Dark Blues’ Victory Dents WSW Finals Hopes

Melbourne Victory 1-0 Western Sydney Wanderers

By Kieran Yap

Above: Melbourne Victory celebrate Annalie Longo’s goal. Photo: @victorywleague.

On an immaculate pitch, in perfect conditions and in finals bound form, Melbourne Victory and Western Sydney Wanderers played in front of an empty stadium and put on a display of fast, wonderfully chaotic football that would have delighted the crowd had fans been able to attend.

The game was originally scheduled to be played at Lakeside Stadium, but 24 hours from kick-off, the pitch condition at that venue necessitated a late switch to AAMI Park. This was far too late to ensure the necessary Covid-safe regulations would be in place at the 30,050 seater venue of the men’s Victory team.

Victory were without influential attacker Catherine Zimmerman who was nursing a calf niggle following the draw with Canberra and Western Sydney again started Leena Khamis on the bench despite her recent scoring form, with coach Dean Heffernan electing to go with young speedster Bryleeh Henry up front.

Lisa De Vanna looked to be in good touch early, one of her first touches was rolling the ball behind her, between two defenders into the path of Annalie Longo and Victory looked happy to make good use of the AAMI Park surface to stroke the ball around at pace and try and find an opening.

Despite Melbourne having the majority of early possession, it was WSW who fired the first shot in anger, a counter attack and cross by Danika Matos was met by Henry but her shot flew over the bar. Henry looked dangerous early and almost broke away to race in on goal before a backtracking Kyra Cooney-Cross hurried back to recover the ball.  If the Victory prodigy had added defensive steel to her already considerable attacking abilities her powers may soon be complete.

Melina Ayres responded in attack for Melbourne, she controlled a cross into the box on her right foot, shifted it quickly onto her left and got the shot away. It sailed wide but it was a good sign of the strikers instinct and confidence, the right thing to do, and done in a split second.

Melbourne again attacked when De Vanna won the ball on the left flank and after exchanging passes found herself in space with Ayres charging into the middle, a shot on goal looked imminent but Nikola Orgill arrived to put in a well-timed block on the cross.

Is it possible to be awarded “Save Of The Week” for just incredibly good luck?

Sarah Willacy might find out when the round is complete after a corner kick caused havoc in the WSW penalty area and the ball fell to Melina Ayres. She shot from inside the six yard box and Willacy was not only on the ground already but facing the wrong way following a clash of players. The ball somehow missed the crowd of defenders and crashed into Willacy who knew very little of it, but kept the scores level, a moment later she showed off her more conventional goalkeeping talents when she anticipated a Cooney-Cross attempt to score with an attempted Olympico (scoring direct from a corner) from the next flag kick.

Although Victory were doing the majority of the attacking, Western Sydney threatened with the pace of Julie-Anne Russell, Georgia Yeoman-Dale and Teigan Collister on the flanks and they all looked dangerous on the counter-attack when the midfield were able to get the ball to them quickly and again Henry was almost in on goal before a well-timed Kayla Morrison tackle prevented the scoring chance.

Lisa De Vanna was rewarded for her endeavor after she chased down a long ball that Orgill tried to shepherd out of play, she managed to flick the ball back into play and tried to run onto it, both her and Orgill grabbed at each other but the referee decided that De Vanna was being obstructed and awarded the free kick to Melbourne.  Kyra Cooney-Cross drove the free kick into a dangerous area, close to goal but low enough that Willacy couldn’t easily gather, Ayres rose to meet it and the ball fell for Longo to sweep it home from close range and send Victory into half time 1-0 up.

Above: Western Sydney Wanderers’ young starlet Sarah Hunter tussles with Melbourne Victory goal scorer Annalie Longo. Photo: @wsydneywanderers

The Wanderers introduced Khamis after half time and the attack immediately took on a more dangerous shape, her guile and experience was needed to compliment Henry’s pace and provide another target for the visitors’ wingers.

