Melbourne City has again flexed its attacking muscles in the A-League Women, recording a 5-1 win at home against Newcastle Jets on Saturday afternoon.
Kaitlyn Torpey got the party started early with her bomb from outside the box in the 6th minute, but the Jets threatened to dampen the mood with a series of missed chances over the ensuing 20 minutes. Ultimately, it was their own net that they would find first, with Georgina Worth recording an own-goal minutes before Bryleeh Henry netted her third of the season in the 29th. The visitors again dominated in the early stages of the second half and struck in the 70th, but City resisted long enough to kill off the contest with its fourth of the day through Caitlyn Karic. Emina Ekic struck from the penalty spot late on to ensure the final 5-1 scoreline.
There was plenty to be pleased about from the one-sided scoreline, but not all of the day's key takeaways were endearing of City. Here's what we learned:
Beating Thrashing what's in front of us
To start with a positive, our City girls are playing some box-office football right now. The team has racked up goalscoring hauls of four, three and five across its opening three fixtures, with those strikes arriving from six different sources (not including our own-goal) - all without star forwards Holly McNamara and Hannah Wilkinson.
Critics will argue that these one-sided scorelines have arrived against opposition teams who would have been tipped to finish bottom-half this season anyway, but it's no simple feat to achieve that level of consistency in a league where anyone can beat anyone on their day.
Thus far, our City girls have done more than we possibly could have asked; they've not just beaten what's in front of them, they've thrashed what's in front of them.
Still room for improvement
With all the above said, there were still several periods in today's clash where City was distinctly second-best. Despite Torpey's early goal, Newcastle was able to create a multitude of chances prior to the second goal that really gave us a foothold in the contest, and City was outclassed entirely for much of the second half before again swinging the balance again late on with Karic's strike.
Particularly in this latter period, Newcastle was exploiting space behind City's defensive line with frightening ease and regularity. A spate of scoring opportunities followed these moments for the Jets, often resulting in strikes of the woodwork (three in total), narrow misses, or fortunate blocks, all of which would culminate in a hurried City clearance and a repeat of the process.
Cheap turnovers in build-up, holes in our defensive shape and a lack of midfield control in transition all contributed to these periods of inferiority and will need to be rectified before our top-of-the-table clash against Western United next weekend.
When you're winning as comprehensively as we have been in recent weeks, there's a tendency for the performances of every player on the pitch to be noteworthy, but American imports Julia Grosso and Emina Ekic are certainly worthy of their own mention.
I personally had expressed doubt at the influence that the duo's signings would have pre-season, with Ekic's quotes, in particular, from her announcement article sounding like she was just here to experience a new country and to add to our already extensive attacking depth. However, the pair have been influential in each of City's wins thus far, starting all three games together.
Grosso plays with the comfort and confidence of a player who is a class above, exhibiting her athleticism and technical qualities with her ability to beat players on the dribble even from full-back.
Further afield, her compatriot Ekic has contributed two goals already this season and, with her tendency to put opposition full-backs on skates with her dribbling and shooting inside the box, possesses a level of direct goal threat that can be a rarity amongst wingers.
With Grosso and Ekic only adding to the success of fellow acquisitions Henry, Cote Rojas, Katie Bowen and Daniela Galic, it appears that City's recruitment has again been on point this season.