Sydney FC have shown they will be one of the heavyweight’s this season, defeating a dogged Newcastle Jet’s side 3-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Last season’s beaten grand finalists began the game in a menacing mood, with the attacking trident of Princess Ibini, Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine hounding the Newcastle defence. The latter had the first chance of the game after five minutes, releasing a fearsome drive that just went past the post.
The Jets were able to weather the storm and slowly began to make their way into the game, with star striker Tara Andrews getting the team’s first shot on target; her shot was tame however and caused no issues for the Sydney custodian Jada Whyman.
However, she could do nothing about Sydney’s next attack, as Siemsen was able to outsmart and outmuscle Hannah Brewer, and she is able to poke the ball home to give the home side the lead after 52 minutes.
Sydney doubled their lead just six minutes later, with Cortnee Vine once again being provider, getting away from her marker and releasing a low cross to which Ibini tapped in.
But no sooner had the Jets got back into the game had Sydney restored their two goal advantage. Sarah Hunter’s flick on from a corner was met by Vine, who got a goal that her performance merited.
The Jets nearly got a goal back again, as Brodigan cannoned a shot off the bar. But their task was made all but impossible when Tiana Jaber was sent off for a second yellow card in the 77th minute.
Sydney FC were able to comfortably see the game home. The Jets put in a valiant effort as the underdogs, but Sydney simply had too much firepower up front for the team from the Hunter to deal with.
Sydney’s attack is one that is feared by defences around the league, with Ibini’s dribbling prowess and pace and Siemsen’s movement dragging the Jets backline all around the pitch.
Yet it was the 22-year-old Cortnee Vine who stood out the most in a first half where much of Sydney’s enterprising play came down her right hand side.
She had two early chances, forcing the Jets keeper into a smothering save, and her link up play with recent Matilda debutant Siemsen was brilliant to watch.
Possessing a perfect blend of pace and power, she was like a terrier, attempting to get on the end of loose balls trying to catch the Jets defence out when they were in possession. She also did her part in tracking back and helped nullify Newcastle’s forays forward.
And when Sydney did break down the Jets rearguard, it was Vine who played a sublime ball over the top of the defence for Siemsen to capitalise on, as well as squaring the ball for Ibini.
She rounded off her wonderful performance with a goal in the 69th minute.
FENTON A MORE THAN CAPABLE DEPUTY
A big talking point when the starting line up’s were announced was the absence of Newcastle’s defensive stalwart Gema Simon. The experienced fullback is usually a key figure and leader at the back for the Jets, and fans had reason to be concerned at her absence, considering that Siemsen and Vine were on the prowl down the Jet’s left hand side.
Any fears the Hunter club may have had were soon eased, as Kirsty Fenton put in an admirable shift at left back. Vine was on her back from the outset, however the 17 year-old held her own. She produced some important sliding challenges and matched the physicality brought on by her opponents.
It isn’t easy for anyone to deal with the dynamic movement of Sydney’s front line – let alone for such a young player – however Fenton oozed calmness and determination as she held off the home side’s attack that was at time putting the Jet’s defence under relentless pressure.
She will be disappointed that Vine got the better of her for the second goal, but she can hold her head high after that performance.
SYDNEY = CONSISTENCY
Sydney FC manager Ante Juric has made a concerted effort in keeping the bulk of Sydney’s squad together over a long period of time to build a strong connection and chemistry between the players.
Compared to many A-League Women’s teams who are forced to heavily change their teams season upon season, Sydney decided against widespread changes and have been able to create one of the strongest all-round teams in the league.
Their attack is one of the most well-rounded in the league; despite the Jets best efforts, they were eventually overrun by the quality and almost telepathic understanding the Sydney trio possess.
Their midfield is also solid, with Hunter, Taylor Ray and Mackenzie Hawkesby providing a strong base in the middle of the park to offer quality and consistent service to the forward line. Hunter, a 17 year-old signed from local rivals Western Sydney showed her class and intuition in attack, with her smart flick on helping Vine score her goal.
And despite a lapse in judgement for Newcastle’s goal, the back four held their ground, with Jada Whyman being well protected. The shotstopper was also able to effectively deal with many of the threats posed by the away side.
Expect them to be near the top of the table this season.
A-League Women, Round One
Sydney FC 3 (Siemsen 52m, Ibini 58m, Vine 69m)
Newcastle Jets 1 (Allan 67m)