Hana Lowry: Living the dream and developing further

In this week’s Midweek Dub, Perth Glory star Hana Lowry speaks exclusively to Ben Gilby about her experiences with the Young Matildas at the U20 World Cup, and the A-League Women campaign (31/3/23).

Above: Hana Lowry scoring for Perth Glory against Western United. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Hana Lowry has long been seen as one of the best young players in Australia. Another impressive A-League Women campaign with her hometown club Perth Glory followed memories of a lifetime representing her country at last year’s U20 World Cup.

Before going to Costa Rica with the national team, Lowry spent a second NPLW season in New South Wales to further challenge herself both personally and from a footballing perspective. It was an environment that the Western Australian feels really benefited her.

“I stayed with the same host family again, as well as Sally (James) and Leticia (McKenna) from Melbourne City (who Lowry played with at Perth Glory in the past). The program is very professional and intense, and it helped me a lot not only for the tournaments with the Young Matildas but also for this upcoming A-League season.

“Although I didn’t play too many NPLW games due to travel, I really enjoyed my time at the Spartans, they created a great environment, and the games were at a really high level.”

Lowry’s selection for the Young Matildas squad for the U20 World Cup in Costa Rica gave her experiences that will stay with the youngster for life.

Above: Hana Lowry speaking to the media during the U20 World Cup last August. Image: Football Australia.

“I really enjoyed Costa Rica, it has always been my dream to play at a “World Cup since I was a kid and to be given that opportunity at a youth level was something that I will always cherish.

“For me, the best part was just being a part of such a big occasion. It’s a huge honour to wear the jersey, and I was so grateful I was able to do so in front of my family who have supported me so much. The most challenging part was probably the end of it all, it was a massive year for us, and there was a lot of preparation that went into it, so I think when it ended we were quite emotional it was all over but so grateful we were able to experience it. 

“We had a great team environment, and all the girls got on so well which helped us on the pitch. It was amazing to get exposure to playing teams with different playing styles, as well as being exposed to playing multiple games in a short space and playing in front of a big crowd, particularly against Costa Rica. Off the pitch, we were able to see a bit of Costa Rica, as well as Mexico where our pre-camp was, my family also came over to watch, so it was great to see them after being away from home for six months.”

It was a tough environment and one that involved challenges in terms of playing three international matches back-to-back against some of the world’s best sides in Spain and Brazil, plus host nation Costa Rica. Despite this, Lowry feels that the squad received the right type of preparations from the Young Matildas coaching staff ahead of the competition.

“It was definitely a big step up, but something that we had prepared for throughout the year. Going into the tournament, we knew we had a tough group and knew that we had to bring intensity into the games. It was great to get the exposure of playing against different teams, teams that previous age groups haven’t been exposed to.

Above: Hana Lowry with her Young Matildas team mates. Photo: Instagram.

“Although we didn’t get the results and therefore didn’t progress through our group, we were able to match it with Spain, the eventual winners of the tournament, as well as Brazil who came third. I think it taught us that we can compete against these kinds of teams, even though we hadn’t been exposed to them previously. 

With the U20 World Cup and NPLW campaigns over, Lowry returned to her hometown club Perth Glory for the A-League Women season. After narrowly missing out on Finals football in the previous campaign and keeping the vast majority of the squad together, big things were expected from the club this season. It took a while for the side to achieve the wins, as the Perth star recognised.

“I think looking back at the start of the season, there were definitely games we should have been more clinical in, games where we should have gotten three points but drew, or games where we lost but could have gotten something from. We knew that we could do better, and I think that was a positive for us. We weren’t performing at our best, and so we knew that if we were at our best, the results would start coming.”

Glory also suffered the massive setback of then top scorer Rylee Baisden suffering an ACL injury – something that put their season at a major crossroads. Subsequently, the reaction to the loss of their top scorer showed huge resilience.

“As a team, we have definitely become used to having setbacks and having to show resilience when everything is against us,” Lowry said. “Rylee’s injury was definitely a massive setback for us, not just her energy and talent on the pitch, but also her character off the pitch.

Above: Hana Lowry with her Perth Glory captain Tash Rigby. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

“Players have definitely stepped up, both performing on the pitch, but also in their character and leadership off the pitch. I think Sofia (Sakalis) has been doing unbelievably well this season, she is a very special player and her dribbling and ability to create chances is something that has really benefitted us this year.

“Other players like Alana (Jancevski), Susan (Phonsongkham), and Hannah (Blake) have also helped us massively, they have won us games when we needed points and always bring the energy we need in games.”

Asked as to the elements that were crucial in the club’s unbeaten run through January and February that put Perth in Finals contention, the 19-year-old said: “I think as the season has progressed, we have improved on putting in 90-minute performances, where we don’t lose concentration in small moments, and I think we have improved on creating more chances and being more clinical.”

Perth’s unbeaten run came to an end at struggling Adelaide United. This combined with a tough schedule to the end of the season that saw only one home game and a spell of three games in three different states in six days has tested the Western Australians to the limit.

“I think as a group we have always done well when put in difficult situations, and for the remainder of the season having multiple games in a short space is definitely going to be challenging, but something we will embrace and give everything to give us the best chance of making Finals. We will need to be at our best each game, will need to recover well, and stay mentally in a good place.”

Above: Hana Lowry captured in a typical attacking moment against Newcastle Jets. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

As the season moves ever closer to its climax, Lowry reflected on her personal development in the A-League Women.

“I think I have developed well this season. This is my fourth season now with Glory, so even though I’m still quite young, I wanted to use my experience from previous seasons and what I’ve learned, to have a bigger impact on the team and results.

“I think physically I’m improving and understanding my role tactically better, but I definitely feel like there is so much more for me to learn and improve on, and I want to keep working towards scoring more goals and performing better under game pressure.”

Once her duties with her hometown club are over for another season, Lowry confirmed she is heading back to the east coast for the NPLW campaign.

“I will be heading back over to Sydney after the season, I haven’t thought about NPL and clubs too much as my focus at the moment is with Glory, and finishing the season as best as we can.”

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

A-League Women Friday Media Conferences

Ahead of the final round of the regular season, Ben Gilby reports on today’s media conferences featuring the head coaches of Melbourne City, Perth Glory, and Western United (31/3/23).

Melbourne City:

Above: Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic is confident of success in his team’s huge game with Canberra United this weekend. Image: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic believes that as long as his team maintains a belief in their ability, everything else will fall into place in their huge game with Canberra United on Sunday.

