Pollicina’s Class Settles Tight Tussle

Adelaide United 0-1 Melbourne City

By Kieran Yap (15/1/22)

Above: Rhianna Pollicina jumps for joy after scoring Melbourne City’s match-winner. Photo: Melbourne City.

A single goal was all that separated Melbourne City and Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium.

Both teams went into this game with unique disruptions. City was a victim of their own success and was without Holly McNamara and Winonah Heatley. The duo had been called up to the Matildas Asian Cup preliminary squad after starting the season in fantastic form.

Adelaide has a settled lineup but head coach Adrian Stenta was unable to attend the match due to COVID restrictions.

They each were on their own winning streaks. Adelaide was looking to make it three in a row and consolidate their top-four position. City had the chance to win for the fourth time running and enhance their title credentials.

Adelaide began the game stronger. They pressured Melbourne City and created the early chances. Emily Condon tried her luck from a free-kick but Melissa Barbieri was untested by the attempt.

The best chance for The Reds came when Isabel Hodgson lofted a clever pass over the top of the City defenders. Chelsie Dawber controlled it and whipped in a dangerous low ball. Emma Checker was on hand to step in and clear the ball for City.

Above: Melbourne City’s Rebekah Stott (right) – who had a great chance for her team in the first half. Photo: Melbourne City.

Rebakah Stott had the visitor’s best chance for the first half. In a more attacking role, she was close to turning in an enticing cross but Adelaide survived and the scores stayed level.

As the half ended, Fiona Worts brought the best out of Barbieri. The in-form striker hit a stinging left-foot volley from the edge of the box. It was on target and travelling fast but it was not enough to beat the legendary goalkeeper. It remained nil-all at halftime.

This was not a game of many chances, but in the second half, City wrestled back control of the game.

Checker tried her luck from long range, but her speculative shot was easily held by Annalee Grove. Stott teed up Rhianna Pollicina from a set-piece but the playmaker’s shot sailed harmlessly wide.

Pollicina has been somewhat of an unsung hero for City so far this season. She has started every game and been a creative force against each opponent. In the shadow of some spectacular individual moment from Mcnamara and Hannah Wilkinson, she has perhaps been overlooked for praise.

In the absence of McNamara, Pollicina took on more responsibility and then took her chance to score the defining goal.

In a terrific piece of play, she exchanged passes with Rebekah Stott 18 yards from goal. Stott shaped to shoot but instead clipped a perfectly weighted ball through into Pollicina’s feet. City’s number 10 controlled the ball and held off the attention of Paige Hayward. In the style reminiscent of her futsal career, she took an extra touch to cruise past the final defender and toe poke it under Grove to make it 1-0.

Above: Melbourne City’s goalscorer Rhianna Pollicina in a dominant pose against Adelaide United today. Photo: Melbourne City

It was a classy goal in a tight match and a deserved reward for a game in which she constantly kept trying to make things happen.

Adelaide had been weakened in two areas of the pitch in one substitution. Isabel Hodgson was limited to an hour of game time as she continues to recover from an injury. When she was withdrawn, Paige Hayward had to shift from the left-wing to right back.

Hayward had been a reliable provider of crosses and defensive pressure from her starting position. She is also a capable full-back but Adelaide was effectively without their best winger and first-choice right-back simultaneously with that move.

The Reds continued to push for an equalizer. Melbourne City’s defence was too well organized and composed. Naomi Chinnama was particularly impressive in her first start for the season and Emma Checker was impassable.

Above: Adelaide United’s Emily Condon (right) – who had her team’s best chance – holds off a City tackle today. Photo: Adelaide United.

Emily Condon had the best opportunity to draw level when she raced onto Chelsie Dawber’s pass. She got beyond the defenders and had time in the box. She took a steadying touch and aimed her shot, but Barbieri was again well-positioned to save and hold onto the ball.

This was City’s only defensive lapse for the half and they did not give up another chance. Melbourne City held on to the one-goal advantage to record an important and impressive win on the road.

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-2-3-1): Grove, I.Hodgson, McNamara, Sharples, E.Hodgson, Sasaki, Holmes, Dawber, Condon, Heyward, Worts. Substitutes: Murray, Omiya, Stanbury, Templeman (GK), Tonkin.

MELBOURNE CITY (3-4-2-1): Barbieri, Chinnama, Checker, Tunmeth, Torpey, Davidson, Malone, Vlajnic, Scott, Pollicina, Wilkinson. Substitutes: Blissett, Karic, Majstorovic (GK), Westland, van der Meer.

Scorer: Pollicina 66′.

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello.

Attendance: 2,062.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: