’re just glad to see the City girls back to (near) their best.