Melbourne City FC capped off a perfect inaugural season in Women’s football by claiming the Westfield W-League Championship with a 4-1 win over Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon.
In front of 4,206 passionate fans at AAMI Park, City looked to be crusing to the Championship trophy after goals to Jennifer Beattie and Kim Little either side of the break gave Joe Montemurro’s side a 2-0 advantage.
Sydney were handed a lifeline when Kyah Simon converted from the penalty spot with only 20 minutes to play, until late goals to Beattie Goad and Lisa De Vanna sealed a memorable Grand Final win.
The result capped off an astonishing maiden campaign for City in Women’s football, with the Club becoming the first team in Westfield W-League history to record a Premiership and Championship double without losing a single game.
Scottish midfielder Kim Little was City’s chief architect in the final third, claiming the Player of the Match award after having a hand in each of City's four goals.
After calmly negotiating a dramatic penalty shootout in the Semi Final against Brisbane last week, a historic double was well within touching distance for a City side who has taken the W-League by storm.
But standing in Melbourne’s way was a Sydney FC outfit who had experienced the euphoria of W-League success twice before. Entering the season decider with the underdogs tag firmly placed around its neck, the visitors embraced the opening stages of the match with a sense of adventure and freedom.
Sydney forward Simon was a particular threat down the right hand side and created a golden chance inside the opening three minutes, drilling a dangerous ball across goal for Jasmyne Spencer, who saw her effort blocked by a superb tackle from Laura Alleway.
Brianna Davey had to dive low to hold onto a curling set-piece from Alanna Kennedy only two minutes later, but was otherwise left untested for the remainder of the half as City began to stamp its authority on the contest.
Alleway was a constant threat from set pieces and came close to giving her side the advantage in the 21st minute with a header that just sailed over the bar, but it was her defensive partner Beattie who fired City into the lead only ten minutes later.
The towering defender latched on to a tantalising cross from Little but saw her initial header saved by Michelle Betos, before bundling home the rebound as City’s dominance finally came to fruition on the scoreboard.
Goad was proving to be a nuisance on the right for City and had two golden opportunities to double the lead after being put through on goal by both Little and Lisa De Vanna, but could only manage to steer her efforts into the arms of Betos as Montemurro’s went into the break holding a slender advantage.
City turned up the heat in the second half in search of a killer second goal, which came in sensational fashion through the genius of midfield maestro Little.
Standing over a set-piece 22 yards out from goal after Kennedy was penalised for a tough challenge on Beattie, Little picked her spot with aplomb, curling a sensational effort past Betos into the top corner to make it 2-0.
Sydney immediately sparked into action as Simon and Spencer both blazed efforts over the crossbar after finding space in the penalty area, while Little came agonisingly close to completing a double when she rattled the base of the post after a neat pass from Beattie Goad.
But the visitors were thrown a lifeline in the 69th minute when referee Kate Jacewicz pointed to the spot after Beattie was adjudged to have fouled Kennedy inside the area, with Simon coolly burying her effort past Davey to ensure a tense finale.
Davey had to be at her best to palm a wicked cross from Kennedy over the crossbar in the 74th minute, but City would have one hand on the trophy only five minutes later after a swift counter-attack.
A sweeping pass from the lively De Vanna saw Goad race clean through on goal, with the youngster holding her nerve to slip the ball past the onrushing Betos to spark wild celebrations amongst the home fans.
Betos produced a magnificent double save to deny Jess Fishlock and Little from adding to the scoreline, before De Vanna put the icing on the cake with a superb chip in injury time to give City a deserved title win.
Westfield W-League 2015/16 Grand Final
Sunday, January 31 2016
Melbourne City FC 4 (Jennifer BEATTIE 32’, Kim LITTLE 54’, Beattie GOAD 80’, Lisa De VANNA 90+5’)
Sydney FC 1 (Kyah SIMON 69’ [pen])
Venue: AAMI Park
Referee: Kate Jacewicz
Melbourne City FC line-up: 1. Brianna DAVEY (GK), 4. Jennifer BEATTIE, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Steph CATLEY, 8. Kim LITTLE, 9. Larissa CRUMMER (Marianna TABAIN 67’), 10. Jessica FISHLOCK (Alexandra CHIDIAC 89’), 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 16. Beattie GOAD (Amy JACKSON 86’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Trudy BURKE (GK), 18. Anisa GUAJARDO
Yellow cards: Beattie 64’
Red cards: Nil
Sydney FC line-up: 1. Michelle BETOS (GK), 2. Elizabeth RALSTON, 5. Jasmyne SPENCER, 6. Teresa POLIAS, 7. Nicola BOLGER, 9. Princess IBINI-ISEI (Sunny FRANCO 63’), 11. Natalie TOBIN (Renee ROLLASON 73’), 14. Alanna KENNEDY, 15. Teigen ALLEN, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Leena KHAMIS
Substitutes not used: 18. Shamiran KHAMS, 12. Olivia PRICE, 16. Hannah BACON
Yellow cards: Tobin 26’, Simon 53’
Red cards: Nil