Vidosic outlined to the media today that when things don’t go City’s way, his team need to find a way to react positively. Looking back at their 4-3 defeat at Perth Glory last weekend after his side dominated the first half, the Sky Blues boss said: “It was the story of the season so far for us. It is belief. When we believed, we played, and limited them, in the first half, before they had any chances. It all (the Perth comeback) came from us.

“We gave away the first corner, we played back into the pressure. Second goal, we had shorter pressure and a great finish from (Hannah) Blake. Similar to the derby against Western United, we had all the chances, but were on the wrong end of the result. We need to put in 90-minute performances. There will always be swings in a game, it’s about how we respond to it.”

Vidosic is confident that his team can both contain and dominate Canberra United on Sunday and just has to remind his players of the events when the sides met earlier in the season at McKellar Park.

“We know their quality, we’ve seen their quality. But we can take belief. We went to Canberra and won 4-0. Michelle (Heyman) played that day, they (Canberra’s star players) all played. All their best players were on the pitch, but we controlled it well. They will create something, but we will try our best to limit their danger.

“If we play in their half and we force them back, we try to control the transitions. Everyone plays transitionary football against us. Canberra happen to be one of the most dangerous in transitions. It’s just about ‘can you score, and can you protect your box?’ “

One of the main messages that the City boss has been sharing with his squad ahead of the vital match is to embrace the occasion and flourish in front of their home fans to qualify for the Finals.

“We’ll try not to let the occasion get to us, we are at home, we have that advantage, so there’s nothing to be afraid of or to feel any sort of pressure. We’re going into the stadium to do what we love. It’s a great day, a doubleheader (with the men), so we’ll have all the City family there. The girls will be ready.”

Reflecting on his first season in charge of the team, Vidosic said: “We play a really, really good style. They (the players) have trained phenomenal and for my first season as a head coach, it’s been great. I have nothing but positive things to say. We’ve all learned a lot this season. I’ve learned different things to say and do, and how to nullify danger.”

Perth Glory:

Above: Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis

Ahead of their last match of the home and away season, Perth Glory head coach Alex Epakis wants his side to put in a performance to be proud of regardless of whether they qualify for the Finals.

“We want to make sure the performance reflects the group and what we’ve put on this year. We want to put on a Grand Final performance the best as we can, as it could be our last one.”

Perth Glory go into the game having played three matches in locations far and wide – New Zealand, Perth, and Sydney, in the space of 11 days and now add Brisbane to their itinerary. It’s been a nightmare schedule for the team from Western Australia.

“There are a few sore bodies and a bit of fatigue in the group as we expected. Every player was never going to play every minute of these (three) games (in six days). We just have to see what the squad will look like. We have the depth to manage it.”

Saturday’s opponents Brisbane Roar go into the encounter on a run of six games without a win – but Garrath McPherson’s side have put in some good performances against the competition’s top sides this season.

Reflecting on the Queenslanders, Epakis said: “There will be a different stimulus for them. They will want to finish the season on a high if they can. We still have everything to play for. We’re not too focused on them, we’re focused on putting on a performance that wins the game.”

Perth’s Finals hopes now rest on teams above them failing to win this weekend after Epakis’ side went down to a 4-2 loss at Sydney FC on Wednesday after the league leaders scored two goals in the final 15 minutes.

“I was really proud of a spirited performance from the group. I could see the players digging extremely deep to compete. You come up against a class team like we did, you really have to go above and beyond and that was there for everyone to see. From player one to 16, they did their job and gave us a chance. I was a proud coach who admired what the team did and we just fell a bit short, unfortunately.

Western United:

Above: Western United boss Mark Torcaso speaking today. Image: Western United.

Western United head coach Mark Torcaso identified today the influence that Matildas star Chloe Logarzo’s return has had on his squad ahead of their maiden Finals campaign.

“The last couple of days, she has literally walked straight back into the changing room and you can feel the difference already in having a person of her quality and presence. She will be vital to us in the Finals series. Hopefully, we can get her back on the pitch. We believe she has the x-factor that can help us win games.”

Whilst Western United’s spot in the Finals is already assured, Torcaso wants to see his team go into the post-regular season action on a high, after a disappointing run of results over the last month or so.

“It’s about getting momentum. Making sure that we have the right mentality and the right attitude going into a Finals series. We’re focusing on getting three points and then adjusting the focus for Finals on Monday.

“The mentality has changed over the past few weeks. We have players that are now fighting for a spot in the Finals team. It’s been really competitive at training. Sometimes it gets a bit firey which is good! Training has gone really good. It has been for the last few weeks, it’s just been on the pitch that it hasn’t quite gone our way.”

Reflecting on his team’s sensational first season in the competition, the Western United boss believes the success has come down to the careful and long-term planning that was put in place ahead of this season.

“I believe in our playing group and our club in making sure we were competitive. It all came together. We’re also still playing for the Premier’s Plate as well, so you never know what will happen in Sydney against Newcastle – we focus on Western Sydney.”

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Ella Kew: Making an impression at the start of her senior career

Impetus sponsored Ella Kew, aged 16, has just started her senior football career with tier seven Derbyshire Ladies League Division One side Pride Park. Ella spoke to Ben Gilby about her embryonic footballing career and her aims for the future (30/3/23).

Above: Ella Kew (blue shirt) in possession for Pride Park this season. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

Ella Kew joined tier seven Derbyshire County League side Pride Park at the start of this season on a dual registration with Duffield Dynamos U18. The attacking midfielder is the youngest member of the Pride Park squad but is already making an impression in her first season in open-age football. 

Ella’s journey into senior football at such a young age started back in primary school and the formation of a girls’ team in a nearby village. The Pride Park youngster takes up the story.

“When I was younger, I used to play football with my brother quite a lot because he has always played. I wanted to find a sport to play in primary school and I heard about a new girls’ football team starting at under-nine age group in the local village and I decided to give it a go.

“That was Duffield Dynamos and I have played there ever since now playing at under-18 level, and I’m into my fourth or fifth season as captain too. I’ve played for lots of different teams as well as I have played for two clubs for the majority of my footballing journey.

“Most recently before Pride Park, I played for Mansfield Town and Heanor Town. This season I decided I wanted to play open-age football and I heard about Pride Park being a good division one team to join so I thought I’d give it a go and now I am into my first season at open age.”

Ella, who describes herself as a “creative player” who likes “to play as an attacking midfielder…hold(ing) the ball up and look to make forward passes for the strikers,”  believes those early experiences playing the sport with her brother, and his continual support of her development have been key.

