Melbourne City FC has qualified for its consecutive Westfield W-League Grand Final following a superb 2-0 win over Premiers Brisbane Roar at Perry Park on Sunday.
Following a tight contest in hot conditions, the two teams headed into the half-time break with the scores locked at 0-0.
As the second-half progressed the game began to open up and City eventually broke the deadlock in the 66th minute through Aivi Luik, before Jess Fishlock doubled the visitors lead six minutes later handing them a 2-0 win
Patrick Kisnorbo’s side will be aiming to make it three Championship wins on the trot when they face Sydney FC in the 2017-18 Westfield W-League Grand Final next Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo made one change to the starting XI that beat Newcastle Jets 3-0 at McDonald Jones Stadium last week, with Ashley Hatch replacing Rhali Dobson on the wing.
Despite being allowed to have five players on the bench, Kisnorbo opted for four with Emily Shields, Tyla-Jay Vlajnic, Amy Jackson and Rhali Dobson all included.
Determined to book a place in their third consecutive Westfield W-League Grand Final, City wrestled the early ascendency at Perry Park.
In hot conditions, City’s first chance came in the third minute. American important Ashley Hatch did well to skip past Carson Pickett on the right wing before swinging in a perfect ball, her cross was met by Jess Fishlock but the Welsh maestro’s header from close range glanced wide of Mackenzie Arnold in goal.
Four minutes later Lauren Barnes went inches away from giving Patrick Kisnorbo’s side an early 1-0 lead. Hatch earned a free kick for the away side following a poor tackle from Brisbane’s Katrina Gorry, Barnes stepped up to take the set-piece from 25 yards but her effort was just high.
Brisbane’s first and best chance of the half came on the 18th minute mark. Allira Toby had a golden chance to put the home side ahead when she was found at the near post, but much to City’s delight the attacker could only muster an air-swing.
As the half progressed the contest became tighter, with neither team able to gain the ascendency.
Amidst the congestion, Fishlock was able to find space in the attacking third 15 minutes out from the half-time interval. The midfielder whipped in a perfectly placed cross across the face of goal beating three Roar defenders, Jodie Taylor was waiting at the back post but the ball skipped past her lunging effort – an agonisingly close finish to a brilliant piece of play.
As the temperature continued to boil, the players began to tire as the half-time interval approached – with both teams heading into the sheds with the scores level at 0-0.
Unlike the first period, it was the home side that started the second-half the stronger of the two sides.
Three minutes into the half, Alanna Kennedy was forced to foul a dangerous Hayley Raso who was striding towards goal. Gorry stepped up to take the free-kick, sending a perfectly disguised set-piece into the direction of Celeste Boureille. Boureille met the cross with a glancing header that skipped inches wide of both the far post and the fast approaching unmarked Tameka Butt.
The Roar’s early chance signalled the beginning of a half that was about to open up.
Following a tight opening hour of play, fatigue appeared to have a factor on the contest as the game turned into a fascinating display of end-to-end football.
Kyah Simon came agonisingly close to giving City the lead with two brilliant efforts on goal. The first came in the 63rd minute when Jodie Taylor laid the ball off to the attacker on the edge of the area, Simon then unleashed a fierce strike towards goal which cannoned into the crossbar.
A minute later Simon was found superbly at the back post, but last-ditch defending denied her from handing City the lead with a header.
Kisnorbo’s side would eventually break the deadlock in the 66th minute when Aivi Luik found the back of the net. Following a solid display anchoring the midfield, Luik drifted forward and pounced on the ball just outside the penalty area. Her strike deflected off Clare Polkinghorne beating Mackenzie Arnold in goal and giving City the all import lead.
Six minutes later Fishlock would double City’s lead, after Simon found her beautifully. Simon picked up the ball before quickly acknowledging Fishlock’s forward run, she then played it over Roar’s defence finding Fishlock one-on-one with the keeper. The Welsh international made no mistake, dinking the ball over Arnold brilliantly to hand City a 2-0 cushion.
Mel Andreatta’s side responded strongly to going behind, as Emily Gielnik found second-half substitute Abbey Lloyd inside the area. Lloyd went excruciatingly close to pegging a goal back for the home side as she watched her header beat Lydia Williams, rebound off the crossbar and then fall into the hands of the City keeper.
Gielnik then had a chance herself with six minutes of regulation time remaining as the ball fell to her inside the box, but the strong hands of Williams denied her.
It was a matter of too little too late for the Roar, as City registered their third consecutive Semi Final win following a comprehensive second-half performance.
Westfield W-League Semi Final
Sunday 11 February 2018
Brisbane Roar 0
Melbourne City FC 2
Venue: Perry Park, Brisbane
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)