Melbourne City 0-4 Western Sydney Wanderers
By Kieran Yap
It was a round of W-League action packed with special moments and Melbourne City vs Western Sydney Wanderers had its fair share of highlights. A fast paced, sometimes scrappy but constantly entertaining game was the result when the two sides met at City’s new base at Frank Holohan reserve in Dandenong.
Melbourne were without Teagan Micah due to injury but she was replaced by the much accomplished veteran Melissa Barbieri who became the oldest W-League player in history at the age of 41, The Wanderers began with a familiar line-up and once again elected to trust the attack to 17 year old striker Bryleeh Henry ahead of the in-form super-sub Leena Khamis.
From the first whistle the Wanderers were on the attack and looked to test the experienced defence of Jenna McCormick and Emma Checker. Georgia Yeoman-Dale brilliantly cut the ball back inside from the left wing and hit a well struck shot that Barbieri saved confidently and Teigan Collister was looking dangerous on the opposite flank.
In the 12th minute the deadlock was broken, Collister whipped in a low cross into the area between the goalkeeper and the defence and Bryleeh Henry attacked the ball hardest to finish beyond Barbieri from point blank range.
The ball into the box was perfect, any defender trying to cut it off would have risked an own goal and Henry was able to use her impressive acceleration to arrive on time to bury it home. She has looked dangerous in recent weeks, her speed troubled the Victory and defenders the week before but this time she had the finishing to match, she deserved her first W-League goal and had rewarded the faith that the coaches have placed in her.
Henry might have secured the headlines but it was very much the Collister show, the winger once more helping set up Yeoman-Dale to test Barbieri and again the keeper was able to save spectacularly with a diving effort.
There was nothing she could do to stop what happened next though, Collister received the ball from a Julie-Anne Russell switch and sent the ball in toward Henry who did not waste the surprising amount of space she was in and tapped home to make it 2-0 to the visitors at half time.
City began the second half in search of goals and with nothing to lose, Hollie Palmer found Alex Chidiac with a nice cross early in the second half but she was unable to direct the header on target.
The hosts were unlucky not to receive a penalty after Chinatsu Kira was chopped down in the box, it was during a tussle for the ball but the defender got none of the ball yet somehow miraculously received a free kick themselves.
Jenna McCormick went on a solo run down the right, hoping to inspire her team and her cross caused momentary panic for the Wanderers defence, unfortunately it sailed past the back post with nobody there to meet it.
Substitute Sam Johnson had one of the clearer chances for City when she connected cleanly with her head from a corner but the ball flew over the bar. Western Sydney had a two-goal cushion but it momentarily looked under threat.
Collister continued her dominant display, another trademark run resulted in a shot that bobbled around the six-yard box and forced Barbieri into a miraculous save before being called into action again to deny Henry her hat-trick with a strong save from a flicked shot on target.
Rosie Galea was next to find the goal, Collister again was the main instigator, another cross from the right was not cleared by Melbourne and with the ball running behind Henry the substitute was on hand to smash it into the back of the net, burying any chance of a comeback by the hosts.
In the dying minutes Galea added a second and the Wanderers fourth, Yeoman-Dale was the provider on this occasion, sending in a dangerous cross that Barbieri parried away, the ball bounced in the 18 yard box and Galea reacted fastest, attacked the ball at full pace and rifled it home to make it 4-0.
It wasn’t a classic game, but Teigan Collister’s performance was one to admire, a winger in flying form at full pace is still one of the sport’s greatest sights and her contribution to the side was massive.
The emergence of Bryleeh Henry as a scoring threat in this match was exciting to see and Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Dean Heffernan should be commended for trusting and developing her this season when goals were scarce for much of the year. Western Sydney have slowly worked their way into form, if the season was a few weeks longer they would look a dangerous finals prospect and if they can keep the core of this side together next season they should find some success.
Melbourne City are going through a rough patch, they recruited experienced talented players across the park but are clearly missing a reliable goal scorer. They have a short wait before the chance to redeem themselves as they play Newcastle Jets three days later and will want to end the season with a few wins.
Teams: MELBOURNE CITY: Barbieri, Checker, Thomas-Chinnama, McCormick, Tumeth, Vlajnic, Davidson, Hoelsbrekken-Eckhoff, Kira, Chidiac, Palmer. Substitutes: Micah, Johnson, Cain, Muldeary, Dobson.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.
Scorers: Henry 12, 26. Galea 82, 90+3.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.
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