The pace of the game did not decrease in the second half but neither side found many easy chances to score, for that credit has to go to both sets of defenders, with crosses by Matos and Barbieri cut off by Morrison and Orgill for Melbourne and WSW respectively.

Khamis had a difficult chance to level the scores after the otherwise faultless Gabby Garton skied her clearance and it landed 18 yards from goal, Khamis tried to hook it over the scrambling goalkeeper but her effort cleared the crossbar.

Up the other end Lisa De Vanna sped past the Wanderers defense in trademark style and fired a shot from her left foot and forcing Willacy into a strong diving save.

Rosie Galea swiveled curled an attempt on goal for Western Sydney and Cooney-Cross tried to deliver a spectacular sealer from long distance, in both cases the goalkeepers looked concerned but in the shots just whizzed wide.

The unpredictable nature of the game continued until the dying moments, substitute Lia Privitelli raced after a long ball that Willacy was already arriving at, the Wanderers keeper cleared the ball but Privitelli slid after it and with two feet slid straight through her, it was poorly timed and poorly executed and even she looked surprised to only receive a yellow card for it. The saving grace might have been that she did not have studs up and looked to try and tuck in her legs at the last second, but she was lucky to not see red, fortunately Willacy was unharmed but unfortunately for her the game ended in a 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

With that win, Melbourne Victory look almost certain for a top four finish, they play Perth Glory twice in the final games of the season and though they should not take them lightly, they will go in as favourites.

The season is too short for everybody, but it feels particularly true of Western Sydney. They look to be just finding their groove and although they did not get the result on this occasion they have a young brigade of weapons such as Henry, Sarah Hunter, Courtney Nevin and Libby Copus-Brown who are supported by some experienced players. Copus-Brown has been shifted into a deeper midfield role recently and has been increasingly influential. Hopefully they can keep most of this side together and with a few additions can be a threat next season. They are not technically out of it this year, but everything will have to go their way in the following weeks, but as Sarah Willacy’s save showed, a little luck is never out of the question.

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Cooney-Cross, Ayres, Longo, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Markovski, Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis.

Scorer: Longo 43.

WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Yeoman-Dale, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Hunter, Price, Henry, Collister, Russell. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Chauvet, Galea, Halloway, Khamis.

Referee: Georgia Ghiradello.

Attendance: Behind Closed Doors.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

Wroxham Women Podcast

Impetus are very proud of our partnership with Wroxham Women which includes the player sponsorship of defender Harriet Meers.

This week, our founder Ben Gilby joined Harriet and club media officer Darrell Allen in a podcast episode with Stu Barker of Since ’71 – it’s well worth a listen and provides more background on the club and Harriet’s own experiences:


Artwork: Graphics by PW

The Swedish Scene

It’s Saturday, so that can only mean one thing on Impetus, @DandalBs round-up of all the news from the women’s game in Sweden. This week, there’s news from the UEFA Women’s Champions League, lots of pre-season action and a multitude of transfers.

Rosengård are in a precarious position after the first leg of their UEFA Women’s Champions League Last Sixteen tie against St. Pölten. One strike in the second half from Sanne Troelsgaard helped the hosts, but they had to rely on an equaliser from Caroline Seger four minutes into stoppage time at the end of the game saved Rosengård from complete failure.

Above: Caroline Seger, scorer of a late leveller for Rosengård in their UEFA Women’s Champions League this week. Photo: Fotbollskanalen.


In last weekend’s games, Örebro defeated Elitettan (tier two) side Älvsjö 3-0 with two goals from Karin Lundin and one from Jenna Hellstrom.

Newly promoted Hammarby gained a surprise 3-2 win over Kristianstad, who finished third last season. The Stockholm based side built a 3-0 lead thanks to Ellen Wangerheim, Hanna Folkesson and Emma Jansson before Kristianstad hit back through Sveindis Joinsdottir and Jutta Rantala.

Vittsjö defeated Kalmar with 2-1, goals by Bea Persson and Clara Markstedt.

