The second round of the A-League Women provided some answers and more questions about how this season will pan out. Kick360 looks at the weekends biggest talking points.
The weekend’s matches started with the three simultaneous games. Brisbane Roar and Canberra United played out a 1-1 draw. Grace Jale opened the scoring in the 23’rd minute. She bundled the ball over the line from close range to give Canberra the lead.
It was Jale’s second in as many games, and her the form the showed at Heidelberg United has been carried through to the A-League Womens.
It was an attacking and fairly open game from both sides. In the 53rd minute, Brisbane levelled the scores through Larissa Crummer.
Sharn Freier ran onto a long goal kick and played it across the box. Shea Connors shot was saved but Crummer finished well from the rebound to rescue a point for the home side.
Melbourne Victory travelled to face Sydney FC in the highly anticipated Grand Final rematch. The game itself was not as exciting as the occasion. Victory barley registered a shot on target, and only Casey Dumont’s one on one saves from Cortnee Vine kept the champions in the contest early.
Sydney FC took the lead through an excellent Madison Haley effort. The new recruit cruised around Dumont and with two Victory players on the line, found the gap to put the ball.
Before half time it was 2-0, after an unlucky own goal to Dumont. Princess Ibini created space on the wing, but her cross was only made dangerous by a mix up between the goalkeeper and Kayla Morrison. Victory also lost Catherine Zimmerman to a broken leg in a weekend to forget, but Sydney FC had their Grand Final revenge.
Newcastle United defeated a new look Western Sydney 4-2 with both sides scoring some spectacular goals and the Jets finding a new star. Western United delivered another 4-1 defeat to Wellington Phoenix with Jess McDonald and Hannah Keane proving uncontainable up front.
Sunday’s only game was an intriguing encounter, an injury hit Adelaide United beat Perth Glory 1-0 in a match that underlines their potential for the season.
Round Two talking points
Sydney FC suddenly look much stronger
In Round One, Sydney FC’s front three did not function as well as they have in the past. Against Melbourne Victory, they once again looked like the team that has won two premierships in a row. Madison Haley was excellent as the centre forward. Her movement and experience in the role allowed Cortnee Vine more space behind the defence and in central areas than she enjoyed last week.
The goal was very well taken, but more importantly for the season ahead she provided them with structure in attack. The return of Remy Siemsen to the squad gives manager Ante Juric a very good set of problems.
Much was made of this match being a chance for revenge for successive Grand Final losses to Victory. Vine seemed content after the game, and earlier in the week had expressed some frustration that the Grand Final is more highly prized than the Premiers Plate.
It remains an interesting and enduring discussion in Australian football. But last season, the finals series was more important than usual.
With teams geographically uprooted, and others hit severely by COVID, being first past the post was an incredible achievement. Nevertheless, the Grand Final was at least an equally valued prize given the unprecedented circumstances of the season.
Sydney FC seemed to agree. Their intensity and high work rate across the park was symbolic of a team wanting to rectify that loss and assert their place as the country’s top side.
It was not a classic match, but it was a highly competitive one, especially so early in the season.
This might be the most intense rivalry in the competition, and Victory will need to improve in all areas by the time they face each other again.
Ash Wilson finds another gem
Each season, Newcastle Jets must virtually start again. They have their local stars that loyally return such as Tara Andrews and Lauren Allan. However, coach Ash Wilson must search the globe for unheralded recruits that have the potential to light up their season.
In 2021/22 that was Marie Dolvik and Elizabeth Eddy. This season she has delivered a new hero for the Newcastle fans.
Sarah Griffith scored a perfect hattrick against Western Sydney. She opened the scoring in the 12th minute. Although The Wanderers drew level with a brilliant Melissa Casceres volley, it only seemed to fire Griffith up more. She scored twice more before being substituted in the 77th minute.
This was the round’s most entertaining match. With six goals shared between the teams, including some belters.
Few were optimistic about Newcastle’s season before Round One. Two weeks later, they look to be an exciting proposition. Griffith looked dangerous last week and delivered this week.
If she can maintain this, Newcastle are a chance in any match.
Chelsie Dawber doesn’t need a shot for one opportunity
For the second game in a row, Adelaide United have all three points. Once again it was the right boot of local born striker Chelsie Dawber that made the difference. She is yet to score this season, and has had few actual shots on goal herself. Instead, she has two assists on her return to the club after a season in Chicago.
Dawber positions herself on the right of the attack. Although she is a striker, she tends to drop deep or move out wide to find the space, similar to how Kyah Simon is deployed for the national team.
Her mobility makes her hard to track, and she is happy to venture into areas that make her less likely to score herself but will open up space for her teammates.
The precision of her right foot means that she only needs a single opportunity to create a match winning chance. Against Sydney FC in Round One, it was a long curling pass to the head of Emilia Murray. Away to Perth Glory, she cut the ball through a crowded penalty area to find Dylan Holmes who was arriving at full pace.
Dawber scored 10 goals last season for The Reds, impressed with the Australian Under 23 side, and looks to be in dangerous form again this season.
Central defenders are usually happy for their opposing striker to get the ball far away from goal. In Dawber’s case, it can signal immediate danger.
Next week’s must watch game
It is still early in the season, but the league’s two in-form sides meet next week. With Melbourne City having a BYE for Round 2, only Adelaide United and Western United have a perfect record, that will change in Round Three.
Western United have started the season in the same form than many of the Calder United graduates finishes the NPL year. They have won both games, instantly adjusted to the top level, and their star recruits Sydney Cummings, Jess McDonald and Hillary Beall have made big impacts.
McDonald has scored in both games and has an ability to turn any half chance into a shot on target. Her strike partner Hannah Keane scored twice against Wellington after tormenting Victory without a goal in their opening game.
Adelaide United have a sense of momentum and destiny about them this season. The PFA report indicated that teams with stable line ups from year to year, generally performed better, which bodes well for Adrian Stenta’s team.
Adelaide have only needed to replace Matilda McNamara from last season from their best 11. Ella Tonkin has continued in that role with ease, and Jenna McCormick is another quality option.
Adelaide will go into this game in the unfamiliar position of being favourites. But if they win it will make another strong statement.
If Western United get three points, It will be a remarkable start to the season by a newcomer. Despite their two wins, they still have room for improvement, with Jaclyn Sawicki and Chloe Logarzo still finding their feet and full fitness in their new surroundings.
This will be an intriguing encounter.