Above: Ella Kew in action during an away match for Pride Park this season. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

“My brother Jack has definitely helped me develop as a player as when I was younger he always played football with me in the garden and taught me new skills. Also, he now coaches Duffield Dynamos which is helping me to develop too. Dave, Jamie, and Ross at Pride Park are also helping me to develop as a player due to the great coaching before during, and after games at the club.”

Ella feels that Pride Park was a great choice for her to start her senior career due to the nature of the setup and their facilities. “Pride Park have a great selection of girls’ and ladies’ teams and it is very encouraging to see young girls get involved in football.

“The facilities playing for Pride Park are excellent, with Moorways being the best grassroots pitch I’ve played at. There are always opportunities to get involved too, it’s an inclusive and friendly club to be a part of.

“There has recently been significant investment in the team by recording matches to help with coaching. It means that as a grassroots club, we are using similar technology and match analysis tools to professional clubs.

“It’s great for the coaches and players to be able to watch things back and have a chance to analyse games – what went well, what didn’t go so well, to try to learn from that and take it into the next game – it helps us all develop as players. It also means we can produce highlights clips which adds an extra level of interest and helps raise the club’s profile when interest in women’s football has never been higher.” 

Playing senior football at such a young age comes with several challenges, but Ella is aware of the differences and what she needs to do in order to continue her rapid progress in the sport.

“Being 16 playing first-team football, one thing I have found difficult is adapting to the style of play compared to girls’ football as it is much more composed and technical. This is something that I have just gotten used to the more I play. Also, there have been occasions when I think that I’ve not been strong enough to play women’s football, and to overcome that I just need to work on my physicality when playing.

Above: Ella Kew composed in possession this season. Photo: Shaun Hardwick.

“At times it can be difficult going to school whilst playing football as it’s hard to maintain a balance, however, football is something that is fun for me not something that I have to push myself to do so it isn’t as difficult as it sounds because of my love for the game.”

Ella highlighted the realities of playing tier-seven football from a financial perspective and the benefits that her sponsorship by Impetus has given.

“As players, we pay monthly subscriptions but the club tries to keep these as low as possible to avoid barriers to participation – as a full-time student still at school that’s something I particularly appreciate.

“However, subscriptions only really cover the team’s day-to-day costs, so sponsorship like this from Impetus enables us to continue to make this investment and to help us develop as players. It wouldn’t be possible otherwise, and I really appreciate your support.”

With the current season entering the home straight, Ella still has a few targets that she wants to meet. “I would like to keep playing competitively and hopefully battle for the top of the league with Pride Park as I believe it is more than in reach. I’d also like to continue being coached and continue gaining confidence playing open-age football and hopefully, next season start off how I’m hoping to finish this one.” 

Looking further ahead, Ella has made herself a promise: “I just want to continue playing and loving football. You know, so many people quit playing when they go off to uni and get a job when they just don’t have time anymore and I want to make it my promise to myself that I’ll keep going and progressing as far as I can moving into women’s football. Also thank you for Impetus for the sponsorship this season, it’s really encouraging to receive and drives me to keep playing the best that I can.”

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

Grainger announces Cymru squad and new assistant coach

by Martin Townley (30/3/23)

Above: Cymru head coach Gemma Grainger, who announced her latest squad yesterday. Photo: FAW.

Cymru manager Gemma Grainger yesterday announced her squad for upcoming friendlies against Northern Ireland and Portugal.

Grainger has named 26 players for the two games as Cymru look to build on an unbeaten Pinatar Cup campaign.

Returning to the squad for this camp are Bristol City’s Ffion Morgan and Manchester United’s Chloe Williams, who is currently on loan at Blackburn Rovers. Coventry United’s Ellen Jones (on loan from Leicester City) is named in the squad and will be hoping to win her first cap for Cymru.

Star names like Jess Fishlock and Chelsea’s Sophie Ingle along with Gemma Evans and Angharad James all make the squad. The biggest name missing is forward Kayleigh Green who misses though injury.

Cymru will face Northern Ireland on Thursday 6th April at Cardiff City Stadium before travelling to face Portugal on Tuesday 11th April.

Cymru squad for the April international window matches against Northern Ireland and Portugal:

Laura O’SULLIVAN (Cardiff City Ladies), Olivia CLARK (Bristol City), Safia MIDDLETON-PATEL (Manchester United), Rhiannon ROBERTS (Liverpool), Charlie ESTCOURT (Birmingham City), Hayley LADD (Manchester United), Josie GREEN (Leicester City), Gemma EVANS (Reading), Lily WOODHAM (Reading), Esther MORGAN (Sunderland – on loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Sophie INGLE (Chelsea), Anna FILBEY (Crystal Palace), Angharad JAMES (Tottenham Hotspur), Jess FISHLOCK (OL Reign), Ceri HOLLAND (Liverpool), Megan WYNNE (Southampton), Hannah CAIN (Leicester City), Ffion MORGAN (Bristol City), Elise HUGHES (Crystal Palace), Georgia WALTERS (Sheffield United), Carrie JONES (Leicester City), Ella POWELL (Bristol City), Rachel ROWE (Reading), Chloe WILLIAMS (Blackburn Rovers – on loan from Manchester United), Alice GRIFFITHS (Southampton), Ellen JONES (Coventry United – on loan from Leicester City).

Above: Jon Grey, Cymru’s new assistant coach. Photo supplied to Impetus by: FAW.

Gemma Grainger has appointed Jon Grey to her coaching staff ahead of matches against Northern Ireland and Portugal.

Grey joins the FAW after working at Swansea City, most recently as the U21 Head Coach and Academy Manager. Grey also represented Cymru as a player in the age group systems and has also been involved with the FAW in a part-time coaching capacity in recent years.

The role as Assistant Coach for the senior women’s team has been confirmed on a full-time basis after Grey was part of Gemma Grainger’s coaching staff for last month’s Pinatar Cup.

Speaking about the appointment, Grey said: “I’m delighted and excited to be joining the FAW at such a positive time for Welsh football. I spoke with Gemma about how we can work together, and within five minutes I knew I wanted to get involved. The matches next week will be great preparations for the Nations League, we know we have some big games coming up once the draw is made, and we have to be ready for them.”

Gemma Grainger also expressed her delight at the appointment “I wanted a Welsh coach with a ProLicence, and Jon was great in the environment when he was with us last month. It’s the first time we have a full-time assistant coach just for the senior team, Jon’s a great fit for the role and I can’t wait to work with him in the upcoming matches.”

A-League Women Media Conferences

Ben Gilby, Denise Duffy, and Ryan Miller-Woods combine three of this week’s media conferences ahead of the final round of the home and away season (30/3/23).