Växjö recorded a resounding 5-0 win over Borgeby who are newly promoted to the Elitettan. Goals by Signe Holt Andersen (2), Mimmi Strömberg (2) and Emma Pennsäter sealed the win.

BK Häcken saw off Eskilstuna United 4-1. Kullberg, Angeldahl, Hammarlund, Blackstenius scored for BK Häcken with Kullashi on target for Eskilstuna. Häcken played very well and scored a couple of good goals.

There was a big 6-0 win for Piteå over Elitettan promotion hopefuls Morön. The goals came courtesy of a Hlin Eiriksdottir hat-trick, with Katrina Guillou adding two and Cajsa Hedlund one.

Eskilstuna United claimed a 4-1 midweek friendly win over Djurgården to continue the Stockholm side’s disastrous pre-season form. Loreta Kullashi (2), Vaila Barsley and Fanny Andersson were on target for Eskilstuna with Tilde Lindwall getting the sole positive from the game for Djurgården.

In a game played yesterday afternoon, Piteå defeated Sundsvall 1-0. Jennie Nordin scored the only goal. After five pre-season matches, Piteå remain undefeated and have not conceded a goal. However, this statistic comes with a caveat. Not a single one of these matches has been against a Damallsvenskan team. This will change on Sunday when they face Hammarby.


Linköping won 3-0 away to IFK Norrköping. Therese Simonsson, Uchenna Grace Kanu, Frida Maanum sealed a comfortable win for Linköping, which earns them a place in Swedish Cup Group One with among others. BK Häcken.


BK Häcken has strengthened their defence further by signing the 23 year-old Dylan Holmes from Adelaide United in the Australian W-League. Holmes has been playing better than ever this season for an Adelaide side who are on the brink of having the best season in their entire history. She is being talked of as a potential future senior Matilda (additional information from Ben Gilby).

Above: Dylan Holmes going for goal for Adelaide United in the W-League against Melbourne City this season. Photo: @AUFCWomen

Rosengård have reported that their Swedish international forward Anna Anvegård hasn’t been able to train or play since mid-January due to an undefined knee problem. She was not be able to play in their Champions League last sixteen first leg tie against St Pölten in midweek.

Djurgården have signed 20 year-old forward Alexandra Takounda Engolo from Cameroon on a one year deal. This is her first club abroad. She has experience from playing internationally for Cameroon’s youth and senior teams.

Vittsjö have announced two new signings this week. First came the arrival of 20 year-old goalkeeper Elin Vaughn on a short-term deal as a backup for Shannon Lynn while waiting for Sabrina D’Angelo to be ready to play. Vaughn comes from nearby third tier IFÖ Bromölla and has been capped for Sweden U19. The second arrival is Filippa Wallén who has been on trial at the club for a short period. Wallén has most recently played for Cypriot champions Apollon Limassol and before that with West Ham United in the FA Women’s Super League.

Above: Filippa Wallén, newly arrived at Vittsjö this week. Photo: Stefan Sandström

Växjö have signed Ena Mujdzic, a 23 year-old midfielder from third tier Böljan on a one year deal after spending some time on trial.

My Footballing Journey So Far…

As part of our partnership with Bure Valley Youth FC, their youngsters are going to be writing regularly for Impetus. Here, Isla from their U9s tells us about her footballing journey so far…

Above: Isla proudly wearing her Bure Valley Youth FC kit, complete with captain’s armband. Photo via: Bure Valley Youth FC.

I first started my journey in football by kicking a ball around with my Dad at the age of two. My love for the sport started here, running around in my Manchester United kit. Then, the next step was Soccer Stars at three years old. Here, I learnt basic football skills like not picking up the ball and running away with it. 

Next, I moved onto Wildcats at age five, where I learnt more about shooting, passing and teamwork. With the Wildcats, I got the opportunity to watch the Under 23’s play at Norwich City’s Carrow Road stadium. I even got to walk out with the team holding the flag, and one of those players was Todd Cantwell.

