Relentless Sydney Sent Out Ominous Warning To Rivals

Sydney FC 3-0 Melbourne City

Report by Ben Gilby, Exclusive pitchside photos from Kris Goman at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium (23/1/22).

Above: Rachel Lowe fires home Sydney FC’s third goal. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Sydney FC sounded out a clear message to the other top four clubs in the A-League Women after they comfortably saw off second-placed Melbourne City on Saturday.

Going into the match, Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic had pointed out that Sydney had built their unbeaten start to the season on the basis of not yet playing anyone in the top four. However, given the way the home side swatted aside one of the strongest teams in the competition, there can be no denying that the Harbour City club is the real deal and are white-hot favourites to take the silverware at the end of the campaign.

This win saw Jada Whyman equal Lydia Williams’ record for the most consecutive clean sheets in the competition’s history with seven. Additionally, the result increased Sydney’s goalscoring run to 18 in their last four games – more than any other team in the competition has scored over the entire season.

The visitors started with a very high press during the opening arm-wrestle period. Whilst City earned the first corner, it was Sydney who created the game’s first chance with seven minutes on the clock.

Above: Paige Satchell (right) produced her best display of the season for Sydney FC. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Mackenzie Hawkesby gathered possession from the City corner and got free down the left to feed Paige Satchell just outside her. The Football Fern advanced towards the box beating Kaitlyn Torpey and squared a ball across into the path of Cote Rojas via Tyla-Jay Vlajnic’s attempted block, but one on one with Melissa Barbieri, the Chilean striker could not get sufficient power in her effort to beat the City shot-stopper. Satchell’s follow-up was also dealt with.

This close call from the hosts was the starting point of the momentum going in their favour. Sydney was caught offside in deep offensive positions twice in quick succession with City working hard to force both Princess Ibini and Rojas to be on the wrong end of the referee’s decisions.

Satchell was growing in influence along the left and forced a corner. From it, the ball was recycled to Charlotte Mclean over 25 yards out and the defender drove in a powerful effort which Barbieri did well to push out for another corner. It would have been a sensational way to score her first-ever W/A-League Women goal.

The home side’s increasing dominance was being aided by an uncharacteristic lack of composure in defence by the Victorian visitors. Too many City players were losing possession and inviting pressure from a Sydney side that does not need a second invitation to attack.

It was Melbourne City who had the next opportunity after a Sydney error with 27 minutes played. Ally Green’s backpass was both too short and wrongly directed. Rebekah Stott came in looking to take advantage, but Jada Whyman came out quickly to deny the Kiwi.

Above: Rebekah Stott (left) was creative once more for Melbourne City. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Just after the half-hour mark, the home side came close when Rojas’ header was saved by Barbieri, but moments later, they made the breakthrough. Leah Davidson lost possession in the midfield and Hawkesby played the ball on to Rojas, who in turn found Ibini around 25 yards out from goal to the right of centre. The striker’s looping pass found Satchell and her first-time effort flew into the far corner of the net. Given her influence on the game, it was a deserved first Sydney goal for the New Zealander.

Less than two minutes before the break, Sydney exposed the City defence once more to double their lead. Green, on the left, hit a long ball from inside her own half which Lowe ran onto, taking advantage of the visitors’ high line to take a touch, come inside, and drive a shot to the left of Barbieri for 2-0.

City came out firing at the start of the second half when Torpey released Hannah Wilkinson on the right. The competition’s top scorer got a fierce shot away which Whyman did well to push behind at her near post.

The resulting corner was curled in high by Vlajnic and dispatched into the net by Emma Checker, but referee Rachael Mitchenson ruled the effort out with Tori Tunmeth adjudged to have fouled Whyman as the ball came across.

City was having the better of the opening period of the second half with Wilkinson getting a shot in which did not have the necessary power to bother Whyman. Torpey got a rocket away from the right-hand side after running onto Stott’s chest down which flew centimetres wide of the far post.

Above: Melbourne City’s Hannah Wilkinson who had several chances in the second half to get City back into the game. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Wilkinson had another opportunity on 57 minutes when Davidson found her on the left of the box. The Kiwi got past Mclean and hit a strong effort which Whyman did well to get a hand to.

Sydney weathered the Melbourne City storm and re-established their control of proceedings. Hawkesby saw a run by Satchell and lifted a superb ball through the City defence into the stride of her team-mate. Satchell, under pressure from Emma Checker got a shot away across goal which was just wide of the left-hand post.

The home side made City pay for their inability to get back into the game as they settled matters with a third goal – and it was all too easy.

A free-kick from Green just inside their attacking half of the pitch was allowed to bounce into the box by the City defence giving Lowe all the time in the world to run through fire home with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Shea Hollman, a 16-year-old prospect from Manly United then came on for her A-League Women debut as Sydney showed that whilst their present is very bright, the future isn’t looking too bad either.

Above: Sydney celebrate Rachel Lowe’s second goal which confirmed that they would end the game seven points clear at the top of the table. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Right now it is impossible to see anyone stopping Sydney.

Paige Satchell highlighted the importance of her team’s first-half performance: “I’m excited to finish, it was my first goal for the club. Going into half-time 2-0 up was important as we could relax a little. We finished the half on a good foot and just needed to keep going. We got better and maintained the momentum.”

A disappointed Emma Checker said post-match: “It’s disappointing. We came into the game with much higher expectations for the result and standard of our play. The first half was the most disappointing. We struggled to keep the ball, we were frantic and we were flat.

“We’ve had a few first halves like that but been fortunate that teams didn’t capitalize on that. Against a strong team like Sydney, they took control. We came out strong in the second half, but it wasn’t enough today.”

Speaking after the game, Sydney FC goalkeeper Jada Whyman spoke about equalling the record of consecutive clean sheets held by her hero Lydia Williams. “It means a lot to me. The girls have defended through all the games this season. The clean sheets go to the keeper but the amount of defence the girls do makes my life easier. So it’s seven clean sheets for Sydney FC.

“For me I talk to the defence a lot to keep focus on the game. It helps that they listen to me! As a team we just need to keep moving forward now. Any team can challenge us, but we look forward to the rest of the season now.”

Kris Goman’s Exclusive Photo Gallery From The Match

(Click on the arrow on the right of the image to view the following pictures.)

Teams: SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Whyman, Rule, Mclean, Tobin, Green, Hawkesby, Hunter, Lowe, Satchell, Rojas, Ibini. Substitutes: Offer (GK), Nash, Hristodoulou, Ray, Hollman.

Scorers: Satchell 33′, Lowe 44, 74′.

MELBOURNE CITY (3-4-2-1): Barbieri, Heatley, Checker, Tunmeth, Vlajnic, Torpey, Davidson, Malone, Stott, Wilkinson, Pollicina. Substitutes: James (GK), Van der Meer, Blissett, Westland, Thomas-Chinnama.

Referee: Rachael Mitchenson.

Attendance: 1,259.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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