Melbourne City FC has the opportunity to secure their third consecutive Westfield W-League Championship when they play Sydney FC in the Grand Final on Sunday at Allianz Stadium.
How to watch
The match gets underway at 5:00pm (AEDT) on Sunday, 18th February at Allianz Stadium. Get your tickets here.
The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 501 and SBS Viceland.
You can also keep up with all the action as it happens by following our official Twitter account @MelbCityWFC.
Set the scene for me…
Melbourne City FC qualified for their third consecutive Westfield W-League Grand Final following their 2-0 win over reigning Premiers Brisbane Roar at Perry Park last Sunday.
In hot and humid conditions in Brisbane, the two Semi Finalists battled out a tough first-half of football.
In testing conditions, the momentum ebbed and flowed throughout the first 45 minutes.
City’s first chance of the match came in the third minute, following a delightful run by American import Ashley Hatch on the right wing. Hatch turned Carson Pickett, before sending a beautifully weighted ball into the area, which was met by Jess Fishlock. Fishlock’s glancing header from close range travelled just wide.
Four minutes later, set-piece specialist Lauren Barnes tried her luck from 25 yards, but the American’s dead ball strike was a fraction too high.
Brisbane’s first chance of the half – their best chance of the half – came in the 18th minute. Allira Toby was found at the near post, but the striker miscued her attempt, taking an air-swing from close range.
Following a solid half of football, the half-time interval looked to have arrived at the ideal time for both teams, as the sweltering conditions began to take their toll on the players.
There were signs in the opening stages of the second period that the match was about to open up, and it was up to one team to take hold of their opportunities.
The first of those chances came the way of the home side when Katrina Gorry whipped in a perfectly disguised set-piece that met Celeste Boureille at the far post. Boureille’s resulting header skipped past both the goal and the fast approaching Tameka Butt by a matter of inches.
It was an early let off for City, and a chance that would come back to haunt the 2017/18 Premiers.
Kyah Simon spurred a City response with two successive chances – the first of those chances came on the 63rd minute. Jodie Taylor laid the ball off for the attacker, who unleashed a thunderous strike from outside the area that cannoned into the crossbar.
Three minutes later City would eventually break the deadlock through Aivi Luik. Following a dominant display anchoring the midfield, Luik drifted forward where she tried her luck from just outside the box – her effort took a deflection off Roar captain Clare Polkinghorne, before beating Mackenzie Arnold in goal.
In the 72nd minute, City would double their lead and secure their spot in a third consecutive Grand Final. Simon’s brilliant vision allowed her to play Fishlock in-behind the Roar defence, the Welsh maestro then made no mistake with a beautiful chip over the keeper.
City will be vying for their third consecutive Championship win against Sydney FC, a side that has hit tremendous form following a slow start to the season.
Sydney took a 2-0 first-half lead in their Semi Final against Newcastle, before conceding two second-half goals, including a stoppage time equaliser sending the game into extra-time.
Ante Juric’s side dominated proceedings in extra-time against a 10-woman Jets outfit, and took the lead in the 98th minute through Lisa De Vanna.
Despite the win, the Sky Blues were dealt a blow with star-attacker and Matildas international Caitlin Foord succumbing to injury prior to the half-time interval – an injury that will keep her out of Sunday’s Grand Final. Foord was the standout player in the first-half, scoring the opener in the ninth minute.
Not only do City and Sydney contain two of the most exhilarating attacking outfits in the league, but also two of the best defensive units.
Led by captain Steph Catley, alongside Alanna Kennedy, Rebekah Stott and Lauren Barnes, City again displayed their defensive strengths nullifying a dangerous Roar outfit.
On the counter, Sydney’s defence contains the experienced duo of Caitlin Cooper and American import Emily Sonnett – one of the league’s best recruits this season.
The two teams have only met on one occasion this season, when Sydney defeated City 3-2 at Allianz Stadium in Round 4 thanks to a dramatic stoppage time winner by Remy Siemsen.
It’s hard to imagine that the result will mean much come Sunday, not only was it three months ago, but this is a Grand Final – it’s the biggest stage, it’s what the players play for, and previous results mean very little.
Sunday’s win against the Roar again showcased City’s ability to stand up when the stakes are highest, and there’s no reason why this Sunday will be any different.
What’s the team news?
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (Gk), 2.Yukari KINGA, 3.Lauren BARNES, 4.Ashley HATCH, 5.Lia MULDEARY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 9.Larissa CRUMMER, 10.Jess FISHLOCK, 11.Rhali DOBSON, 12.Jodie TAYLOR , 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Alanna KENNEDY, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Sofia SAKALIS, 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 20.Emily SHIELDS (Gk)
**two to be omitted**
Ins: 5. Lia MULDEARY (promoted), 9. Larissa CRUMMER (promoted), 16. Sofia SAKALIS (promoted)
Westfield W-League Grand Final
Sunday 18 February 2018
Sydney FC vs Melbourne City FC
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 5:00pm (AEDT)