The matches started midweek again in Week 11 of the A-League Women. There were surprise results, and we say goodbye to a legend, for now.
Melbourne Victory travelled to face the suddenly in-form Western Sydney. A tight, tactical battle resulted in no goals, but Rikke Madsen came closest for the visitors and The Wanderers back four only earned more admirers for a disciplined display.
Western United bounced back from their first loss of the season with a 2-0 defeat of Brisbane Roar in Tasmania. Hannah Keane opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, before Jess Mcdonald’s skill and industry on the right set up a sealer for Tyla-Jay Vlajnic in the 56th minute.
Melbourne City hosted Western Sydney on Saturday afternoon. Kat Smith rotated her squad for their second game of the week. Malia Steinmetz and Olivia Price made room for Amy Chessari and Melissa Caceras. Nevertheless, they remained competitive, but still succumbed to the quality of Melbourne City. Dario Vidosic’s team finished 1-0 winners after a Hannah Wilkinson goal in the 14th minute.
City’s depth began to show when they could bring on in-form attackers Bryleeh Henry and Leticia Mckenna to help close out the game. They are looking comfortable in the top four.
Melbourne Victory took another step towards a finals position with a crucial win away to Adelaide United. Victory went a goal down in the first half. Fiona Worts’s flicked on header was what Melinda Barbieri’s whipped in free kick deserved. Jeff Hopkin’s side struggled for the first 45.
Victory looked a different team in the second half as Alex Chidiac and Beattie Goad took centre stage. Chidiac scored a delightful equaliser after clever play from Goad. Morrison nodded home the winner late in the game, and Adelaide were lucky they did not concede more.
It was a more encouraging performance from the Reds than they have delivered recently, but they were run in the second half against a visiting side with superior pace.
Sunday morning saw Wellington Phoenix dismablte Canberra Unitec 5-0. Goals to Millie Cleggs and Ava Pritchard added to Betsy Hassett’s brace and an Emma Ilijoski own goal. Canberra could not find a way into a contest that was played entirely on the home side’s terms.
Week 11 Talking points
Are we making the most of Chids?
Alex Chidiac’s talent is no secret. But is she being used to her full potential in the A-League Women?
It has been five years since Sam Kerr was announced as the W-League’s first Marquee player. In the 2018/19 season, her form propelled Perth Glory to the Grand Final and she delivered one of her best individual games to defeat Melbourne Victory in the Semi Final.
Chidiac is one of the most universally popular players since Kerr to grace the domestic competition. Fans demand her in every national team squad, she attracts neutral observers and is well known to casual fans of the women’s game.
The playmaker turned the game for Melbourne Victory on the weekend. She scored once with style, she set up Kayla Morrison’s winner, but could have had more. A delightful juggle and header almost netted a third. Chidiac was on fire and took the game by the proverbial scruff of the neck.
Some fans appreciate Chidiac for her game breaking skill. Others relate to her honesty in interviews and candidness, humour and cinematic prowess on social media.
This is a player that is as comfortable with the ball at her feet is she is amongst a hundred children all wanting to talk football. It is something Racing Louisville have clearly noticed. Chidiac has featured prominently in their online marketing and club outreach.
If the A-League Women is searching for a player who will bring spectators to games, while working to promote the sport, they should look no further. Chidiac would make a brilliant marquee player.
With the impending full home and away season, her ability to play her during the NWSL off season may change. Australia should be aiming to eventually keep players like Chidiac on our shores, and loan them to other leagues in our off season.
In the meantime, there are few better advertisements for our game. The competition’s best player is also a marketer’s dream.
Thankyou Jess McDonald
There are many reasons for Western United’s early season success. The standards have been set by the culture instilled by the core of Calder United players. They have been rescued at times by American goalkeeper Hillary Beall, and have been spearheaded by Hannah Keane.
On top of all of that, Jess McDonald has provided Western with confidence, class and experience that few A-League Women players have. As her loan contract in Australia comes to an end, it’s fair to say she more than lived up to her reputation.
You could not ask for more from a high profile guest player. McDonald scored the winner in Western United’s first game, and she ends her time with two goals and one direct assist, but her impact has been far greater.
McDonald is a World Cup winner with the USA, and she looked like one. The attacker was a menace for most defenders, she held up play, tormented full backs and created space for Keane to score the seven goals she has so far.
McDonald is a creator of great chances for other players and a scorer of half chances for herself. Western United has set themselves many benchmarks this season. But they have also set a standard for what international recruits can deliver.
Wellington, just wow
Coming into this week, Wellington had only scored three times this season, and their form was slightly concerning. Their 5-0 smashing of Canberra United was a reminder of what this talented but inexperienced squad can deliver when firing on all cylinders.
This was not a scrappy underdog style win. This was 90 minutes of dominant, fast paced attacking football. Ava Pritchard was excellent as the centre forward. She led the line well, brought teammates into the attack and scored a fine goal herself to make it 3-0 right after half time.
Millie Clegg was another contender for player of the match with a goal and an assist. Brianna Edwards was immovable in goal against the same strike force that put five past Newcastle last weekend. Her penalty save was the most obvious highlight, but she was strong throughout.
Wellington first season was on the back of s hastily assembled squad after last minute approval for entry into the league. This season they had a late change of coach and injuries to key players like Kate Taylor.
These are not excuses for their slow starts, merely caveats. Canberra United are no slouches and are still top four contenders. However, this match showed what Wellington can produce at near full strength and when everything clicks.
Game to watch in Week 12: Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC
It is hard to go past the Australia Day clash between Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC. It is a grand final replay of the past two seasons. Victory are coming off their best performance in recent weeks, while Sydney FC’s defence looks vulnerable in terms of depth and fitness.
Both of these sides will arrive at AAMI park expecting a win, and the midfield battle between Alex Chidiac and Sarah Hunter will be one of many subplots in this match.
Victory are reaching the end of a hectic schedule that has seen them play three times in 11 days. Sydney FC’s last game will have been more than two weeks ago by kickoff.
There are Matildas on both sides, and Sydney FC are still the last side to defeat Melbourne Victory back in round two.
This will be a test for both sides still looking to solidify a top four spot in a season where nothing is certain.