'New season, new City': Three things we learned - Canberra vs City
The City girls have impressed in their first outing for the 2021/22 season, defying expectations to beat Canberra United 0-1 away from home.
Holly McNamara had a debut to remember, netting the winning goal in the 80th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the area.
Following such a promising performance, here are three of the biggest lessons from the encounter:
New season, new City
Probably the most pleasing aspect of the win is that it was no stroke of luck; City, especially in the second half, comprehensively outplayed their opposition – no mean feat given Canberra’s fourth-placed finish last year and subsequent strengthening of their squad.
City looked far more coherent than we’d seen last year, pressing Canberra with organisation, passing to dynamic figures in the final third (more on this soon) and defending well inside the penalty area.
Whether the result of a long pre-season, players entering their second/third year with the club or just some spot-on recruiting, this City team looks to have already hit the ground running in terms of their performances, so we can only hope that this continues over the coming weeks.
Wilkinson looks the goods
If the game had finished 0-0, City fans likely still would have been pleased with the outcome following the club debut performance of new striker Hannah Wilkinson.
Following a 2020/21 season where City lacked a recognised #9 and subsequently a reliable pass recipient in the final third, Wilkinson’s performance and the qualities she demonstrated will have filled fans with plenty of optimism early in the campaign.
The Kiwi impressed with her technical qualities and excellent hold-up play and bullied opponents with her physical presence. Her pressing – and instructions for others to press – will also be of value over the course of this season.
Far from one-dimensional, Wilkinson already looks like an astute acquisition who we can’t wait to see more of this year.
Stotty’s still a gun
Regardless of the result, this was always going to be Rebekah Stott’s night.
Returning to football after a well-publicised battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma would have been enough of a feel-good story already, but for every City fan’s favourite Kiwi to also become the record appearance-maker for our Women’s team was also a special achievement.
Even beyond those achievements, Stott reminded everyone how much we’d missed her footballing prowess, creating several opportunities for City from her deeper midfield position and holding up opposition attacking moves with the way she screened our backline.
To put her contributions to Melbourne City into words just can’t be done, so all that can be said is we can’t wait for her to be out on the pitch next.