Canberra United:

by Ryan Miller-Woods

Above: Laura Hughes speaking to the media ahead of her team’s vital game against Melbourne City. Image: Canberra United.

Ahead of their crucial final match of the regular season against Melbourne City on Sunday which the capital city side need to win to qualify for the Finals, Laura Hughes reflected on how the squad have been revelling in the pressure rather than feeling challenged by it.

“I guess whoever turns up on the day best prepared can win so I think you never know what can happen. These are the games for why we love football, these high-pressure moments and one game can create something. We’re very focused on Sunday (against Melbourne City).”

Canberra United and Melbourne City will go into their match with the advantage of knowing the result from Melbourne Victory’s game at Wellington Phoenix before their match on Sunday. For Hughes though, this is just another case of focusing on themselves rather than anyone else.

“I think especially the last few weeks, it’s about controlling what we can control, other results we can’t really focus on that. All we have to do is prepare (the) best for Melbourne City on Sunday.

“Three points there will either get us into Finals or we’ll finish the season on a high, so I think either way not depending on any results we want to beat Melbourne City especially because they beat us earlier in the season, we want redemption like we did against Western United. So I think we want to stay focused on that because we can’t control the results.”

Above: A positive Michelle Heyman ahead of Canberra United’s game with Melbourne City on Sunday. Image: Canberra United.

Canberra United’s 3-0 win at Western United last Saturday served to highlight just how far the side have come over the last month or so. The last time the teams met, the capital city side went down to a 5-0 defeat. Since that period, it’s been onwards and upwards as Michelle Heyman reflected with the media this week.

“It’s incredible! The girls have definitely shown what we (as a side) can do, we’ve dug deep in tough times when we needed to do that but we just have that belief we knew walking into that game (against Western United) we were going to win because we knew we had to win.

“I feel like we do really well under pressure, so coming into this weekend’s game, it’s going to be the exact same feeling, especially losing to them 4-0, I think deep down we all know that it hurt us and I think that gives us more fire in the belly to come out throwing punches, we’re ready to come out there and give it our all and to the last whistle just keep putting everything out there.”

The A-League Women’s record appearance holder and record scorer also belives that her side have thrived in the pressure of having their season on the line almost every week since those two consecutive 5-0 defeats.

“I definitely think so. I feel like pressure makes everyone step up and I think if collective as a whole team that we can do that on the weekend then it’s our game. I know we all respect each other and we all have each other’s back, we always work hard for each other and that’s something we’ve brought into after we lost those two games (against Wellington Phoenix and Western United in Round 11 and Round 12).

“We had to sit down and do some soul-searching and we really wanted to figure out what it was that made us go so low. The one thing that we came to together as a collective and we were like well if we work harder for each other then nothing can really stop us because we know we have the talent, we know we can score goals, we’ve got everything that we need.”

Melbourne Victory:

by Ben Gilby

Above: Melbourne Victory boss Jeff Hopkins is encouraging his side to get the result they need in Wellington to clinch a Finals spot once more. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins has increased player availability for his team’s crunch trip to New Zealand to face Wellington Phoenix in a game that his side dare not lose.

The return of Gema Simon and Lia Privitelli comes at a hugely important time as Hopkins admits that the Victory have found it difficult to put the right selection together in recent weeks.

“We’ve been pushing hard to find the right balance and right line-up since ‘Chids’ (Alex Chidiac) has left, and we’re getting there.

“It’s been hard to put out the team we’ve wanted to each week as we’ve had one or two niggly injuries that we’ve had to manage. In the front third, the quality of our runs and final pass hasn’t quite been right. I’m still looking to find that right balance and combination of players to really click.”

Hopkins reflected on how pleased he was to be welcoming Simon back into the fold after over three months on the sidelines. It’s been a real hard one. A real slog for Gema. For a professional player, she just wants to play. She’s had a lot of niggly knock-backs which have stopped her. Lia (Privitelli) is back as well after not quite being ready last week.

The trip to Wellington is the last of Melbourne Victory’s ‘must not lose’ matches, and Hopkins admitted: “Nothing’s really changed over the last few games really. There’s a lot of pressure on us and other teams. This is the last chance. We know what we’ve got to do – go over there and win the game.

“The players knew the last four weeks were going to be like Finals. I’ve tried to keep a focus on us doing what we have to do. It’s more around the process. If we get the process right, the outcome looks after itself.

Ahead of their first-ever trip to New Zealand to face a Nix side who need to win to have any chance of avoiding the wooden spoon, the Victory head coach revealed the squad have been mixing up their preparations.

“This week we have had a very relaxed week. We’ve done things a bit differently. Hopefully, that change in how we’ve approached the game might get a little change in mentality that might spark us in the game.”

Whilst Wellington Phoenix go into the game bottom of the table, their recent performance levels are far from matching that status. Hopkins has made sure his team are fully aware of the potential perils that could await them at Sky Stadium, with Canberra United, and possibly Perth Glory able to pounce if there is a slip up.

“We have a lot of respect for the (Phoenix) team. They press very high, they play with a real intensity and they press with high intensity. The danger when you are playing out is that you lose the ball and they can attack. We get it wrong, and they are more than capable of playing through our press. They have some very good individual players who can hurt you on the day.

“It’s a big motivating factor for them that they don’t want to finish bottom. The results they’ve had and the performance against Adelaide the other night (a 3-1 win) will give them encouragement. Yet we’re a very good side. and we are confident in our ability to bring a performance that can bring a win. We’re playing in a great stadium, on a great surface that will suit us.”

Wellington Phoenix:

Above: Betsy Hassett speaking to the media earlier today. Image: Wellington Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix’s Betsy Hassett and Milly Clegg are both feeling loose and confident about their chances ahead their final game of the season at home to defending champions Melbourne Victory.

Coming off their midweek win at Adelaide United, The Phoenix are looking to end the season strong against a Victory team who will need a result to make Finals.

Betsy Hassett told the media today that her side are more than ready for the task ahead as they aim to clinch the win that could take them off the bottom of the final ladder. “We’re excited to take on Melbourne Victory this weekend. They’re a tough team, but we’re ready for the challenge. We’ve been working hard in training and we feel like we’re in good form right now.”

Hassett also talked about the importance of concentration throughout the match: “It’s crucial that we stay focused for the entire 90 minutes. Melbourne Victory is a team that can punish you if you switch off for even a moment. So, we’ll need to be alert and focused from start to finish.”

Above: Milly Clegg reflecting on a big week in her embroynic footballing career. Image: Wellington Phoenix.

