Friday A-League Women Previews

Ahead of Friday’s two A-League Women matches, Impetus’ Ben Gilby heard from the camps of three of the four teams in action.

Above: Adelaide United striker Chelsie Dawber speaking to the media this week. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.

ADELAIDE UNITED:

Adelaide United‘s in-form striker Chelsie Dawber spoke of her delight to return to Coopers Stadium for her team’s game Round Ten game with Newcastle Jets on Friday night.

“It’s always good to play at Coopers as it’s different from Marden (the venue where Adelaide United’s women have played most games in recent times).”

After an inconsistent start to the season, the Reds are in excellent form, which has seen them rise to third place in the A-League Women table. Dawber tried to put her finger on what is behind their recent successes.

“We’re really gelling as a team now, both on and off the pitch…we lost a few players at the end of last season and signed some from interstate…Now we have belief that we can beat top sides and we know we are not a yo-yo side. We look to perform week-in-week-out now and look to continue the performances of the last few weeks and do that again on Friday. We’ve definitely come on leaps and bounds.”

The locally born striker also identified how the team’s consistent positive run of results over the past two seasons has brought about a change within the players who have been at the club long term.

Above: Adelaide United’s in-form striker Chelsie Dawber spoke of her Matildas aspirations and a potential overseas move this week. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.

“We put more pressure on ourselves now to perform each week. A couple of years ago we were happy to get a win here and there. Now the culture and mindset has changed and we’re more positive and know we can be Finals contenders this season.”

Dawber’s present goal-scoring record of three in her last four sees her continue where she left off for Adelaide City in the South Australia NPL Women’s competition with the striker scoring 16 goals in 21 games. It is a run that the South Australian is hoping to continue in order for her to earn international recognition.

“I’ve scored a lot of goals and also at the back end of last season in the W-League too. I’d like to think I’m in contention for the Matildas, but I have to keep scoring each week. I’m still young, who knows, my time may come.”

The 22-year-old also recognizes that in order to grow as a person and as a player she is likely to have to look for a move outside of Australia. She revealed that this is something that may happen sooner rather than later.

“I’d definitely like to go overseas to play and hopefully that would give me more experience to maybe then train with the Matildas, but my focus now is Adelaide United. My agent has spoken to a few clubs, but if I keep playing well and scoring, maybe there will get some chances to get some experience overseas.”

Above: Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta (far left) spoke to the media today ahead of Adelaide United’s game with Newcastle Jets tomorrow. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.

Ahead of his team’s game with Newcastle Jets on Friday, Adelaide United head coach Adrian Stenta reflected on last week’s dominant performance against Western Sydney Wanderers.

“Across the 90 minutes it was probably our most consistent (performance of the season). We were in control for most of the match, we created lots of chances and we defended as well as we have all season.”

Stenta spoke of how impressed he has been with the Jets so far this season: “They are back in the saddle after having a bit of a (COVID enforced) break. They are unbeaten in five. As long as I’ve been here, we’ve always had really close games with Newcastle, so I’m expecting a really close match.

“There are only 14 games in our season, so every game is important. You can’t afford to have too many slip-ups as there are not many games to make up ground.”

Adelaide’s head coach admitted that his team’s strong performances of late are giving him the best type of problem – who to select and who to leave out.

“We have an interesting dynamic at the moment as there’s a lot of players playing well, but also a number really impressing in training and trying to force their way in. It’s a headache to have, but a good headache!”

With Chelsie Dawber in excellent goal-scoring form at present, Stenta revealed she is thriving having been given extra responsibilities in the squad.

“She’s now part of the leadership group and that has added another level to her game. She is always dangerous. It doesn’t matter what the impact on the game has been, if she can find herself in the right spot, she will finish well.”

He concluded by updating injury news. After taking a blow to the head at Western Sydney, there was good news about Dylan Holmes. “Dylan is fine, she’s OK to play this weekend, (taking her off last week) was more precautionary than anything.

MELBOURNE VICTORY:

Above: Melbourne Victory’s new signing Brooke Hendrix. Artwork: Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory has announced a new signing in time for Friday’s game with Wellington Phoenix in Wollongong.

American defender Brooke Hendrix has joined the club for the remainder of the 2021/22 Liberty A-League Women’s season in place of injured captain Kayla Morrison.

Hendrix joins from NWSL club Racing Louisville. The 28-year-old comes with extensive European experience having previously played for West Ham United in the FA Women’s Super League, Brescia in the Italian Women’s Serie A, FC Staad in Switzerland, and Fylkir in Iceland.