I was looking for a proper team, that’s when I found Bure Valley FC. This is the team I’m at today. When I first started, I was so shy and had little confidence, but with the encouragement from the coaches and kind teammates, my confidence has grown loads. Amazingly, I was made team Captain for the Under 9’s Kittens, which has been my proudest moment in football so far.

While playing for Bure Valley FC, I also train with Norwich PC on a Tuesday. These sessions have helped me improve my; footwork, accuracy, endurance and confidence.

My hopes and dreams

I hope to play in every age group at Bure Valley FC, and then play for Manchester United and England, just like my heroes Marcus Rashford and Lauren James.

Defending Champions In Less Than Convincing Win

Jean-Pierre Thiesset reports on the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League round of sixteen tie between Olympique Lyonnais and Brondby.

Above: Fans gathering at the Groupama Stadium. Photo via: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

About 20 OL ANG’ELLES fans were at the Groupama Stadium entrance to cheer for Olympique Lyonnais Women team even if the game was not open to public.

Above: Fans welcome the OL Feminin team coach to the Groupama Stadium. Photo via: Jean-Pierre Thiesset.

Lyon at home in the Groupama Stadium, won 2-0 against Brondby. A larger score was expected but despite the fact that the home side largely dominated the Danes (almost 75% possession for Lyon), they were not really efficient (23 shots but only 2 goals). After just six minutes, Brondby almost scored from a free-kick from Nanna Christiansen 18 yards in the centre of the field, which finished on the crossbar while Sarah Bouhaddi, Lyon goalkeeper, was beaten.

Goals for Lyon came from Lionesses star Nikita Parris (30) header at the first post on a cross from Amel Majri from the right side and Melvine Malard (92) on a cross from Janice Cayman from the right side.

So, the job is not completely done and a big game from Lyon in Copenhagen against Brondby will still be necessary to ensure to qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

If the strikers from Lyon were not able to score more, we must point out the great game from Lyon left and right defenders: Sakina Karchaoui, which played 60 minutes as a left midfielder and 30 minutes as left defender after Selma Bacha was replaced; Selma Bacha, which played 73 balls in only 60 minutes on the field; and Ellie Carpenter as right defender, which was elected player of the game. I would like to also highlight the good game of Catarina Macario for her first 60 minutes in UEFA Women Champion League game. We have to note that we saw an encouraging return of Eugénie Le Sommer for the last 30 minutes of the game.

A Chat With Australia’s Top Women’s Football Journalists – How Good?!

Ben Gilby spoke to four of Australia’s leading women’s football journalists who also present The Far Post Podcast. Sam Lewis (Guardian Australia), Anna Harrington (AAP Newswire), Angela Christian-Wilkes (Beyond 90 AU) and Marissa Lordanic (Beyond 90 AU) talk to him about their show and how they view the domestic and international game in Australia right now.

We opened the chat by discussing how the podcast came about. “The four of us came together as part of a larger group of friends who all went to the Women’s World Cup together in France 2019. But we’re all lifelong football fans. We’ve all covered the game as volunteers and for media organisations. We’ve written hundreds of articles between us for print and online, covered major tournaments, commentated matches, appeared on radio and TV and other podcasts to talk about and analyse the women’s game.”

“The podcast began in the middle of Melbourne’s lockdown as a little bit of a joke. Thankfully a few people encouraged us to actually pursue it. We had a few zoom meetings about how we wanted to approach things and have been recording almost weekly since September 2020.”

“At its heart it’s a football podcast. We’re a bunch of friends who also happen to be fans of the game. We love talking about the action on the pitch, having a laugh at the lighter moments, and trying to add nuance and analysis to matters on and off the field. There’s an absolute abundance of podcasts on football, especially men’s football, but fewer on women’s football and even fewer still with an Australian focus. It’s the kind of podcast we’d all like to listen to so we went ahead and made it.”