Milly Clegg, the young starlet who has just received a call-up for the New Zealand national side echoed Hassett’s sentiments: “Melbourne Victory is a strong team, but we’re feeling confident. We know what we need to do on the pitch, and we’ll be giving it our all out there.”

Clegg also emphasized the importance of team unity: “We’ve got a great team dynamic right now, and that’s going to be key in this match. We need to work together as a unit, communicate well on the pitch, and support each other throughout the game.”

Their matchup against Melbourne Victory has Finals implications for Melbourne City, Canberra United, and Perth Glory. This, including Wellington’s own need for a win sees the Sky Stadium clash as a monumental one to end the campaign.

However, once the final whistle goes on the A-League Women season, Hassett and Clegg will not be able to put their feet up. The next morning after the match sees the pair flying to Turkey as two of five Wellington Phoenix players who will be joining the Football Ferns squad for their upcoming fixtures against Iceland and Nigeria.

Clegg is thrilled about the prospect of her first tour with the senior team. “I want to go out there and try my hardest to do my best and put my best foot forward. I’m really excited to be involved in it. So hopefully, I can learn off the other more experienced players and just kind of get a grasp on what the environment is like.”

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Sydney FC v Perth Glory Photo Gallery

Kris Goman was pitchside at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Wednesday night to capture the action as Sydney FC hosted Perth Glory (30/3/23).

Above: Perth Glory’s Alana Jancevski celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Sydney FC on Wednesday night. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Sydney FC 4-2 Perth Glory

To read Kieran Yap’s report of the match, click on this link: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/03/29/sydney-fc-and-wellington-both-have-big-wins-with-different-implications/

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Izzy Foletta: “Feeling comfortable” with her game back home at Perth

The return of locally produced star Izzy Foletta to Perth Glory during this season provided a big boost to the club. With the A-League Women season approaching its climax, Izzy spoke exclusively to Ben Gilby about her footballing journey and her superb form at the club since re-joining.

Above: Izzy Foletta in possession for Perth Glory against Western Sydney Wanderers this season. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

Izzy Foletta has been one of the most impressive members of the Perth Glory squad this season, after arriving back at the club mid-campaign. Her performances and link-up play helped to reignite her local side’s bid for Finals football.

Coming into the new A-League Women campaign, Foletta was without a contract, and she takes up the story as to how she returned to the club. “I decided to head home to be with my family after my NPL NSW season had ended and I had no A-League contract.

“I contacted Alex (Epakis, Perth Glory head coach) just before I came back as we had spoken a few times throughout the year regarding this season to let him know I will be heading back to Perth. He invited me to come down to the team’s pre–season sessions and be around the team. After a few weeks and a couple of discussions, he rang me with some amazing news which was a contract.”

Above: Izzy Foletta looks to challenge Brisbane Roar’s Shea Connors. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

That phone call brought Foletta’s footballing journey back full circle to the place she calls home. “I started playing football with my local club Stirling Panthers at the age of five. I only started because I could not sit still whilst watching my brother play so my parents decided to get me involved as soon as I was old enough!”

“I played there for a few years then moved to Balcatta SC, I played with the boys most of my youth career. I then joined the Football West HPC program which rolled into state teams which I started being involved in at the age of 12 and then into the NTC program which I was there until I was about 17 years old.

“In my last year at NTC, I got invited to train with the Perth Glory squad and that is how I got my A-League scholarship contract and then received a full contract following that. I then moved to Sydney for the NPL season during the A-League off-season. After two years of playing my off-seasons in Sydney, I got contracted by Canberra United and played there for a season.

“During the peak of COVID when most leagues had stopped in Australia, I headed to Italy to play for Lazio and then returned to play for Brisbane Roar.  Following my season with Roar, I returned to Sydney to play NPL before returning to Perth ahead of this A-League Women season.”

Foletta was part of the Canberra United squad that played Finals football in 2020/21 – it was a period that she looks back fondly upon. “Life in Canberra was amazing. I was a little hesitant to live in Canberra at the start but ended up loving it.

Above: Izzy Foletta looks to create against Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

“The team at Canberra that year were great. Everyone played for everyone and left nothing out on the park each and every game which definitely got us to the Finals. I also learned a lot, both as a footballer and a person under the coach, Vicki Linton. The fans at Canberra United absolutely loved it and they really helped create a fortress at Viking Park similar to (Perth Glory’s) Macedonia Park.”

The defender’s period in Italy was eye-opening, in a league that Foletta believes is at a comparable standard to the A-League Women. “On and off the field, Italy was an amazing experience. I learned so much both as a footballer and as a person.

“It was a similar setup in regards to professionalism to Australia. The standard of the league was varied, obviously, your top teams like Juventus and Inter Milan were amazing, but the other teams still were up there also. To compare it with the A-League Women I think it’s obviously a different style of football but I do think the A-League is definitely catching up to the European leagues.”

After experiencing a challenging start to the campaign, Foletta found her feet back at her hometown club and was part of a team that went on a six-game unbeaten run to renew their challenge for Finals football. The defender has been in outstanding form, something she believes head coach Alex Epakis deserves some credit for.

“As a player under Alex, I feel like he has helped me feel comfortable with my game and overall feel comfortable and confident playing in the A-League. He also allows me to explore the freedom in my position to play a lot higher up the park which I love.” 

Above: Izzy Foletta celebrates her goal for Perth Glory against Newcastle Jets. Photo: Tom McCarthy.

That atmosphere of confidence in players’ abilities and a supportive ethos is one that Foletta believes has played a significant part in the club’s run of results since the turn of the year.

“Every single player in the squad is putting 110% in every training session and game, not just for themselves but for the team. What we have in this team is unstoppable when we put it all out on the park and that is what we are trying to do every game.”

Perth Glory are now in the midst of their last three games of the season which sees all those matches played in different states within a six-day period. Foletta outlined what that sort of schedule is like for the squad.

“Unfortunately that’s football sometimes. Personally, managing the tight schedule of games with travel, you just have to ensure you are recovering after every session and game the best you can. The club really help us with our post-training and post-game recovery with massages, ice baths etc which really helps with a tight schedule.”

With Foletta heading back to the east coast to play her NPLW football once Perth Glory’s season is done, there will be many fans in WA hoping that she comes back home to pull on a purple shirt once more for 2023/24. Watch this space.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of on Her Side.

