W-League Preview: City to bounce back against Wanderers

After 19 matches and a historic Premiership and Championship double last season, Melbourne City’s hitherto unbeaten women’s team finally tasted defeat for the first time in the Westfield W-League.

Teenage forward Karly Roestbakken scored the winner just seven minutes from time as Canberra United snatched a 2-1 win at CB Smith Reserve; an outcome which finally put an end to City’s remarkable unbeaten run.  

The result was perhaps an indication of just how much the competition has developed in the wake of City’s momentous inaugural campaign, with a number of W-League clubs improving their recruiting in the off-season.

At the half-way point of the season, five of the competition’s nine teams are within two points of each other. City and Sydney are locked at the summit on 12 points - although Joe Montemurro’s side does have a match in hand - followed closely by Canberra, Perth Glory and Brisbane Roar (10 points), which clearly demonstrates how hotly contested this season will be.

City’s perfect start to the new season was epitomised by a steely resolve in defence, but defender Laura Alleway believes there are signs that the attacking flair which underpinned last season’s success is set to return as a team full of fresh faces begins to gel.

“I think the loss will be a good thing for us,” Alleway said. “It’s been fairly smooth sailing in the last season and coming into the new season without dropping points. So I think it’s a positive thing, it will shake us up a little, we’ll go back to the drawing board, we’ll work hard and we’ll get ready for next week.”

“We’re still meshing and getting used to each other and I think that will come. There have been a few moments where you can see there’s some awesome play up front and it’s just the final third, getting that clinical finishing in, but it will come. It’s early days still.

“We’re still a new squad. Everyone expects us to be the same as last year. The truth is we’ve got new players here. This is Bev’s [Beverly Yanez] second game, Erika [Tymrak] is still getting used to it.”

Alleway said credit must go Canberra - the competition’s two-time Premiers and two-time Champions - who have pushed City in all of its encounters in the past two seasons, and are shaping up as a serious title-contender.

“I think we created some good chances, but credit to Canberra, they played really well. They used their strength which is their speed up front and punished us.”’

Now placed in the unfamiliar position of bouncing back from defeat, City will travel to Popondetta Park to face a Western Sydney Wanderers outfit looking to jumpstart their league campaign.

The Wanderers will take plenty of confidence into Sunday’s home clash after showing fighting spirit last week against Melbourne Victory, where Rich Byrne’s side battled back twice to take home a valuable away point.

Forward Katie Stengel found the last minute equaliser to earn a share of the spoils in that encounter, and the Wanderers will once again look to the powerful American to lead from the front in attack. 

Match Details

Westfield W-League – Round 7

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Western Sydney Wanderers vs Melbourne City FC

Venue: Popondetta Park, Western Sydney

Kick-off: 3pm

Melbourne City FC squad: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 2. Teigen ALLEN, 3. Lauren BARNES, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Steph CATLEY (c), 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15. Amy JACKSON, 16. Beverly YANEZ, 17. Marianna TABAIN, 19. Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 26. Erin HUDSON (GK)

Ins: nil

Outs: nil

Unavailable: 9. Larissa CRUMMER (ankle – three weeks)