Joe Montemurro believes his Melbourne City Women’s side will only get better and better after beginning its Westfield W-League title defence with a testing 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday.
Marianna Tabain’s eighth minute header was enough to ensure City maintained its perfect start to W-League football, with the triumph over the Jets extending the Club’s record winning streak to 15 matches.
But Sunday’s contest at CB Smith Reserve served as an indication of just how challenging this season will be in comparison to the Premiership and Championship double achieved during City's inaugural W-League campaign.
Montemurro’s side defended stoutly to withstand a spirited Jets outfit in the second half, and it took a superb diving save from Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams to deny a powerful Emma Stanbury drive that guaranteed all three points.
While pleased with the result, the Head Coach believes there were some mitigating circumstances which made his side’s preparation less than ideal heading into the season opener.
“The team has been together for about three days in totality,” he said. “We’ve only done a little bit of work and some of them are coming of playing their last game of the season last week."
“Aivi Luik has just come back. Lauren Barnes and Jess Fishlock only flew in this week. Amy Jackson finished in Korea last week so she’s just been back four or five days.”
“We always knew we were going to tire and at stages it was going to be a bit messy, but we showed some very good signs and I’d like to think it’s a good platform for us to get better and better.
“Newcastle are a good side. They’ve always been a really well organised side and all credit to them.”
It was a test City’s new-look side passed in assured fashion. Williams showed all her experience with a confident display between the posts, while American defender Lauren Barnes demonstrated her quality going forward with an assist for Tabain’s opener.
New signings Teigen Allen and Erika Tymrak acquitted themselves well during their Club debuts in defence and midfield respectively, adding to the dynamism of captain Steph Catley, who continued her return to full fitness in a more advanced role on the left wing.
“We’ve got a lot more balance in terms of the whole squad,” Montemurro said. “We can bring in players that can play in multiple positions. We can bring in players so if we need to change the system straight away, we can change it. I’m very excited at the prospect of going forward with this team.
“That’s the beauty of this team this year, we can mix and match it and get what we need out of each player.”
After presiding over a record-breaking triumph last season, Montemurro acknowledged how much the competition has improved in the early stages of the new campaign.
“It’s great to see the whole league has stepped up its game, that all the clubs have organised themselves earlier and got in some quality players. We expect it to be a very, very difficult league and it’s a credit to the other clubs and the league itself. We are looking for games that are going to be a lot more difficult, so we’ll see if will be a replica of last year.
City will travel to the nation’s capital to face Canberra United in Round 2 of the Westfield W-League on Saturday 12 November.