Box Hill are box office: NPLW Victoria Wrap Round Two

By Kieran Yap (29/3/23)

Above: Zoe Lambi (12) celebrates a goal for South Melbourne against FV Emerging. Image: Football Victoria

Despite some big scorelines, the Victorian NPLW was an enthralling as ever in Round Two. Two of last season’s top sides clashed when Heidelberg United faced Bulleen Lions, but there were some surprises elsewhere with Alamein facing Calder United, and one of the leagues newest clubs getting their first win.

Box Hill continued to flex their attacking strength against Southern United. Asuka Doi opened the scoring from a corner kick in the seventh minute. The ball was dropped onto her head with perfect delivery from Kanna Moriya and she was able to nod it in from almost point-blank range.

Box Hill’s lead doubled through an own goal, but it was the result of some excellent build-up play. Sienna Techera and Maxine Diblasi combined on the left to put Ciciliy Paraskevas into space on the right. Her cross was deflected into the net by the Southern United defender, but there was little they could do. It was sent in with pace and into a dangerous area.

Techera was at the heart of Box Hill’s third goal and best move of the game. Southern United were on the attack, and a quick clearance found Techera in midfield. The 17-year-old attacker cut inside and sent a long swift pass across field into the path of Anais Josefski.

Josfski has an ability to explode into space, and then finish while still speeding up. Southern United’s defenders and keeper had no chance of stopping her in full flight.

The score remained 3-0, and it was Box Hill’s first win of the season, but more importantly their second consecutive week of scoring three times. In Techera they might have one of the breakout stars of this season. She is young, so consistency may wane over 22 weeks, but she is talented and deadly with a pass or shot.

FV Emerging’s first hitout of 2022 was up against a rampant South Melbourne who were looking to put a tough draw in Round One behind them. The 6-1 scoreline was harsh on the NTC side, but this is a development squad and they traditionally take a few rounds to adjust to senior football.

They got off to an unfortunate start when Annabella Yates defected the ball into her own net. Janna Lawson added a second after a powerful, direct run into the box. She brushed off the challenged and fired home for her first of the night. Her brace was completed moment later with another strong finish in the 32nd minute.

Tayla Christensen continued her strong start to the season with a goal just four minutes later. Slick passing from South Melbourne put Danielle Wise in space at the edge of the box. The star signing turned and played in Christensen who raced in to score her second in as many games.

It was 5-0 before halftime when Caitlin Pickett got off the mark for 2023. The goal came out of nowhere when Pickett’s strike took everybody by surprise and snuck beyond the FV Emerging keeper.

Wise scored her first goal for South Melbourne. The attacker was dangerous throughout the game and was rewarded with a goal in the 60th minute to make it 6-0. The calm finish came at the end of a desperate clearance and South Melbourne were ruthless in their response.

FV Emerging scored a late consolation goal through striker Maia Marinkovic. The substitute attacked Ellie Vlaeminck’s cross at the back post and gave FV Emerging something to celebrate in the 91st minute.

6-1 is a hard scoreline to take, but it says more about South Melbourne than the youngsters from FV Emerging. South have invested heavily, recruited boldly, and have title ambitions. This will not the last big goal tally they post in 2023.

In one of the surprises of the round, Alamein defeated Calder United 4-2. Two goals each from Rebecca Daber and Savanna Anastasopoulos were enough to defeat the reigning champions. Calder scored from an own goal and Montana Mathews backed up her wonder goal from last week with another solo effort.

Saber’s opening goal was a thing of beauty. Alamein got the ball to her quickly, but with plenty still to do. She cut inside two challenges and kept her balance to score from close range.

Anastasopoulos scored the second through pace and persistence. It took three strikes to beat Lara El-Hayek but eventually the second of the afternoon went in.

Saber scrapped and fought for an opening to score her second. The eventual shot was powerful enough to beat El-Hayek from the edge of the box, but Calder United would be disappointed not to have cleared it when they had the opportunity.

Sidney Allen set up Anastasopoulos for her second and the match sealer in the second half. Allen drew the defenders toward her and then passed across the penalty box. Anastasopoulos finished low and hard.

Alamein just missed out on finals last season, and without Kat Smith at the helm, their start to the season was of great interest to neutrals and fans. New manager, Nunziato Maiorana has delivered some impressive performances so far with an encouraging draw in Round One, and an impressive win in Round Two.

In the heavyweight clash of the week, Heidelberg United hosted Bulleen Lions. The game ended 1-1 and both clubs are still in search of their first win, but most observers would have had trouble picking a winner before kick-off between two well-structured and coached sides.

Rosie Rodger backed up her impressive Round One performance with a goal in the 38th minute. Bulleen stalked and pressured the ball deep in Heidelberg’s defence, and closed down the space until they could literally force it in into the back of the net.

Heidelberg drew level before halftime. Some neat, fast paced interplay on the left flank ended up in the path of Kathryn Vlahopoulos who drilled the ball home emphatically.

The final game of the round saw newly promoted Boroondara-Carey Eagles defeat Bayside United 2-1. Kurea Okino opened the scoring for Booroondara from the penalty spot before Miwa Sasaki levelled the score for Bayside. Rebbeca Lim retook the lead for the home side with a 79th-minute goal.

After getting behind the Bayside defence, and beating the offside trap. She cruised into the area to finish easily and win the game. It was her second one on one with the goalkeeper for the afternoon and made no mistake when it mattered most.

After two rounds, the table is no clearer. South Melbourne sit on top, but no team has a perfect record. Boroondara Eagles have probably made the most encouraging start to the season. As one of the newer clubs to the league, they have drawn 2-2 with Bulleen, and beaten Bayside who looked very strong in Round One.

Next up, they face the free-scoring Box Hill side that had six goals in two games. If they can get a result from that match, it would be a fairy tale start to the season, The Eagles are a team to keep an eye on in the coming weeks, but Box Hill are currently box office.  

Table from: NPLW Victoria Gameday.

Sydney FC and Wellington both have big wins with different implications

Adelaide United 1-3 Wellington Phoenix

By Kieran Yap (29/3/23)

Above: Indiana Dos Santos becomes the fifth youngest scorer in league history. Photo: KeepUp.

Wellington Phoenix scored twice in the second half to beat Adelaide United 3-1. The Reds have endured a tough season, and the match against Wellington summed up much of their campaign.

It was not a bad performance by Adelaide, over the 90 minutes it was one of their best. But they were undone by the ball not falling their way when it mattered, and a masterclass by Millie Clegg.

Having played just days earlier, both sides made changes. Wellington made five to their starting lineup, while Adelaide welcomed back Ella Tonkin into defence.

The most decisive inclusion was 17-year-old playmaker Millie Clegg for the Phoenix. There have been growing calls to include her in the New Zealand World Cup squad and on Tuesday night she showed why.