Despite football having to compete with Aussie Rules, Rugby League and Cricket, the Matildas and their stars are loved and have a pretty high profile in Australia. I wondered how the Far Post crew could explain this profile: “Support from the public is always a little dependent on being successful and since the 2015 Women’s World Cup when the Matildas became the first senior Australian team to win a knockout game at the tournament, people have taken notice of them. The team has played good football and has always been filled with incredible players, but women’s sport globally was starting to have a moment and Australia and football were no different. The team was so good you couldn’t ignore them and once the public got to know them and fell in love with them it’s continued to grow.”

Whilst it’s great that so many Matildas are now playing for top clubs around the world, I wondered what their feeling was on the positives and negatives are of the situation on domestic Australian women’s club football. 

“We’ve kind of gone through the full gamut of emotions with the Matildas exodus,” the Far Post group said. “There was so much worry and anxiety about how the W-League would fare in those early stages from all of us. And for the most part it was valid. The general belief was how can we attract fans when all those big names that the general public will recognise aren’t there? What is the standard of football going to be like without the very best Australian players?”

“But as we got closer to the season and now in the season proper I think the community as a whole has realised this is overall a good thing. There are so many more opportunities for young players who had perhaps previously only been making substitute appearances or fighting for a place. Now they not only have the opportunity to shine but the responsibility to make the big plays and be the game changers for their teams and so far they’re absolutely delivering in spades.”

“It’s a shame that we arguably never fully utilised the star power of the likes of Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley but we’re beginning to see the emergence of new stars. If we continue to give them the strongest possible platform here in Australia – a professional league with a full home and away season – they will continue to showcase their talent. The football has still been good and exciting even if it isn’t filled with the names and faces so many people are instantly familiar with.”

This season’s W-League campaign has produced some hugely enjoyable football and things are quite open at the top and bottom of the table. The focus for the W-League now is to keep attention high for supporters and the general media with home World Cup ahead. The Far Post’s views on what needs to be done to achieve this is exceptionally important.

“The league itself has been doing a great job first and foremost with making sure we have a season to enjoy! The permutations with Covid and borders has meant it’s been a real logistical nightmare. But the league and the players and the clubs and everyone else involved have been adaptable to their immense credit.”

“There has been some great content produced highlighting the players to watch and the storylines that are emerging from the season. Broadcasting has been a bit of an issue and it’s a topic we’ve covered extensively on the podcast. It’s pretty much universally acknowledged that growing the game involves people being able to watch it and that hasn’t always been the case this season. A functioning, high quality broadcast should be the minimum standard now in the W-League.”

“How the game is broadcast is massively important. Making it accessible has been achieved thanks to every game being available to stream and the one game a week on free to air. There needs to be more coverage generally but engaging with the media that is currently out there shows the people in charge that there is an appetite for more of this kind of coverage. This means not only reading and sharing the work of the major sports media companies but engaging with the passionate and dedicated fan-made media too.”

Above: Captured during the recording of an episode – Top left: Sam Lewis (The Guardian Australia), Top right: Anna Harrington (AAP Newswire), Bottom Left: Angela Christian-Wilkes (Beyond ’90 AU) and Bottom Right: Marissa Lordanic (Beyond ’90 AU).

In terms of where the W-League goes next, one of the priorities has to be a full home and away season, given the inherent unfairness of the current schedule. “People have wanted a full home and away season forever. You ask anyone associated with the game about how to improve the W-League and one of the first things they will mention is extending the season,” the Far Post gang told me.

“The league has improved in so many ways – minimum remuneration and medical standards have been brought in, the league is more visible that it has ever been thanks to streaming services. The next logical steps in that continued growth is a full home and away season and a fully professional league. Covid has thrown a spanner in the works in so many ways, including financially, but a full home and away season should be a priority for the new independent leagues.”