After defensive difficulties since the early-season injury to Morrison, Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins spoke of his delight at completing the signing of Hendrix.

“We’re incredibly excited to sign a player of Brooke’s calibre for the remainder of the season. Brooke fits the shape of the type of player we require to continue to push for the title this season and will fill an important gap left by the injury of Kayla Morrison.

“Her experience across the globe matched with her physical prowess and ability to command the defensive line is something we’re really looking forward to see her bring to the team.”

Hendrix was excited about the opportunity that is in front of her over the next six weeks.

“I’m thrilled to be joining Melbourne Victory for the remainder of the A-League Women’s season and can’t wait to hit the ground and get started,” Hendrix said.

“I’ve heard a lot about the league from abroad and I’m looking forward to the challenge and helping Melbourne Victory achieve success this season.”

The defender will be available for selection for Friday’s clash with Wellington Phoenix at WIN Stadium pending international clearance.

WELLINGTON PHOENIX:

Above: Wellington Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis spoke to the media today ahead of her team’s match with Melbourne Victory tomorrow. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.

Wellington Phoenix have another tough task ahead of them on Friday night when they welcome defending champions Melbourne Victory to WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

However, head coach Gemma Lewis is confident that her team’s first win in the competition is just around the corner.

“Everything has been focussed around this one win.., but we look at the next five games and feel like there’s more up for grabs than just one win in there, based on our current performances, based on the oppositions that we’ve come up against.

“I realise that us saying that when we haven’t won a game yet might see quite backwards, but I think our mentality of where we’re at now in the season, how confident we feel in the team we’re almost like saying to them ‘what do you want, put a number on it, how many points do you want to get out of the next five games and we’re going to chase after that’.

“We’re not going to turn around and say we’re going to aim for three points from every single game because we don’t feel like that’s setting ourselves a realistic expectation.

“We haven’t settled on a number yet but it won’t be three. We want to set ourselves bigger targets than that.”

Lewis is expecting her team to bounce back strongly after letting a 2-1 lead over Perth Glory slip between their fingers in the final nine minutes on Monday.

“I’m hoping to see a better bounce back from that moving forward that we’re holding ourselves accountable.

“Not accepting that ‘aww we were so close’ and ‘that was great to be that close’ (when) it was our own undoing that stopped us getting the points.”

While the Phoenix have had only three full days to prepare for tomorrow night’s match, Victory haven’t played for almost three weeks.

“If I’m being quite honest a short turnaround always brings a little bit more worry because of how we like to play, because of the type of team we are and physically where we’re at in the season you know some players are carrying some fatigue.

“The bounce back from the game hasn’t been so bad it’s more been trying to calm the nerves and the feelings that we might not be ready to compete by tomorrow and getting in that belief in them that we can use the depth in our squad.

“Players can step up that are fresh and maybe haven’t had those minutes or fatigue in them and they’re raring to go and we can still compete at that level.”

Above: Grace Wisnewski. Photo: Hagan Hopkins/Getty Images. Supplied by: Wellington Phoenix.

Gemma Lewis will be unable to call on hard-working midfielder Grace Wisnewski, who has made herself unavailable for selection for mental health reasons.

“We’ve supported her and think she’s an incredible player and an incredible person. Even before coming here she was working through mental health, and deals with some anxiety.

“We support her in that space and we’ve supported her through this whole programme both at home and now here.

“With the short turnaround she doesn’t quite get a good recovery space and settles in enough time to be ready to go again and doesn’t want to put the team in unnecessary harm by her potentially not playing as well as she would like to.

“It’s just not the right time for her to be playing. We’re super supportive of her sitting this one out and supporting her team-mates.”

Lewis praised the 19-year-old’s strength for discussing her feelings.

“She brought it to us and we talked about it…I think it was really important for her to make that decision herself.

“We massively support that and we also think it’s the right decision for the team at this moment in time.

“We’re super supportive of it and also super proud that she feels confident in her environment to let us share that.”

Phoenix will also be without Kelli Brown due to concussion, and, despite returning from an ankle knock against Perth Glory on Monday, Mackenzie Barry may also miss out.

“She (Barry) did so well against Perth so of course we want her but the short turnaround doesn’t allow her (ankle) a lot of time to settle and almost puts it at a higher risk.

“Potentially for this game she misses out to make sure she’s fully back for the next game and onwards, because our turnarounds are a lot more reasonable.

“We don’t want to put her an unnecessary risk knowing that we could lose her for a longer period of time.”

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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