Ahead of this weekend’s matches, Ben Gilby, Denise Duffy, and Ryan Miller-Woods report the views of head coaches and players around the A-League Women (21/1/23).
by Ben Gilby
Adelaide United host Melbourne Victory tomorrow with head coach Adrian Stenta determined that his side will end their winless run which stretches to four matches.
The South Australians’ last win came on 17th December when they won 1-0 at Wellington Phoenix. Since then, they suffered three straight defeats, failing to score on each occasion, before claiming a 1-1 draw at Brisbane Roar last weekend.
Reflecting on his team’s performance in Queensland, Stenta felt that there were signs that things were moving in the right direction. “There were a few positives. We felt like we could make some strong chances and we scored one as well. We came back from being a goal down on the road as well, considering the rough run that we’ve been on too. We finished the game strongly, which is a good sign of our conditioning.”
With his team having a full week of preparation ahead of this weekend’s visit from Melbourne Victory, the Reds’ boss outlined the focus that he and his staff have been doing in the lead-up to the match.
“It has been good to get more tactical work (done) ahead of a tough game against Melbourne Victory. We expect them to come here and be up for the fight. We need to match their intensity and effort if we are going to get something from the game.”
Tomorrow’s match sees two sides strongly backed to finish in the top four in the midst of a sticky run of form. The defending champions are on a run of three straight draws, and Stenta knows that Jeff Hopkins’ team will be as keen as his own side to get back to winning ways.
“They are a very experienced side with good players, experienced players at every level. They are well-coached and difficult to score against. We feel like there are areas we can exploit though, to gain an advantage.”
The media conference concluded with some positive news in terms of returnees from injury, with the Adelaide United boss revealing: “Katie Bowler and Jenna McCormick are both in with a chance of coming back. They could have returned last week but with the closeness of games, it was harder (for them). We’re hopeful they will be able to play a part in the game tomorrow.”
Click on this link to read Ryan Miller-Woods‘ coverage of yesterday’s article featuring the media conference with Michelle Heyman and Emily Roach: https://impetusfootball.org/2023/01/19/heyman-on-return-of-flannery-and-the-threat-of-wellington/
by Ben Gilby
Melbourne City head coach Dario Vidosic is looking for his team to learn the lessons from the last time they played Western Sydney Wanderers for tomorrow’s return game between the sides.
With the previous encounter just 12 days ago ending in a 2-0 win for the Wanderers, Vidocic is well aware of what went wrong that time and what his players need to do in order to put it right.
“We’re a young team, and it felt like we wanted to put the result to bed. Everyone knew we had three games, they are a dangerous team to play at Wanderers and the table wasn’t a fair reflection (of them). We forced the issue too much. We’ve looked at it and we’ve learned from it.”
That result kicked off a superb run for Western Sydney, which has seen them subsequently become the first side to defeat Western United, and then claim a draw against defending champions Melbourne Victory. The City boss recognises that: “They have momentum and some dominance. We’ll just look to put right what we didn’t do last time (against them).”
Sarina Bolden has been a key part of the Wanderers revival, and Vidosic admitted that his side were not as well prepared to nullify her threats as they might have been. But it is a mistake they will not repeat.
“We watched a bit of her (in action) for the Philippines, but there wasn’t too much footage. She’s a good player, quality, that we know we have to be aware of. If we can dominate the game, then we can eliminate that threat. If we are careless with the ball, then it becomes a problem.
“When you play teams the first team the first time it’s harder as you’re not sure how they will match up against you. This time, especially Western Sydney when we played them not long ago (12 days), it’s different…you have a good understanding of what they want to do…our biggest focus is on ourselves. We want to play our style and keep developing that style.”
Vidosic then touched on his side’s possession-based game which has been hugely successful in their progress – but he now wants them to maintain those percentages, but in more offensive areas.
“I don’t want us to have 70 or 80% of possession around our penalty area, it’s now about increasing the amount of time we play in the opponents’ top third of the pitch…we want to get better now. It’s not easy to want to receive the ball under pressure. I want the team to want the ball and want to play, and I can’t fault the players in that respect this year. How we play is how we train.”
The City boss also revealed that player availability is good for the encounter: “Everyone is available with the exception of Holly (McNamara) and Cote (Rojas). Cote is with the Chile squad for their World Cup play-offs. Holly and Cote should be back and available for the period around 3rd or 4th March.”
Emma Checker is determined that Melbourne City have all the structures in place to ensure there will be no repeat of the “off day” that saw them defeated the last time they faced Western Sydney Wanderers.
Speaking to the media today, the Matilda said: “We didn’t show up in the way we wanted. We want to be a team that doesn’t have an off day. Our performance wasn’t to the standard that we set ourselves or the way we trained for the game. That is not our normal baseline and if we show up to our best, we have full confidence in what we will bring. The reality is a good team bounces back from that and we did.”
Checker has recently returned to the City starting line-up after a combination of a knee injury and COVID – a period that she admits finding exceptionally tough.
“It’s been hard. I had to go back to basics, so its been mentally hard (too). I was ready to come back and then I tested positive (for COVID). A positive was that it gave me a chance to get my knee to a greater strength than it would have been otherwise.”
Asked whether it was even more frustrating being a spectator when her side were winning so many matches, the defender replied: “I’d rather be on the sidelines while (we)… are winning. It also showed the great strength in depth we had. We had a few players missing, but others came in (and we kept winning). For me, it was really pleasing the other girls in the team who got opportunities rise to the challenge and prove we have more than 11 who are good enough to play.”
As to the development of her side’s playing style this season, Checker reflected the views of head coach Dario Vidosic stating: “One of our greatest strengths is our ball retention. It’s great to keep the ball, but you also have to score. However, the more you have the ball, the less energy you use.”
If City can maximise ball retention tomorrow, this and their overwhelming desire to right the wrongs of their last performance against the Wanderers, could go to make it a hard 90 minutes for Kat Smith’s New South Wales side.
by Denise Duffy
As the Wellington Phoenix prepare for this weekend’s matchup against Canberra United on Sunday, current captain Chloe Knott and Michaela Foster reflected with the media on where they are as a club and how they are going to get their first win.
“We work so hard in the background to play a style of football and, every training session, we’re getting closer and closer. I think every game, we’re getting closer, I think we have hiccups here and there. But, I still trust what we’re trying to do. And I think at one point it is all gonna come together and we’ll put in a full 90-minute performance. We won’t let in silly goals. And we’ll score some hopefully too soon.” said Knott.
The midfielder has become more comfortable and confident in her role on the team. She enjoys her leadership role, and her mentality has developed during her time as a professional player. “I’m making sure I’m trusting the process, and still sticking to what I’ve been told to do, and trusting what we’re doing. I think that’s been really important for me.”
Foster, who originally joined the team as a scholarship player has played every minute of the season. She admits that the team has been challenged in the first couple of months of the season but they are determined to keep pushing and improving.
“It’s been tough, I think seven games now and only getting one point from it. But in saying that, we know that we can get points. And we know that we’ve let something slip. It’s kind of our own fault that we’ve maybe lost some of those points in some of the games. But we have so many great moments in every single game.
“It’s just kind of putting more of those into each game and for 90 minutes. And I think getting that draw (against Western Sydney Wanderers), that first point kind of lifted us up a little bit. And obviously, we want three points. And we know that it’ll come. We just got to kind of keep putting those puzzle pieces back together a little bit.”
In team news, midfielder Betsy Hassett will be returning to the squad after training and playing for the Football Ferns this past Wednesday against the USA.