One of the major plus points of this year’s W-League campaign is the emergence of some fantastic talent. Whereas the likes of Kyra Cooney-Cross, Jamilla Rankin and Jada Whyman-Mathyssen has caught the eye of Impetus so far, I wondered who the stand out players for The Far Post group are:

“There are so many good players with so many interesting stories to look out for. Kyra Cooney-Cross at Melbourne Victory has grown into this super dynamic midfielder since she debuted at the age of fifteen (and she’s still in her teens!). There’s players jumping up from the NPLW competitions (elite state leagues) across the country like Catherine Zimmerman and Mariel Hecher. Teagan Micah is a Matilda but has spent most of her career in the US college system so we’re being treated to her spectacular efforts in goal. Emily Condon and Dylan Holmes are doing good things at Adelaide United. Lily Alfeld has been awesome for Perth Glory. Tara Andrews and Michelle Heyman are by no means new to the W-League but their golden boot battle is going to be fascinating. Is it too late to say all of them?”

At the other end of the spectrum are vastly experienced players who are absolutely smashing it at the moment – led by Michelle Heyman and Lisa De Vanna. “How good! They are just two of the amazing stories in the W-League this season. Michelle is looking to chase down Sam Kerr’s all-time W-League goal scoring record and Lisa is showing us all just how excellent she is and has always been.”

The next three years is potentially really exciting for the Matildas with the Olympics, Asia Cup and World Cup. I asked the Far Post gang what they felt would success in this period realistically look like.

“It’s a huge three years and when you add in the 2024 Olympics in Paris it’s even bigger! We can’t look too far ahead and we also need to take into account how Covid has changed the entire landscape and factor that into the definition of success.”

“We still don’t have a full complement of countries qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. The Matildas last played a competitive match in March 2020, the USWNT have played three games in that time with another three lined up for February. European teams were taking part in Euro qualifiers throughout 2020.”

Without looking too far ahead, bettering the 2016 Olympics result will be a priority for this year. Similarly going one better in the Asian Cup in 2022 will also be super important. After winning the 2010 edition, the Matildas have lost the last two Asian Cup finals to Japan 1-0 so reclaiming that trophy – and maybe even getting one over Japan – would be great.”

With the next Women’s World Cup being co-hosted in Australia, we ended our discussion by talking about what the legacy for the competition should be in Australian women’s football.

“Every Women’s World Cup has grown from the one before it and the benefits to the host nations are well documented. We as Australians also know that hosting big tournaments is a massive deal and is sure to inspire the next generation of kids.”

“A lasting legacy for this tournament encompasses all levels of football. The Matildas doing well on the pitch would obviously be awesome. In turn, the W-League needs to prioritised and professionalised so it can truly reach its full potential as the place where Matildas are made. Women in this country will hopefully be able to play football professionally right here in their own backyards. Grassroots clubs will hopefully be using the next few years to increase their capacities and upgrade their facilities to ensure the influx of interest post-World Cup can be met”

“Everyone who wants to get involved after witnessing the Women’s World Cup here should be able to whether that is as a player, a coach, or a ref. It will also hopefully inspire more people – especially women – to get involved in governance, the media, and the admin side of the game. Plus fans should be able to enjoy even more quality football after getting to enjoy a month’s worth of the very best football on the planet.”

A new episode of The Far Post Podcast drops every Wednesday and can be found here: The Far Post (buzzsprout.com). They can also be found on Twitter: @TheFarPostPod

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

Kyra Cooney-Cross: The Sky Is The Limit

In our latest #MidweekDub feature, we focus on Kyra Cooney-Cross. The Melbourne Victory starlet has just turned nineteen years-old and is firmly established as one of the biggest hopes among the next generation of Australian women footballers. Kieran Yap profiles Melbourne Victory’s youngster who is almost certainly to become a Matilda in the very near future.

Above: Kyra Cooney-Cross has been in outstanding form for Melbourne Victory in the W-League this season. Here, she is in action for them against Brisbane Roar. Photo: @victorywleague

It was her debut season, she was up against the star-studded Melbourne City and was directly facing Alanna Kennedy. The 15-year-old Melbourne Victory attacker gathered the ball, knocked it forward fearlessly and exploded past the Matildas defender, she held off the physical challenge and shot on goal. Unfortunately the strike was saved, but Australia had gotten its first hint of what Kyra Cooney-Cross was capable of.

