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‘Our greatest win ever?’: Three things we learned – City vs Sydney

Melbourne City has pulled off one of its greatest wins in club history, emerging victorious against the previously undefeated league-leaders Sydney FC in a 2-1 blockbuster at AAMI Park that now puts the team in prime position to claim a third A-League Women’s Premiership.

The City girls had a blistering first half, netting twice through Rhianna Pollicina and Kaitlyn Torpey, before a late Princess Ibini penalty set up a grandstand finish where Rado Vidosic’s side held on amidst a Sky Blue barrage to secure the three points.

Here’s what we learned from the potentially season-defining win:

Source: Andrew Wiseman @wisemansports

Perhaps our greatest win ever

The enormity of today’s achievement can’t be understated.

The City girls first won the physical battle with two brilliant team goals, but then they did something that was perhaps even more admirable: they won the mental battle.

Though we should have put the game to bed with our series of chances early in the second period, the fact that the team was unrelenting even in the face of mid-second-half barrage on Melissa Barbieri’s goal, then a heartbreaking injury to Holly McNamara and finally the unbearable pressure created by Princess Ibini’s 78th-minute penalty… that’s what makes today’s achievement really special.

It’ll take a similar level of mental fortitude to stand strong against the crushing weight of expectation that will mount against the team over our final three fixtures, but after today’s massive win – maybe our greatest ever in the A-League Women – we know that the team has what it takes.

Destiny in our hands

The equation is now set: win our final three games of the season and Melbourne City will be crowned 2021/22 Premiers.

As outlined in the preview for today’s game, this is entirely possible; we’ve already beaten Brisbane (8th) 2-1 and Western Sydney Wanderers (9th) 2-1, whilst Newcastle’s (6th) only two wins have come against last-placed Wellington Phoenix.

As alluded to earlier, what may prove the real challenge is securing nine points out of nine when the task, at surface level, seems so accomplishable, and the media attention and subsequent pressure that this will therefore attract.

The task, however, has just been made even more difficult for another reason.

…And now to do it without one of our brightest.

We’ll have to wait for official news on the injury, but the way that McNamara collapsed to the turf in agony after going down without contact sent chills down the spine of every City fan watching on; we’re fearful for what it means for the 18-year-old’s season.

Source: Andrew Wiseman @wisemansports

It’d be no exaggeration to say that McNamara has been the biggest story to come out of the club this season, with her incredible rise from A-League Women’s debutant to fully-fledged Matilda in a matter of months capturing the attention of media right across the league.

Hannah Wilkinson may have all the goals, but, as we saw from City’s offensive drop-off during her younger strike partner’s three-game absence earlier in the season, McNamara is the one that makes it all happen for her team in the final third.

The prospect of having to secure all three points over at least the next game – if not two, depending on how long it takes for our Football Ferns to return – without both Wilkinson AND (likely) McNamara is pretty difficult to stomach.

We can only hope that our City girls carry their mental fortitude from today’s huge achievement into their upcoming fixtures and that they can get the necessary results even without their teenage talisman up front.

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