Melbourne City FC battled back from a goal down to register a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Sydney FC on Sunday, after Jess Fishlock’s header cancelled out Caitlin Foord’s opener at Allianz Stadium.
Foord had given Sydney the lead midway through the second half with a brilliant solo effort, but Fishlock’s 75th minute header – and sixth goal of the W-League season – ensured City returned home with a valuable point.
It was a fitting way for the Welsh midfielder to cap off her first match in charge as interim W-League Head Coach, while the result sees City remain a point and game clear of Brisbane Roar in fourth position on the table.
Looking to snap a run of four matches without a win, City entered the Grand Final rematch with the tag of defending champions, but also a point to prove against a Sydney outfit brimming with confidence after three consecutive wins.
The hosts came close to taking a fortunate lead after just six minutes when Georgia Yeoman-Dale crashed her cross against the near post, otherwise it was City who enjoyed majority of the best openings in the first half.
Beverly Yanez was a constant threat on the left and manufactured City’s first chance of the match cutting inside and testing Sydney keeper Sham Khamis with a low effort.
Fishlock was once again pulling strings in midfield, slipping Larissa Crummer through on goal with a delightful pass, only for the striker to be denied by a strong Khamis save and the offside flag.
Crummer, keen to make up for lost time after making a successful come back from injury last week against Adelaide, was only a studs length away from reaching Yanez’s teasing first-time cross moments later.
Sydney thought they had opened the scoring in the 34th minute when Nicola Bolger neatly back heeled Teresa Polias’ cross past Lydia Williams, but the strike was chalked off for offside as both sides entered the break level.
Williams had to be alert to smother the ball at the feet of Remy Siemesen after the restart, but was powerless to prevent Foord from opening the scoring in the 67th minute.
After charging on to a loose ball on the halfway mark, Foord surged into the penalty box, beating two City defenders before sweeping home with her left foot to break the deadlock.
The lead was short-lived, however, as Fishlock put City back on level terms only eight minutes later.
It was a superb cross from captain Steph Catley which laid the ball on a silver platter for Fishlock, who was on hand to nod home past Khamis to level the scores.
The game kicked into overdrive as Siemesen saw another strike for the hosts ruled out for offside, while Yanez was only a whisker away from latching onto a defence splitting pass from Fishlock.
Fishlock had a golden chance to pinch all three points for City only three minutes from time, but her powerful effort curled just wide of the upright as both sides earned a share of the spoils.
Westfield W-League – Round 11
Sunday, 8 January 2017
Sydney FC 1 (Caitlin FOORD 66’)
Melbourne City FC 1 (Jess FISHLOCK 75’)
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Melbourne City FC: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 3. Lauren BARNES, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Steph CATLEY (C), 9. Larissa CRUMMER (17. Marianna TABAIN 80’), 10. Jess FISHLOCK, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 15. Amy JACKSON, 16. Beverly GOEBEL (14.Melina AYRES 90’), 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC (11. Erika TYMRAK 46’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Emily SHIELDS (GK)
Yellow cards: Yanez 17’
Red cards: nil
Sydney FC: 1.Shamiran KHAMIS (GK), 2. Teresa POLIAS, 3. Remy SIEMESEN, 4. Elizabeth RALSTON, 6. Servet UZUNIAR, 7. Nicola BOLGER (12. Olivia PRICE 80’), 9. Caitlin FOORD, 10. Francisca ORDEGA (20. Princess IBINI-ISEI 74’), 13. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Leena KHAMIS
Substitutes not used: 15. Sarah EASTHOPE, 11. Natalie TOBIN, 12. Olivia PRICE, 20. Princess Ibini-Isei
Yellow cards: Polias 37’, Simon 44’, Ordega 60’
Red cards: nil