Special W-League Match Review vs WSW: CAMPEONES, CAMPEONES, OLE OLE OLE!!!
We’ve done it.
We’ve only gone and bloody done it.
Our girls are, once again, the Premiers of the W-League and wow, didn’t they deserve it.
Just take a look at some of these incredible stats before we delve into the game against the Wanderers:
11 games undefeated. 10 wins in a row.
24 goals scored, 3 goals conceded.
Almost 700 minutes without conceding a goal.
A team that absolutely deserves to be talked about in the same sentence as the Fishlock/Little era of 2015/16, we now find ourselves three wins from another undefeated season and once again winning the ‘Dub Double’.
The game against the Wanderers was as one-sided as it comes: 75% possession, 688 passes with 87% passing accuracy compared to 241 passes and 57% accuracy. 24 shots to 4. 11 shots on target to 1.
A sign of how well we were able to set up, and how much input every player has in the team, two of our CBs (Stott and Checker) found themselves hitting superb shots from the edge of the box that were almost nestling in the top corner where the spiders live.
Ellie Carpenter (and we’ll touch on her specifically later) played her best game of the season and Steph Catley was, well, Steph Catley.
People use the phrase “Steph gonna Steph” to talk about Golden State Warrior’s Steph Curry doing all manner of unbelievable things in basketball, but I think we can easily borrow it to discuss our all-action captain who has proven herself to be the most consistent player in the W-League over the last half a decade.
Aside from a shot across the face by Kyra Cooney-Cross in the 33rd minute and a speculative long shot by Cortnee Vine in the 48th minute, Lydia Williams barely broke a sweat throughout the game and spent most of the ‘contest’ recycling the ball in our middle third.
Defence wins Championships
This season has seen the biggest upheaval in club tactics and formation in our existence, and while moving to three CBs may seem like a defensive change, it’s been the cornerstone of increasing our attacking effectiveness.
Lauren Barnes and Rebekah Stott have been the lynchpins of our defensive efforts for the past few seasons, and by adding Matilda Emma Checker we’ve given our midfielders and wing-backs the capacity to push further forward and be involved more in the attacking play.
Never has this been better exemplified than by the fact that Ellie Carpenter could very well have scored four goals, with Steph Catley involved in the creation of countless opportunities.
Aivi Luik has been the anchoring force in defensive midfield, acting in a screening role ahead of our three CBs, and has won almost every 50/50 challenge put to her this season.
She drops deep into our defensive line when any of our three CBs push forward through the midfield and whilst affording Emily van Egmond the freedom to play higher up the park in a more creative role, where she has clearly thrived this season.
Records are tumbling
With one regular season game to go, our team is in line to potentially break a number of W-League defensive records (rightfully held by our all-conquering side of 2015/16).
One more defensive shutout and we’ll break the record for most consecutive clean sheets (currently tied between our current side and our 2015/16 side at 7).
If we keep that clean sheet, we’ll also set the record for lowest number of goals conceded in a season (currently 4) and you wouldn’t bet against our girls doing exactly that against Brisbane Roar.
Following on from our Premiership win, we are now tied with Sydney FC for equal most Premierships and Championships, having played less than half the number of seasons. If we go on to win the Championship, we will be the undisputed best club in W-League history.
Ellie has her day
What a performance by our marauding right-back.
When we signed Ellie Carpenter in the off-season, we stated that this was one of the strongest signings our club had made for years.
Ellie, at just 19 years old, is already one of the best right-backs in the world. The tenacity, aggression and work-rate she has is unparalleled in our league.
The only part of her game we had been willing her to improve was her touch and composure in the final third. We’d often see her beat her player but slightly overhit a cross or have a rush of blood and put a shot off target.
Last night though, she was simply unplayable.
Her opposite number had a torrid time trying to defend against her cutting in on her left, stepping around and pushing to the by-line.
After taking on two players and playing a one-two with Claire Emslie, she faked a shot to bring herself centrally and placed the ball perfectly in the bottom left corner with her non-preferred foot.
You could see how much that rare goal meant to Carpenter and her teammates.
She nearly followed it up with a belter of a poacher’s finish, stabbing the ball onto the undersurface of the crossbar and having it bounce down just on the goal line, and probably should have scored late in the first half when poor communication between her and Kyah Simon led to a chance going begging despite an empty goal mouth.
Her second goal was, once again, composure and class personified.
Picking up the ball on the right wing and cutting inside, she tried to play a through ball to van Egmond which fortuitously bounced in front of her.
With confidence beyond her years, she opened up her body and placed the ball into the back of the net to score her second of the night.
Rado Vidosic clearly doesn’t like fairytale hattricks, or maybe just has one eye on Ellie’s unfathomly high workload, as he brought her off to an ovation from home and away fans in the 84th minute.
Her presence felt strongly, Ellie is going to play a big part in our push to win the ‘Dub Double‘ this year.
Melbourne City finally qualifies for Asia… we think
The first annual AFC Women’s Club Championship was played in South Korea in November 2019.
The fact that the first Australian club to ever compete in it was the statistically fourth-worst club of all time (Melbourne Victory, after winning the 2018/19 Premiership) is a disgrace.
This wrong has (we think) been righted this year and as Premiers, we would expect to have qualified for the competition.
The only issue is that there is no information about the competition still being played this year on any AFC website.
The current AFC 2020 Competitions calendar doesn’t make reference to the AFC Women’s Club Championship, which may be related to the hosting rights not being given just yet or perhaps linked to the poor crowd turn out to the 2019 version.
To put context into the matter, the 2019 version wasn’t on that year’s calendar and was announced on 27th September 2019, just two months before the competition started.
Here at Talking City, we think it’s only right and just that our first foray into Asia would come on the back of the excellent performances of our world-class women.
If, and hopefully when, our participation in the 2020 AFC Women’s Club Championship is confirmed, we would certainly be strongly encouraging City fans, who have the capacity, to join a Tour of Duty to support our girls in conquering Asia.
One down, one to go
This is now the second premiership we’ve won in five years and we are placed well to win our fourth Championship.
Historically, due to the delayed arrival of our Matildas and NWSL players, our girls have hit their straps in the final five or six rounds, then gone into the finals as the form side.
This year, we’ve been lucky enough to find our form early on and have continuously gone from strength to strength throughout the season.
Heading into finals, there are no teams that we should fear.
We’ve beaten Sydney FC away 2-1, Victory 1-0 and 4-0, WS Wanderers 4-0 and Brisbane Roar 2-0 away, with another match against them to come.
Much has been made of the fact that 9 of our players will be jetting off for international duty the week before the semi-final, however this is essentially normal for our club.
We expect half our starting XI to be away with the Matildas every international break, and for players like Emslie, Mijatović and Stott, this is always a likely outcome given their performances at club level.
Our most likely match up will be against Melbourne Victory in a Melbourne Derby semi-final at AAMI Park, and based off our previous performance we would expect to match up well against them.
Three more games. Three more wins.
It’s time to get back to the double-winning ways that we deserve.
Make sure you get down to AAMI Park on Sunday, March 1st, at 4pm for the Women’s half of the double header against Brisbane.
Our girls deserve your support.