Melbourne City Women’s quest for a finals spot continued shakily on Sunday afternoon, as City drew 0-0 with league leaders the Brisbane Roar.
In the W-League’s first 0-0 draw since Perth Glory tied with the Brisbane Roar on November 12, 2016, City had the best of the W-League’s pace-setters for much of the contest.
Despite this, City were unable to find a breakthrough in the contest, despite fantastic performances from attackers Kyah Simon and Rhaili Dobson.
The result means that while City can go a long way to confirming a finals appearance with a win in Newcastle next week, the return leg of a fixture that City won 5-2 at AAMI Park back in Round 3 of the season, goal difference may come into play in determining exactly who advances to the finals.
Head Coach Paddy Kisnorbo made one change to his Starting XI following the 2-1 defeat to the Victory in last weeks Melbourne Derby, Dobson slotting onto the left wing in place of Tyla Jay Vjlanic.
With Jodie Taylor in Spain for a Training Camp with the English National Team, Larissa Crummer made a return to the squad, available off the bench.
City would have the first chance of a subdued opening after four minutes of play; Aivi Luik playing Dobson in behind the Roar defence, who drew a foul from Roar defender Claire Polkinghorne, only for Jess Fishlock to put the resulting free kick over the bar.
Whilst Emily Gielnik would launch a speculative effort towards goal three minutes later, Brisbane would have their first truly promising stretch of play in the 13th minute.
Hayley Raso won the ball on the left before running parallel to goal, sublimely beating three City defenders as she did so, before laying it off to Gielnik, who’s long range shot was saved by Lydia Williams.
20 seconds later Raso launched a shot herself, only for Williams to parry the shot away.
With the games speed increasing, play was developing into a back and forth duel, with City creating more shots on goal despite the Roar controlling the majority of possession.
And City would be the ones to next go close, with two corners in two minutes creating chances for Alanna Kennedy and Simon; Kennedy rising highest to launch a header just wide of the far post in the 20th minute and Simon ghosting to the back post and launching a low shot that Roar keeper Mackenzie Arnold was able to dig out.
As they did for much of the early stages of the first half, the Roar would quickly respond, full back Carson Pickett getting in behind Rebekah Stott on the left and cutting the ball back into the area, only for Tameka Butt to fail to make proper contact with her shot and not challenge Williams’ goal.
Looking to counter, City frequently found themselves bogged down outside of the Roar's penalty area, The Brisbane defence swarming potential attacks and City forwards finding themselves surrounded by upwards of three orange shirts whenever they came within sight of the goals.
City captain would Steph Catley would seek to bypass this tactic and launch a long range effort from deep on the left wing that very almost looped over Arnold in the Roar goal, the Brisbane goalkeeper rapidly backpaddling to make the save.
Raso would again go close as Brisbane countered, getting played through by Summer O’Brien down the left before launching a shot on a difficult angle that was saved by Williams.
Despite this attack, City began to get on top as the half progressed, pressing high up the field and forcing the Roar to look to clear pressure from the backline rather than deliberately build their attacks.
Simon and Fishlock would combine well in the 40th minute of play, Simon playing a lovely flick to Fishlock before running in behind the Roar defence to receive the one-two pass, only for her shot to be dug out once again by Arnold.
City continued to loom over the hosts as the second half resumed, Ashely Hatch creating a number of half chances in the opening exchanges and Fishlock launching a long-range probing effort in the 52nd minute.
Two minutes later Catley would provide a dangerous ball into the penalty area that somehow cleared three waiting City attackers and was scrambled clear by the Roar defence.
Despite these early chances, the game would begin to settle into an uneventful rhythm, City having the best of the game as the denied the Roar any clear chances, whilst simultaneously failing to create any clear chances of their own.
It would take until the 69th for City to get going again and create more clear goalscoring opportunities, with their first chances coming when Dobson would go close twice in two minutes for City.
Dobson’s first chance was created off a Brisbane turnover, the ball falling to Fishlock who floated a ball over the top of the Roar defence in the direction of Kinga.
The ball would sail past Kinga, continuing onto Rhali Dobson at the back post. Her resulting shot beat Arnold, but bounced off the far post and back into play to be cleared by the Roar defence.
A minute later Dobson’s second effort would be created by some stellar work by Simon.
Receiving the ball from Kinga, Simon would turn sharply and beat a number of Roar defenders in close quarters before sliding the ball across the area to Dobson, with her resulting low shot saved by Arnold.
Simon would have go on to have a shot of her own in the 80th minute, receiving a ball from Kennedy before teeing up a venomous strike that Arnold could only parry away.
City had truly taken control of the final stages of the contest, an 84th minute cross from the right by Dobson being scrambled away amid calls for a hand ball on Polkinghorne by the City attack and Dobson almost playing Crummer through in the 87th.
Westfield W-League Round 12
Sunday 21, January 2018
Melbourne City FC
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne City FC Squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (Gk), 2.Yukari KINGA, 3.Lauren BARNES, 4.Ashley HATCH, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 9.Larissa CRUMMER, 10.Jess FISHLOCK, 11.Rhali DOBSON, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Alanna KENNEDY, 15.Amy JACKSON, 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 23.Melissa HUDSON (Gk)
Head Coach: Patrick KISNORBO
Brisbane Roar FC Squad: 1.Mackenzie ARNOLD (Gk), 2.Carson PICKETT, 3.Amy CHAPMAN, 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE (c), 6.Celeste BOUREILLE, 8.Kaitlyn TORPEY, 9.Wai Ki CHEUNG, 10.Katrina GORRY, 12.Allira TOBY, 13.Tameka BUTT, 14.Summer O’BRIEN, 15.Abbey LLOYD, 16.Hayley RASO, 17.Emily GIELNIK, 20.Georgina WORTH (Gk)
Head Coach: Melisa Andreatta