Stenta’s Super Sub Nets Winner Against Sydney FC

Adelaide United 1-0 Sydney FC

By Kieran Yap (20/11/22)

Above: Emilia Murray turns away in delight after scoring her late winner for Adelaide United. Photo: Liberty A-League.

Adelaide United has gotten their season off to the perfect start with a 1-0 win over reigning premiers Sydney FC.

A tight, and very even contest was eventually decided in the 87th minute with Emilia Murray’s first goal in the A-League Women.

The match, at Adelaide’s ServiceFM Stadium was played in blustery conditions similar to that which Melbourne Victory and Western United had to contend with.  Both teams tried to keep the ball on the ground, which led to numerous intercepted passes in the final third, and a match that was played mostly in midfield.

Adelaide finished last season with the best record in their history. A first finals campaign was stopped by Melbourne Victory, but they have retained the majority of their squad this season, and added Victory’s Melinda Barbieri, while welcoming back former star defender Maruschka Waldus.

Above: Sarah Hunter (left) contests possession for Sydney FC in Adelaide today. Photo: Adelaide United.

Sydney’s season begins missing some key players from their consecutive premierships. Remy Siemsen moved to Europe, while Taylor Ray is unavailable after suffering a knee injury on international duty. Fan favourite full back Ally Green has been replaced by fellow New Zealand international Anna Green.

In their place, Sydney FC has strengthened in some areas. Abby Lemmon has joined after impressing at the Youth World Cup with the Young Matildas. Kirsty Fenton has joined from Newcastle Jets, and striker Shay Evans has returned to the club.

With all the new faces, it was the most famous name that started the game brightest. Cortnee Vine began the season at full pace. Her early trademark run down the right created the first real scoring chance for Sydney FC. The cutback fell to Charlize Rule, but Annalee Grove in the Adelaide goal made an athletic save with her outstretched foot.

Emily Condon was Adelaide’s most creative force in the first half. Her acceleration and eye for an opportunity broke though Sydney’s midfield press. She carried the ball with purpose and confidence and played a well-timed pass out wide to Chelsie Dawber.

The playmaker continued her run and got on the end of Dawber’s cross but the ball bounced into the arms of Jada Whyman to snuff out the danger.

Above: Dylan Holmes (right) tussles with Mackenzie Hawkesby of Sydney FC. Photo: Adelaide United.

In midfield, Sydney’s Mackenzie Hawkesby was engaged in an entertaining duel with Adelaide’s Dylan Holmes. The two box-to-box midfielders each tried to assert their influence on the match while keeping the other under control.

The results were far from a stalemate. Each had their moments in the game, although Hawkesby was able to get forward more and posed more of a threat than Holmes through her set pieces.

The second half saw the game open up more. Dawber had a shot skid just wide of the left post after a cutback from Fiona Worts.

Sydney’s best chance came after another Vine run. Her low cross was cleverly left by Hawkesby in the middle and arrived at the feet of Princess Ibini in acres of space and an eternity of time. Grove stayed on her feet and composed. The shot was directed straight at her without much power. it was a surprising waste by a player whose right foot normally packs a punch.

With the game headed toward a draw. Adelaide coach Adrian Stenta made some changes. He brought off Emily Condon, captain Isobel Hodgson, and Dolan Medallist Fiona Worts.

Onto the pitch came, Emilia Murray, Barbieri, and Meisha Westland. Katie Bowler also replacing Xiao Yuyi.

Above: Sheer joy for Emilia Murray after the local teenager secured Adelaide United’s win. Photo: Adelaide United.

The move was courageous. Stenta was taking off a lot of experience and proven match-winning ability, including last season’s Golden Boot winner.

In the 87th minute, Emilia Murray scored the match-winner. The 18-year-old made an intelligent run into the box when Dawber received the ball out wide on the right.

The long curling pass was perfectly hit, especially considering the conditions. And Murray arrived before Whyman to nod it over the keeper. Adelaide held on for the remaining minutes and earned an opening-day win against a likely top-four opponent.

Adelaide next face Perth Glory. Their defence will be tested against the versatile and creative Glory attack. But with Grove in fine form against Sydney, they will feel confident even on the road.

Sydney will look to rebound against Melbourne Victory. The two clubs are in the unfamiliar position of facing each other after a loss. Nothing but a win will satisfy either manager. Especially in a Grand Final rematch.

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-1-2): Grove, Hodgson (Bowler), Tonkin, Waldus, Hayward, Sasaki, Holmes, Xiao (Murray), Condon (Barbieri), Dawber, Worts (Westland).

Scorer: Murray 87′.

SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Whyman, De La Harpe, Mclean, Tobin, Green, Hunter, Hawkesby, Rule (Stanic-Floody), Ibini, Vine, Evans (Dos Santos).

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello.

Attendance: 1,039.

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