Sydney Take Premiership Decider

Sydney FC 2-1 Melbourne Victory

Report from Kris Goman at Cromer Park.

Above: Sydney FC’s squad celebrate with the Premiers Plate. Photo: @SydneyFC

Sydney finally clinch the premiership after ten years in the doldrums. Despite winning the championship three times, the premiership, which is awarded to the team who finish top of the table at the end of the regular W-League season has remained elusive in recent years.

Captain Teresa Polias was actually on the team last time Sydney won the Premiership and it speaks volumes of her longevity as that was in 2011, exactly ten years ago.

The funny thing about this match is that everything is at stake but nothing is at stake. If either team win they would win the Premiership and get a home semi-final which gives a distinct advantage. On the other hand, both teams have safely qualified for the finals series and a loss would not change that. It would just change who they played and where the game would take place.

Sydney are playing without star forward Cortnee Vine who injured her knee last week against Canberra. I spoke to her after the match and she didn’t know yet the extent of the damage but knew it was an MCL injury not an ACL. That still puts her out of the Finals series unfortunately.

Victory are fielding much the same team that demolished Perth Glory on the weekend. When you’re on a good thing, stick to it.

So in this much anticipated match which was originally due to be played a fortnight ago but postponed due to sustained heavy rain, Melbourne Victory kick off and are immediately on the attack. The press down the left through Lisa De Vanna, Angie Beard and Kyra Cooney-Cross is unrelenting but the Sydney defence are standing up to this attack. Sydney are attacking mostly on transition and Mackenzie Hawkesby gets a long ball to Princess Ibini who drives towards the box before passing back to Hawkesby. She takes one touch but pokes it over the crossbar uncontrolled.

Not too long after, Remy Siemsen takes a long range shot outside the box but Gabriela Garton has it in her sights the whole way.

Straight back on the attack De Vanna displays her signature fancy footwork and sidesteps a number of defenders before passing to Cooney-Cross who also takes a long range punt. It’s a bit too high and goes over the crossbar but it was nicely weighted and directed other than height. It certainly shows what she’s capable of.

Almost immediately afterwards Beard takes a shot but it’s straight to Jada Mathyssen-Whyman in the Sydney goal. Victory have come to play, no doubt about that.

Above: Melbourne Victory’s Angie Beard (right) tussles with Sydney FC’s Rachel Lowe. Photo: @VictoryWLeague

Victory continue to press. Natalie Tobin and Natasha Prior are standing up to the onslaught but at this stage, it feels like Victory has the upper hand and the bulk of both possession and territory. Cooney-Cross gets another couple of shots in, one is gathered by Mathyssen-Whyman and one deflected by Tobin. Even Princess Ibini finds herself back doing a lot of defensive work.

On a rare Sydney attack, a ball comes into the box to Ibini but she’s not facing goal and can’t turn and the danger is nullified.

A Rachel Lowe intercept sees another incursion to the box for Sydney but results in a free kick just outside the box to be taken by Teresa Polias. Victory establish a large wall. The kick goes just over the wall to the top of the near post and into the back of the net past the outstretched arms of Garton. So sweetly struck for what is unbelievably only Polias’ third goal in her 155 W-league matches.

Victory are not fazed by the goal and continue their attack getting two corners shortly after the goal. They both come to naught.

Hawkesby gets a yellow for a shirt pull on Cooney-Cross. The resulting free kick is cleared but then bounces around outside the box until Prior chooses to clear over the goal line to relieve the pressure with a corner.

There are moments of brilliance from both sides but Victory still seem to have the bulk of possession and territory in the lead up to half time but the Sydney defence stand resolute.

Just before half time Sydney bring the ball into the box and Siemsen gets it back to Hawkesby. Her shot passes Kayla Ann Morrison and Garton pushes it away towards Ibini. Ibini ends up kicking it out as Garton dives and gets a hand to it so it’s a Sydney corner. The corner goes into the side netting in a wasted opportunity.

The second half sees more of the same. There’s a gasp as Garton does a soft clearance that Wheeler intercepts but she can’t control it and it goes straight back out.

Above: Teresa Polias celebrates after putting Sydney FC ahead with a stunning free-kick. Photo: @SydneyFC

Things feel a little bit more even in the second half and Sydney get a few more attacking opportunities.  In one, Hawkesby passes to Siemsen and she gets a decent shot away only to be called offside. Garton had it covered but it was a better play by Sydney.

A Victory attack with a cross from substitute Catherine Zimmerman cross sees Mathyssen-Whyman stretch up high to grab then drop then retrieve the ball right in front of goal.

A little later Zimmerman receives the ball out on the right and runs Green around before shooting straight to Mathyssen-Whyman.

A Polias ball out to Ibini on the left sees her drive once more into the box and send a ball across an open goal that is missed by everyone.

De Vanna has a shot up the other end after some nice lead up work by Victory but it’s also straight into Mathyssen-Whyman’s arms.

After 71 minutes, Sydney get a penalty when Siemsen is fouled on the left on the box. Ibini steps up to take it and powers it past Garton on the right and this takes the score to 2-0 Sydney, even though it’s not really that reflective of the match, Sydney have taken their chances and Victory just haven’t been able to broach the Sky Blues’ defence despite a concerted effort.

Melina Ayres splatters Ally Green with a boot to the face and gets a yellow for her efforts. It takes a while to get her sorted and back on the field.

In a last second saving of face, Cooney-Cross displays some individual brilliance. Five minutes into stoppage time, the ball comes out to the right from Ayres to Cooney-Cross. She brings it into the box, drags it to her left, wrong foots Green and sends a rocket to the top left corner beating Mathyssen-Wyman. It’s all too little, too late but was definitely the goal of the match, just beautifully struck and showing her total class.

Above: Melbourne Victory’s young starlet Kyra Cooney-Cross (right), scorer of a brilliant late goal, battling it out with Sydney FC’s Clare Wheeler. Photo: @VictoryWLeague.

Sydney get the match, the Premiership and the semi-final hosting rights. The trophy is presented to Polias and she brings it over to her team and they hoist it in victory. It was a well-deserved win in the end and marks the end of a fairly dominant season by Sydney where they were table toppers week in, week out.

Victory look on desolate as they really put in a great effort in this match but just couldn’t bring home the bacon.

Above: Sydney FC celebrate with the Premiers Plate after the game. Photo: @SydneyFC

Teams: SYDNEY FC: Mathyssen-Whyman, Mclean, Green, Prior, Tobin, Polias, Hawkesby, Wheeler, Siemsen, Lowe, Ibini. Substitutes: Campbell (GK), Hristodoulou, Rule, Ray, Toby.

Scorers: Polias 29, Ibini 73.

MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Longo, Cooney-Cross, Ayres, Barbieri, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis, Zimmerman.

Scorer: Cooney-Cross 90+5.

Referee: Casey Reibelt.

Attendance: 1,111.

Westfield W-League Final Table 2020/21:

 PWDLFAPtsGD
Sydney FC12912261128+15
Brisbane Roar12741291225+17
Melbourne Victory12723251424+11
Canberra United12642211622+5
Adelaide United12714221821+4
Western Sydney Wanderers12417132113-8
Melbourne City12417112313-12
Newcastle Jets1221914217-7
Perth Glory1201107321-25

Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.

Semi-Final Fixtures:

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory: Sunday 4th April, 4pm KO local time (5am UK)

Sydney FC v Canberra United: Monday 5th April, 3pm KO local time (4am UK)

All games live on BT Sport in the UK

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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