Melbourne City FC have kept their top-four hopes alive with a 1-0 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers at ANZ Stadium on Monday afternoon.
Jess Fishlock’s late heroics secured all three-points for the away side following a dominant performance from Patrick Kisnorbo’s side.
The Welsh international made no mistake from close range, after meeting Kyah Simon’s superb cross from the right wing in the 92nd minute.
City’s win sets up a mouth-watering clash against the fourth-placed Perth Glory at AAMI Park on Saturday, 6 January.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo made one change to the starting XI that faced Brisbane Roar in Round 8, with Tyla-Jay Vlajnic replacing Rhali Dobson on the left wing.
England international Jodie Taylor was named on the bench for the first time this season, replacing Matildas forward Larissa Crummer.
In perfect conditions for football at ANZ Stadium it was City that controlled the first half an hour of play, with Patrick Kisnorbo’s side dominating possession but struggling to penetrate in the final third.
Fishlock, Kinga and Luik controlled the midfield despite the Wanderers tight press, but they were unable to pierce through the home side’s organised defence that was led by co-captain Ellie Brush.
City registered 14 balls into the area in the first-half with only one shot on target, reflecting Western Sydney’s ability to read the away side’s attacking play. Goalkeeper Jada Whyman was instrumental for the home side, cutting off most of City’s crosses.
Despite City’s dominance, it was Western Sydney’s Erica Halloway with the best of the first-half chances. The forward had three shots on goal in the final 10 minutes of the half, as she looked to be the most threatening forward on the pitch.
Following a fairly subdued first period, City came out of the blocks firing in the second-period with their intentions made very clear in their must-win encounter.
City opened the half with two successive chances in the opening four minutes falling to Kyah Simon and Jess Fishlock.
Simon’s fierce strike from just inside the box was tipped over the crossbar by Whyman, before Fishlock was ruled offside after she rounded the keeper and found the back of the net following a superb through ball by Kinga.
City continued to pile on the pressure, as Fishlock pulled the strings in the midfield. The inclusion of debutant and England international Jodie Taylor only added to the pressure that was mounting on the Wanderers defence, but the home side did well to weather the storm.
Fishlock’s pairing with Kinga in the midfield continued to blossom, as there appeared to be an immediate understanding between the Welsh star and debutant Taylor.
Rebekah Stott worked tirelessly on the left wing, making several attacking runs in an attempt to break the deadlock for Kisnorbo’s side.
Despite the frustration that came with dominating the contest but not the scoreboard, City continued to attack until the death and their hard work eventually paid off in the final minute of stoppage time.
Kinga picked up the ball on the edge of the area before playing it out to Simon on the left wing, the Matildas international then placed a perfectly weighted cross into Fishlock who made no mistake from close range between two Wanderers defenders.
Fishlock again proving to be the hero for City, and securing a vital three-points that puts Kisnorbo’s side into fifth place on the table – equal on points with the fourth placed Glory who they face next week.
Westfield W-League Round 9
Monday, 1 January 2018
Western Sydney Wanderers – 0
Melbourne City FC – 1
Venue: ANZ Stadium, Sydney
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, 11. Rhali DOBSON, 12. Jodie TAYLOR, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 14. Alanna KENNEDY, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC,
Substitutions not used: 15. Amy JACKSON, 23. Melissa HUDSON (GK)
Head Coach: Patrick KISNORBO
Western Sydney Wanderers FC Squad: 1. Jada WHYMAN (GK), 2. Marushchka WALDUS, 5. Kahlia HOGG, 6. Lo’eau LABONTA, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Erica HALLOWAY, 10. Lee FALKON, 11. Marlous PIEETE, 12. Rachel LOWE, 13. Olivia PRICE, 16. Alix ROBERTS, 19.Susan PHONSONGKHAM,
Substitutions not used: 9. Rosie SUTTON, 18. Alex HUYNH, 20. Trudy BURKE (GK)
Head Coach: Rich BYRNE