Both teams started aggressively, but it was Wellington who opened the scoring, Clegg’s turn and shot on the edge of the area earned a corner kick. Chloe Knott rose highest to nod home Michaela Foster’s trademark delivery.

Adelaide hit back almost immediately. Emilia Murray had looked dangerous on the right flank early on, and the Young Matildas captain delivered a perfect cross from deep. Fiona Worts connected at the back post for her third and final goal of the season.

Adelaide continued to attack in the second half and probably controlled most of the play, but Wellington remained dangerous. Foster came close to retaking the lead with a vicious strike from long-range. The effort skimmed wide of Annalee Grove’s post.

Wellington’s second goal came from Clegg. Emma Main played a perfect pass beyond the Adelaide defence and Clegg sprinted clear. She rounded Grove calmly and finished into the empty net to make it 2-1.

Dylan Holmes came close with a stinging shot for Adelaide, and Maruschka Waldus almost scored from a header, but Wellington struck again.

Grace Wisnewski embarked on a surging run down the right. She cut inside and played the ball to Clegg who’s finish deflected off a defender and looped over Grove to seal the result.

The win will give Wellington a confidence boost heading into their final match with Melbourne Victory. With so many players pushing for a World Cup spot, they should not be taken lightly despite the lowly ladder position. There is still more than pride at stake for much of this young side.

Adelaide end the campaign in their worst position for three seasons. Although it would have been a frustrating one for the players, coach, and fans, it was not exactly a wasted year.

The Reds have seen steady progression over the past few campaigns and this year could be more of a bump in the road than a significant step backwards. They have unearthed some bright new talents like Murray, Sasha Coorey, and Katie Bowler.

Without Emily Condon for much of the season, they were missing one of their best players, and a fully fit Ella Tonkin would have made a big difference.

In a league with no relegation, risks can be taken, and when Adelaide assess this season, they should avoid panic. It was bad, but not a disaster.

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-3): Grove, I. Hodgson, Tonkin, Waldus, E. Hodgson, Holmes, Sasaki, Westland, Murray, Barbieri, Worts. Substitutes: McCormick, Bowler, Tolland, Coorey, Wilson

Scorer: Worts 21′.

WELLINGTON PHOENIX (4-3-3): Candy, Cicco, Barry, Taylor, Foster, Knott, Hassett, Wisnewski, Clegg, Lancaster, Pritchard. Substitutes: Vosper, walker, McMeeken, Edwards, Main.

Scorers: Knott 19’, Clegg, 75’, 90+6’.

Referee: Isabella Blaess.

Attendance: 694.

Sydney FC 4-2 Perth Glory

by Kieran Yap

Sydney FC now have one hand on the premiership after a dramatic 4-2 win over Perth Glory. The Wednesday night fixture was originally scheduled for Round 11, but when no ground could be located it was delayed until this week.

This was far from ideal for Perth Glory who had to travel across the country midweek, but made for a suitably dramatic game of football. The visitors had to win to keep a potential finals spot in their own hands. Sydney FC had to win in order to reclaim top spot with one game to play.

The home side were on the attack early on, their midfield and fullbacks swarmed Perth Glory’s and they created a series of great chances in the opening stages. Cortnee Vine was in unplayable form. The Matildas winger tormented the Perth defence who did very well to hold out as long as they did. Chances to Princess Ibini, Mackenzie Hawkesby and Vine all missed, but were warning signs for the visitors.

When the opening goal came, it was no surprise that Vine was the source. She cut outside of Isabella Foletta and cruised past Liz Anton. The cross flashed across goal and the ball touched back to 15-year-old Indiana Dos Santos. The youngster tucked away the ball with admirable composure to give her side the lead and become the fifth youngest scorer in A-League Women history.

Perth had spent the entire half performing desperate clearances and speculative long passes but were given a lifeline toward the end of the half. Hana Lowry was judged to have been fouled in the box by Sarah Hunter. She did not have possession and it was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect performance by Hunter, but Alana Jancevski was cool, and merciless from the penalty spot.

It looked like staying 1-1 at halftime, but Vine had other ideas. She received the ball on the wing, and upon looking up to see three defenders decided to cut through them all using a mix of pace, touch, and physicality. The finish across goal was as good as the build-up, it was a terrific solo effort.

Alex Epakis introduced Gabby Coleman and Cyera Hintzen at halftime, and Ella Mastrantonio throughout the half. All three made an impact, with Coleman scoring another equaliser for Glory.

Hannah Blake’s cross was slightly mis-hit but Jada Whyman struggled to deal with the high ball and Coleman bundled it home from point-blank range.

The pair almost combined again, when Coleman’s surging run for the right played in Blake, but Sarah Hunter was able to clear when a goal looked certain.

It would be Perth’s last real chance on goal. Madison Haley earned a controversial free kick in the 74th minute, but there was no confusion about the end product. Mackenzie Hawkesby’s free-kick caused havoc in the box, and Haley ghosted in at the far post to bury the strike past Morgan Aquino.

It gave Perth another mountain to climb with time ticking down. Perth became increasingly vulnerable on the counter-attack and  Princess Ibini made sure of the result late in the game with a cool finish for Sydney FC’s fourth.

The result means that Sydney FC only need one more win to capture their third consecutive premiership. It would be a massive achievement and they have played some terrific football to earn it. While much of the attention will rightfully go to the prodigious Dos Santos, Sarah Hunter, and Charlize Rule were both excellent in both defensive and attacking roles.

With Shay Hollman returning from national team duty, and to accommodate Dos Santos, Hunter has been shifted into the ‘six’ role and put in an excellent performance. She was calm in possession, disciplined without it, and may have made the clearance to change the course of the game.

It’s a tough outcome for Perth Glory. They require Melbourne Victory and Canberra United need to lose to potentially make the Finals, but even then it will come down to goal difference. The Western Australians face another away trip to the dangerous Brisbane Roar and it will be a tough task for the battle-weary side. But crazier things have happened this season, and they will not be losing hope yet.

Speaking after the game, Sydney FC head coach Ante Juric said: “We dominated the first half and our dominance showed in the second too. Viney is outstanding and has done it for three or four years, it’s no surprise to us, that’s her job out wide.  Today she had a particularly good game.”

Juric was also hugely proud of Indiana Dos Santos and believes she can be a star for years to come. “She’s excellent, when I first saw her a year ago she was playing in the 17’s and she is a gem of a talent and has developed well over the last couple of months and has taken her chance. She’s unbelievable for 15.”

