The race for the top four continues to heat up, Western United completed the double over their cross town rivals, and form means nothing in Week 14 of the A-League Women’s
Western United kicked off the weekend’s matches with a 2-1 defeat of Melbourne City. It was the second time that the leagues newest side has defeated Dario Vidosic’s team, and they responded perfectly after losses to Newcastle and Perth Glory.
City had the majority of possession and took the lead through a low, curling shot from Leticia Mckenna. Hannah Keane equalised after intercepting a pass from goalkeeper Sally James, and a Sydney Cummings penalty meant all three points went to the west.
Despite expectations of a delayed game due to the heat, Brisbane Roar and Melbourne Victory kicked off at 3pm local time. Alex Chidiac converted a spot kick in her farewell game, but Shea Connors immediately equalised with a stunning solo goal for Brisbane.
Both goalkeepers could have been awarded player of the match in an even contest under the Queensland sun.
Later on the Saturday afternoon, Sydney FC travelled to play Canberra United. Although the home side looked more dangerous for much of the game, it took until the 87th minute to find a winner. Ellie Brush scored with the header from Grace Maher’s corner kick.
Western Sydney defeated a Wellington Phoenix side that did enough to earn a point. Unfortunately for the visitors, Wanderers goalkeeper Jordan Bloomer was in brilliant form to deny them a late equalizer. Sophie Harding’s 40th minute header was the only score of the match.
Perth Glory and The Newcastle Jets kicked off at 7pm AEST for the final game of the round. Goals to Sofia Sakalis, Izzy Foletta, and Cyera Hintzen continued Glory’s rise in recent form. A dominant 4-0 win makes them a serious chance for finals.
Talking points Week 14
Form is temporary, class is everywhere
After Canberra United lost 5-0 in consecutive matches, external alarm bells were starting to ring. Was there something wrong with the squad, or with preparations for games that had caused a talented team to crash so visibly and dramatically?
When Western United lost two matches in a row for the first time in their history, the shine appeared to be off the leagues newest club, perhaps they were starting to tire.
This week, both sides played top four teams, neither went in as firm favorites and both came out with wins of conviction as much as skill.
Although Western United are without indisputable game changers like Chloe Logarzo and Jess McDonald, it has not changed their mentality. They expect to win every game, and although Melbourne City created multiple chances, Western United held their nerve, maintained their counterattacking game plan, and took their chances.
The stats sheet will tell you that City dominated, but Hillary Beall’s explosive run off her line to deny Julia Grosso a near certain goal, and Kahli Johnson’s long run down the wing to earn a penalty were defining moments of a team that has not waivered in belief.
Canberra United’s win over Sydney FC should eliminate any doubts about team morale. They are no one-woman team, but the first of their big losses came without Grace Maher in the midfield.
Her last-minute corner kick was hit perfectly. It was too high for Jada Whyman to jump at with confidence and placed perfectly for Ellie Brush to nod home a dramatic winner.
Even without Mackenzie Hawkesby, Sydney FC’s free scoring attack is the last team anybody would want to face when out of form. However, Canberra’s win was one of composure, and character when it mattered.
Their 10 goals conceded in that nightmare run may yet come back to haunt them, but they have bounced back in a way that will restore belief among the fans and the players. This was a huge response.
How will Victory replace Chidiac?
Hope remains that she can stay, but all signs point to Alex Chidiac departing Melbourne Victory after the international break.
The NWSL pre-season has already commenced and the playmaker is a required player for Racing Louisville FC. Chidiac has been one of the stars of the competition, she has five assists and six goals in just over half a season. Hers are impossible boots to fill, yet Jeff Hopkins and Melbourne Victory must find a way.
Luckily for the defending champions, Melina Ayres and Catherine Zimmerman have regained fitness just in time. Zimmerman was instrumental in last week’s win over The Wanderers, and Ayres was only denied a winning goal by the form of Hensley Hancuff.
Victory has options. They have toyed with pushing Elise Kellond-Knight further forward, while youngsters like Paige Zois and Alana Murphy have been impressive when given chances this season.
Aside from Chidiac, their most in-form attacker has been Beattie Goad. The Matilda is adept at full back and left wing, but earned her reputation as a number 10 in the NPLW and at Stanford in the U.S college system.
With Victory’s wide options increasing, they could move Goad to a more central area and use Lia Privitelli on the left.
Chidiac’s departure would have been expected by Hopkins and the club. She has been magnificent in her loan spell, but it will be fascinating to see how Victory cope without her.
The race for the top four grows ever more interesting
The top four of the A-League Women has been pretty consistent for much of this season, and there is a five point gap between fourth and fifth place on the table. However, there are no guarantees and with seven weeks left before finals, others are starting to believe.
Canberra United’s win brings them to fifth, they have game breakers in the squad and if they can beat Sydney FC, they can beat anybody. Their negative goal difference puts them in a less certain position than the team two places behind them.
Perth Glory have two games in hand, and seem to have put their stuttering start to the season behind them. They have now won their last three games, conceded once, and scored nine times. The can score in different ways, have multiple reliable set piece, and penalty takers and Sofia Sakalis’s NPLW form has started to translate to the A-League Women’s. They are looking ominous.
Western Sydney, and Brisbane Roar are still in the hunt. Neither are easy to beat, but with only one team likely to drop out of the top four they cannot afford to slip up.
Game to watch in Week 15: Perth Glory vs Brisbane Roar
It is one of the longest trips in domestic football. Brisbane Roar will travel to play Perth Glory next Saturday for their first meeting this season.
A win for Glory enhances their top four credentials, but Brisbane has the players to make this a danger game for Alex Epakis’s in-form players.
Hensley Hancuff is one of the leagues best goalkeepers, Shea Connors sent a reminder to the league that she can pull a goal out of nothing, and Indiah-Paige Riley has added an extra dimension to the attack.
This game is almost an early final for both teams. More importantly for the neutral fans, they both know goal difference will be important. Glory have the home ground advantage, but these two teams played out a couple of classic games last seasons with very similar squads.
There is every chance, this will be another.