Melbourne City’s Women produced one of their best performances of the season Sunday afternoon, securing a comprehensive 3-0 win over the Perth Glory at the City Football Academy.
First half goals to Ashley Hatch, Tyla Jay Vlajnic and Yukari Kinga secured the win for City, who launched themselves into third position on the W-League table and back into the finals places with the performance.
It was a game marked by City’s dominance of possession and stranglehold of the midfield, with City’s crushing pressure and clampdown on supply preventing the Glory from even producing an effort on goal until late in the first half and only having their first shot on target late in the second.
City will next week take on cross-town rivals the Melbourne Victory at Epping Stadium, the return fixture from their round 2 encounter that saw City run out 1-0 winners at AAMI Park.
Head coach Paddy Kisnorbo rewarded the players that defeated the West Sydney Wanderers on New Year’s Day, with Sunday’s starting XI unchanged from the side that got the 1-0 win in Sydney.
Guest player Jodie Taylor was named to make her second appearance for City, the Lioness once again starting on the bench as the Lioness continued her acclimatization to Australian conditions.
Seeking retribution for the 4-1 drubbing they received at the hands of the Glory in round 1, City started the game brightly, having the game’s first chance after three minutes of play.
It was City captain Steph Catley who had the chance, with the City left back seizing on a loose ball outside the penalty box after Glory knocked it free from striker Kyah Simon and launching a speculative effort, only for the ball to sail wide of the goal.
City would go close again in the following minutes, Jess Fishlock launching the ball just over the bar after being fed the ball by Aivi Luik in the 8th minute and Ashley Hatch jumping after loosely controlled save by Glory goalkeeper Melissa Maizels in the 10th minute.
City’s exclusivity over the early chances was an accurate reflection of the initial ebbs and flows of the game, with City completely dominating the middle of the park and seizing the lion’s share of possession, calmly knocking the ball between themselves as they probed the Perth defence for openings.
Perth’s brief periods of possession in these early stages, and indeed the first half in general, were marked by their attempts to get the ball to their dynamic strike pairing of Sam Kerr and Rachell Hill – One and Two respectively in the W-League’s Golden Boot race – in behind the City defence.
These attempts were for nought however, with the City defence of Catley, Barnes, Kennedy and Stott awake to the Glory’s strategy and clamping down on any speculative passes forward.
Fishlock would have a series of chances to grab the game’s first in the 18th minute, forcing Maizels to parry her shot out for a corner before launching a long-range effort goalward after City worked the resulting corner to her outside the penalty area.
The pressure on the Glory continued to mount, and on 23 minutes the defence cracked when City’s American import Hatch got her second goal of the season.
The move began just inside the Glory half, when Cately dispossessed Glory talisman Kerr and played the ball through to Fishlock in the centre of the midfield.
The 30-Year-Old controlled the ball, before playing it through to midfield partner Yukari Kinga, with the Japanese international in turn playing the ball through the Perth defence to Hatch for a 1 on 1 with Maizels.
The Californian would make no mistake and coolly slot it to give City the lead.
The game's first true sighting of Kerr occurred soon after the re-start, when in the 29th minute she picked up a ball just inside the City half and ran straight at the heart of the City defence.
The 2017 AFC Player of the Year was well marshalled by fellow Matilda Kennedy however, with the veteran defender not allowing Kerr any space to work with and forcing her to lay off a wayward pass which City easily cleared.
City would clamp down on any potential Glory fightback that could have been sparked by Kerr, seizing back control of possession and four minutes later would go on to grab their second.
It was Vlajnic with the goal, the 27-year-old getting on the end of a sublime ball from Simon and slotting it past Maizels from an acute angle to give City an important two goal buffer over their finals-chase rivals.
In a testament to City’s complete control of the game in the first half, it was not until the 39th minute of the opening stanza that the Glory would have their first true shot in anger.
It came when Hill, under pressure on the edge of the City area, would play a squaring ball back to Nicole Stanton about 25 yards out from the goal.
Stanton would try her luck with a long range effort, only to see her effort not trouble Lydia Williams in the City goal as the ball sailed to the left of the post and out for a goal kick.
Two minutes later in the 41st minute City would cap a treble off a dominating first half with a third goal.
Hatch, advancing up the right wing, would play in a low cross that strayed to close to Maizels.
The Glory goalkeeper was unable to cleanly collect the ball however, spilling it in front of her and allowing Kinga to pounce on it, the 33-year-old poking in a true poachers goal and putting City ahead 3-0 on the stroke of half time.
Despite the Glory making a more positive start to the game in the second half, stringing together a few more passes in the midfield, and continuing to attempt to play good football as proceedings progressed – City were still in firm control of the game for much of the second.
This control was almost marked in the 50th minute with a fourth goal for the hosts, only for Maizels to produce a magnificent one-on-one save to deny Hatch.
Simon and Fishlock combined well on some back and forth passing in the midfield to produce the chance, with Fishlock then playing a perfectly weighted through ball to set up Hatch with the shot.
Hatch opted for power over placement with her effort, blasting it towards goal, only to be denied by a twitch save from Maizels to keep it 3-0. `
Much as they had done in their 5-2 demolition of Newcastle earlier in the season, City began to completely overwhelm the Glory as the second half wore on, teeing up chance after chance and threatening to turn the game into a drubbing for the Glory.
One of the best chances for the fourth goal came in the 65th minute, when Fishlock would pounce on a wayward clearance and launch a trademark 25-yard screamer, with the ball carrying just too high as it clattered off the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
The Glory would only produce their only clear cut chance for a goal in a game they would much sooner forget six minutes later, when on 71 minutes Kinga would bring down Kerr about 25 yards out from goal.
Stanton would step up to take the set piece, blasting an absolute thunderbolt toward goal, with Williams producing a fantastic leaping effort to her right get her fingertips to the ball and force it onto the post to maintain her clean sheet.
Almost as if they were spurned into action by the possibility of the Glory pegging one back, City re-intensified their pressure following the chance, launching attack after attack at an increasingly under siege Glory defence.
Substitute Rhaili Dobson would go close to grabbing the fourth in the 84th, the 25-year-old cutting into the box and letting loose with a stinging shot that clattered into the side netting.
And it was Fishlock, not content with only winning 3-0 and pushing hard right to the last in an effort to get a goal to her name, that would almost produce an absolute worldie with the last kick of the game.
Finding herself with a yard of space some distance from goal, City's Welsh superstar launched a trademark, acute angled, thirty-yard bomb that almost definitely would have been goal of the season had it gone in, only for Maizels to do amazingly well as she leapt skywards to tip the ball away.
Westfield W-League Round 10
Sunday 7, January 2018
Melbourne City FC
Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Melbourne City FC: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 2.Yukari KINGA, 3.Lauren BARNES, 4.Ashley HATCH, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (C), 10.Jess FISHLOCK, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Alanna KENNEDY, 17.Kyah SIMON, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC,
Substitutes: 11. Rhali DOBSON, 12. Jodie TAYLOR, 15.Amy JACKSON, 23.Melissa HUDSON (GK)
Head Coach: Patrick KISNORBO
Perth Glory Squad: 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Natasha RIGBY, 7.Nicole STANTON, 9.Rachel HILL, 10.Raquel RODRIGUEZ, 11. Nicola BOLGER, 16.Amanda FRISBIE, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Melissa MAIZELS (GK), 20.Samantha KERR (c),
Substitutes: 6. Danielle BROGAN, 8. Shawn BILLAM, 12.Shannon MAY, 30.Morgan AQUINO (GK)
Head Coach: Bobby Despotovski