Melbourne City FC has suffered a 2-0 defeat against Canberra United at McKellar Park on Sunday.
It was a case of missed opportunities in the first-half for Rado Vidosic’s team, as the home side capitalised on their chances in the second period.
Rhonda Mulaudzi opened the scoring in the 57th minute when she combined with fellow South African Refiloe Jane, before dinking the ball over Lydia Williams in goal.
In the 85th minute, Ellie Carpenter doubled Canberra’s lead from close range when Mulaudzi turned provider and found the Matildas international inside the penalty area.
City will look to bounce back when they host Sydney FC in a blockbuster Grand Final re-match and double-header with the Men’s team at AAMI Park next Friday, 2 November.
Danish international Theresa Nielsen was selected to make her W-League debut in City colours, as fellow new-signings Jasmyne Spencer, Helen Caceres, Nia Stamatopoulos, Chelsea Blissett and Janna Lawson were all selected in Head Coach Rado Vidosic’s starting XI.
Lydia Williams was handed the captain’s armband in Steph Catley’s absence.
It may have been City’s first ever competitive fixture at McKellar Park in Canberra, but in perfect conditions the side from Melbourne settled into the game well.
With six new-signings starting the match, Rado Vidosic’s side looked to control possession from the back and ease into the contest. Lauren Barnes, Theresa Nielsen, Rebekah Stott and Amy Jackson looked to possess the ball and move it up the right-wing in the early stages of the match.
Despite City controlling possession, Canberra had the first real chance of the game in the 11th minute when Ellie Carpenter’s run down the right-wing earned the home side a corner. Refiloe Jane’s resulting set-piece found Natasha Prior but her effort was skied over the crossbar.
In the 19th minute City responded with their first threatening chance. Danish international Theresa Nielsen played the ball to Rahli Dobson who produced a brilliant turn before her resulting pass took a deflection and fell to Janna Lawson on the left, with her header sailing just wide of the back post.
It was a moment that turned the half in favour of the visitor’s as they gathered momentum and continued to press for the opener.
In the 25th minute, Rebekah Stott went on a barnstorming run from defence, skipping past two Canberra midfielders before finding 15-year-old debutant Nia Stamatopoulos, whose low drive was just wide of the right upright.
It was a sign of things to come, as less than 60 seconds later Dobson missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock. In her City debut, Helen Caceres played a perfectly weighted ball which found the winger at the back post, but her header cannoned into the cross-bar.
Vidosic’s side continued to press and in the 28th minute Lawson combined with Caceres before the latter’s low drive was met by Shamiran Khamis in front of the fast approaching Jasmyne Spencer.
Three minutes later it was Rebekah Stott again charging out of defence. This time the New Zealand international tried her luck from 20 yards, but her effort was just wide, much to Khamis’ relief.
In the 32nd minute, Carpenter looked to respond for the home side. The defender skipped into the box before she was faced with a perfectly-timed tackle by Lauren Barnes to deny her a shot on goal.
City best chance of the half came in the 37th minute when Stamatopoulos’ brilliant corner found Spencer unmarked, but the American’s effort sailed over the crossbar.
Much-like they finished the first-half, City looked to get on the front foot in the early stages of the second period.
Three-minutes into the half Lawson earned a corner following a dangerous build up involved both Stamatopoulos and Dobson.
In the 53rd minute, Spencer looked to slip out the back and in-between Canberra’s defence as Barnes found the attacker with a brilliant through ball, but Khamis was quick to react and take the ball off the top of Spencer’s toes.
Four minutes later the home side would respond and break the deadlock to make it 1-0. South African duo Refiloe Jane combined with Rhoda Mulaudzi, whose dinking effort beat an on-coming Lydia Williams.
Despite falling behind City continued to press in search of an equaliser. Spencer continued to look dangerous in the attacking third, as Adriana Jones looked to make an immediate impact on her City debut. In the 78th minute Jones thought she’d found the equaliser from close range but she was ruled offside following a brilliant individual effort from Nielsen.
Two minutes later it was the home side’s turn to be ruled out as Mulaudzi finished truly before being ruled offside.
In the 85th minute the home side would extend their lead as Mulaudzi turned provider, finding Carpenter in the penalty area who made no mistake from close range, leaving Williams with no chance.
City will look to bounce back when they host Sydney FC in a massive double-header and Grand Final re-match next Friday, 2 November at AAMI Park, kick-off 5:20pm.