Adelaide United 0-1 Sydney FC
Above: Sydney FC celebrate winning the Premier’s Plate after defeating Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium today. Photo: Sydney FC.
By Kieran Yap (6/3/22)
The title would be decided in Adelaide. Sydney FC travelled south in need of a draw to finish top of the table. A chaotic first half yielded few clear-cut chances and neither team could impose themselves on the contest.
Reona Omiya had a chance that she should have buried in the opening minutes. Fiona Worts’ high, looping cross was not cleared and the ball fell to Omiya.
She hit her shot well but directly at Jada Whyman who got down low to block it and hold onto the bobbling rebound.
Worts almost got in on goal again and appealed for a penalty as Charlize Rule looked to have fouled the striker. The referee did not consider the contact to be enough and waved play on.
Sydney FC are normally a team that dominates in midfield. Although all of their midfield trio were involved heavily they were unable to control the pace of the game. Adelaide prefer the match played at a frenetic pace and turnovers for both sides were common.
With final passes often cut off by Kayla Sharples and Matilda McNamara, Rachel Lowe decided to skip that and go direct for goal from long range. Annalee Grove scrambled back to stop it but it over overhit and sailed beyond the goal.
Mackenzie Hawkesby was dynamic in midfield and attempted to knit play together but the Adelaide back four played with a low-risk mentality, clearing any first-half attacks with either a solid boot to safety or running the ball out individually.
Chelsie Dawber almost added to her 10 goals for the season with an attempt to hook the ball over her shoulder. The shot was on target but Whyman was well placed and held onto it firmly.
The half ended with a rare passing move involving Princess Ibini, Hawesby, and Paige Satchell. The New Zealand winger shot well at the near post but Grove was equal to it
Remy Siemsen had the first opportunity after the break, her half-volley from a tight angle swung wide but it was the first sign that Adelaide’s defence could be penetrated.
A slick passing move by Sydney FC involving Ally Green and Siemsen put Ibini in space and within range. Her curling effort looked good off the boot but did not dip in time to trouble Grove.
Mackenzie Hawkesby continued to threaten with long-range shots as Sydney started to find some momentum. Adelaide United remained dangerous on the counterattack but could not find any easy openings in attack.
On the hour mark, the deadlock was finally broken. Paige Satchell teed up Siemsen for a shot that Grove did well to block. The resulting corner kick fell to Satchell who clipped it up and over Grove with a terrific finish.
That goal put Sydney FC in a strong position to retain to the Premiership. Adelaide would need to score twice to hand the title to Melbourne City.
Fiona Worts lined up a shot from 20 yards out, it was blocked at close quarters by Nat Tobin who took the pain to save a goal.
As the game wore on Adelaide started to rest players with an eye on finals. Matilda McNamara had already been withdrawn and skipper Isabel Hodgson joined her on the bench.
The Reds could go neither up nor down on the ladder, but they continued to attack. A classy flick by Dawber put Amelia Murray through on goal but she scuffed the shot.
Grace Taranto on for her second appearance of the season almost levelled the scores but her shot was deflected wide. From the corner kick, Emma Stanbury looked to have been fouled from behind by the referee was unable to see it clearly from her angle.
Satchell went right up the other end and rocketed a shot toward goal. Grove stretched athletically to tip it over.
Adelaide looked suddenly energized by the missed penalty shout and lifted in injury time, the game opened up momentarily but Sydney FC held out to win and be crowned Premiers for another consecutive year.
Adelaide would not be too troubled by the loss. They have finished third, their best ever position, and will play finals with players rested and returning from injury or suspension. They should add Nanako Sasaki and Emily Condon to this side with Paige Hayward possibly joining them too.
Sydney FC are the 2021/22 A-League Women’s Premiers. They have only lost one game and been held to a draw only twice. They have dominated most games and broken defensive records. Two of their attackers became capped Matildas and they have a young, talented squad that deserve to be crowned premiers once again.
Speaking after the game, Sydney FC’s Nat Tobin spoke of her initial reaction to claiming the Premier’s Plate. “I almost cried there, it’s just so exciting, we’ve had the best season and to be rewarded for it is incredible and I’m so, so proud of the girls.
“We’ve got a young team and we lost some really good players last season and I think we had that expectation to win because we did so well, so it’s really overwhelming.”
Head coach Ante Juric was a proud man after the game: “It’s been a fantastic season by the squad. We have worked hard and deserve this Premiership.
“We have been consistent in our levels of performance, which is a credit to the attitude of these girls. It is hard to continually be successful and always be at the top, as everyone steps up against us and wants to beat us. We embrace this and know it’s a privilege to be in this situation.
“For the club to win the Premiership for a second straight year is a great achievement and a rare achievement. We know there is more to do and more to achieve as we prepare for Finals, but we are focussed and driven to keep working hard to succeed.”
Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-3): Grove, I.Hodgson, McNamara, Sharples, E.Hodgson, Tonkin, Holmes, Omiya, Dawber, Stanbury, Worts. Substitutes: Beaumont (GK), Mullan, Murray, Taranto, Templeman.
SYDNEY FC (4-2-3-1): Whyman, Green, Tobin, Mclean, Rule, Hawkesby, Lowe, Ibini, Ray, Satchell, Siemsen. Substitutes: Hunter, Johnson, Nash, Offer (GK), Rojas.
Scorer: Satchell 61′.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.