Looking ahead to the club’s final game of the season at home to Newcastle Jets, Juric said: “We go out to win and next weekend the end result is the Premiership but we are focused on how we play and what we do, and the reward will be there if we get through.”

A thrilled Indiana Dos Santos reflected on her historic goal, saying: “It just meant the world, I just couldn’t believe it, I was going to start crying but I just had to focus on the game. “It shows all the hard work I’ve been putting in is finally paying off.”

Teams: SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Whyman, Rule, Tobin, de la Harpe, Green, Hunter, Hawkesby, Dos Santos, Vine, Lowe, Ibini. Substitutes: Fenton, Haley, Hollman, Stajcic.

Scorers: Dos Santos 25’, Vine 45’, Haley 70’ Ibini 89’.

PERTH GLORY: (4-2-3-1): Aquino, Rigby, Anton, Carroll, Foletta, Cain, Lawrence, Blake, Lowry, Sakalis, Jancevski. Substitutes: McKenna, Hintzen, Langman, Mastrantonio, Coleman.

Scorers: Jancevski (pen) 45’, Coleman 58’

Referee: Casey Reibelt.

Attendance: 414.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

Champions League Quarter-Finals

Emmanuel Faith looks back at last week’s first-leg action in the UEFA Women’s Champions League Quarter-Finals before previewing the second legs which begin tonight (29/3/23).

Above: Salma celebrates her goal for Barcelona against Roma. Photo: UEFA.

When four different matches end in a 1-0 scoreline, you can imagine the difficulty, intensity, and quality of the matches.

Whether it’s an almost one-sided match where one team attacked and the other side defended like Roma against Barcelona, or an evenly matched combat like Bayern Munich’s tie with Arsenal, what the first leg of the quarter-finals has shown the world is that any team is capable of pulling off a surprise.

Above: Bayern Munich celebrate Lea Schuller’s winning goal in their first leg against Arsenal. Photo: Bayern Munich Women.

The week started with a thriller between Bayern Munich and Arsenal. It was the North London side who created first with a cross by Caitlin Foord that landed perfectly for Stina Blakstenius in the tenth minute, the Swedish forward however couldn’t find the right connection and direction. It was Lea Schuller who had her sight on goal next but couldn’t hit the target from 40 yards out but she forced Arsenal goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger into a save just few minutes later before finally beating her and nodding a cross home in the 38th minute. Foord hit the post in the 50th minute and Saki Kumagai had to make an intervention to ensure Bayern ended the match with a one-goal advantage into the second leg.

Roma hosted Barcelona next and for a team that had 33 shots and 11 shots on target, it is a surprise that Barcelona couldn’t get beyond a one-goal lead, a testament to Roma’s resilience, and Camelio Caesar’s captivating abilities.

The Liga f champions who are on a 50-game unbeaten run domestically turned the heat from the first minute with Aitana Bonmati picking through passes and Caroline Graham Hansen causing trouble on the right side of Roma’s defence. It was however the Spanish youngster, Salma Paralluelo who got the breakthrough in the 34th minute.

The Roma goalkeeper made a lot of decent saves including an exceptional one to keep the Nigerian striker Asisat Oshoala from doubling Barca’s lead after a towering header however it was the Catalan side’s turn to defend in the 55th minute when Emili Haavi latched on a through pass to drive the ball into the box to lay a pass her strike partner Gianciti couldn’t convert the half chance thanks to Mapi Leon’s defending. Roma spent the rest of the evening keeping out Barcelona’s attacking stings to set up an exciting second leg.

Above: Sam Kerr fires in a shot for Chelsea at Olympique Lyonnais last week. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.

Olympique Lyonnais against Chelsea lived up to the expectations and it was the hosts who started on the strong foot as Eugenie Le Sommer missed the chance to give her team the lead in the eighth minute.

Lyon continued to boss the game with midfielders like Dzsenifer Maroszan, Sara Däbritz, and Lindsey Horan keeping Chelsea at bay, thus the home fans were stunned when the visitors took a surprise lead after typically hard work from Erin Cuthbert who won a 50-50 challenge and pass to lay off an assist for Guro Reiten. The Norwegian star latched on to the shot to give the team a slight advantage.

A few minutes after, the Lionesses whiz Lauren James hit the post after guiding the ball through Lyon’s defence. Both teams continued to create chances; from Sam Kerr who hit the side-netting twice to Selma Bacha who couldn’t capitalise on Magda Eriksson’s error as time ticked by.  Chelsea had the final say with Johanna Rytting Kaneryd having a half-chance to bury the game in the 88th minute however Christiane Endler’s brilliant save ensured there is all to play for in the second leg.

Kadidiatou Diani’s shot on target in the sixth minute was a great way to open the last quarter-final tie between Paris St. Germain and VfL Wolfsburg. The competition’s topscorer Ewa Pajor missed her chance to add to her tally after a goalkeeping error from PSG’s shot-stopper Sarah Bouhadi. Both teams huffed and puffed however there was a controversial call against the French side when a penalty wasn’t given for what seemed like a foul against Ashley Lawrence by Marina Hegering. However, things got worse for PSG when Wolfsburg were awarded a penalty and Élisa De Almeda was sent off after a second yellow card in the 61st minute. The Parisien hosts spent the rest of the match defending to give themselves hope of something to play for in the second leg.

Above: Orianne Jean-Francois takes a tumble against VfL Wolfsburg last week. Photo: Franck Fife.

Second Leg Previews

Given how intense the first legs were, predicting the return matches would be a daunting task for any analyst.

Barcelona would have a slight edge over Roma and will hope that they are more clinical with their conversion rate while relying on the experience of defenders like Lucy Bronze and Mapi Leon to shout out any surprise Roma might have in store.

Arsenal will fancy overturning a goal deficit in the second leg with attackers like Foord and Blacksteinus hoping for better luck this time around,  but Bayern is capable of scoring from anywhere, at any time of the match and a goal puts them in the driving seat that could extend the North London side’s record of falling at the quarter-final hurdle.

Lyon and Chelsea had opposite weekends. The French and European champions thumped Gueingamp, their domestic counterpart a 6-0 defeat while the WSL champions fell to two early goals from their rivals at Manchester City. Lyon finally has Ada Hegerberg back and will be relying on her to break through Chelsea’s defence who is now one rock less with Millie Bright doubtful. If there is any team that can bounce back from defeat, it’s Chelsea and if they score an early goal like they did last week, Lyon might be in for a long night.

PSG would be without De Almeda, a key part of their defence, but they would fancy their chances against Wolfsburg who rather underperformed in the first leg. Whoever scores the first goal will shift the momentum of this game.