She signed for Melbourne Victory in 2017, and made sixteen appearances for the club scoring twice before departing to Western Sydney Warriors in search of more game time for the 2019/20 competition.

Above: During her spell for Western Sydney Wanderers last season. Photo: @wsydneywanderers

In her time there she added to her growing highlight reel and developed into a more consistent player.

A brilliant curling shot to score from outside the area and an audacious back heel to set up a Kristen Hamilton goal were just two of the efforts that made her nomination for the W-League Young Footballer of the Year a no-brainer.

Her return to Melbourne Victory has seen her take on more responsibility in the team. In her first stint at the club she was used sparingly and often off the bench but in 2021 she has started every game and been vital to the midfield and attack.

She has gone from being a quick striker or winger to a player who is increasingly dominating games and threatening the opposition off either flank or through the centre. She has become a player that the opposition cannot ignore but has the mobility and work rate to be almost impossible to mark out of the game.

Above: Kyra Cooney-Cross pictured with Rosie Galea whilst playing with Blacktown Spartans in the New South Wales NPLW (state league).
Photo: Women’s National Premier League New South Wales.

Cooney-Cross is a clever, quick and inventive attacker, she can finish chances as well as she can supply them and is dangerous from set pieces, in the 2019/20 season she scored her first goal for WSW with a free kick, an in-swinging curling ball into a dangerous area that caused panic in the box and bounced past the keeper.

Melbourne Victory have surrounded their returning prodigy with talent and experience, she is supported by Lisa De Vanna and Melina Ayres in attack with Annalie Longo, Amy Jackson and defender Angie Beard behind her. The team may not be specifically built around her but she has been given the support to play her natural game and has increasingly become the barometer for her side’s fortunes.

Cooney-Cross has the pace to dribble past players and the ball control to do this in the middle of the pitch making her an unpredictable and entertaining player to watch.  Her goal against Newcastle Jets in round seven this season was a perfect encapsulation what makes her special, not so much for the finish which was from an angle and off her non-preferred left foot but for how she had a quick glance up for a better option before scoring. In this piece of play she showed the speed to burn off the challenges, the skill to carry the ball at pace, the vision to assess her options and the class to finish perfectly.

Despite not yet breaking into the senior Matildas side, she has been a fixture for the youth teams, scoring an incredible 14 goals in as many games at Under-17 level and seven times over eight appearances at for the Under-20’s, she was included in a training squad prior to the 2019 World Cup and although she didn’t make the final squad for France, on current form a full international cap surely awaits.  

Above: Kyra Cooney-Cross in action for Australia in the Asian U19’s Championship. Photo: Wikipedia.

At her age and with her talent she is simultaneously a star player of the league and one to watch for the future, consistent, inventive and often spectacular Kyra Cooney-Cross could hopefully become the next big thing in Australian Football.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

International Surrey Women’s Football: Offering Opportunities & Breaking Down Barriers

At the weekend, it was announced that Impetus were sponsoring the coaches polo shirts for the International Surrey Women’s Football (ISWF) team. But what is the ISWF? Ben Gilby chats to Danny Clarke, president of International Surrey Football (ISF) about their women’s representative team which they aim to launch later this year to play against other counties and potentially non FIFA teams. We also discuss what their selection process involves and their aims over the medium term future.

The International Surrey Football women’s team is a newly established entity which was launched in order to try and bring more county representative football to Surrey.

Clarke outlined more about the ISF: “The International Surrey Football women’s team is the second team launched by International Surrey Football (ISF), organisers of the only county representative football team for Surrey. I founded the team as a means of promoting Surrey’s local footballers to a new platform and providing them a means of facing new opportunities away from just club football.”

“Historically men and women’s county football was fairly commonplace in the early 20th century, and the Surrey FA organised many teams to play against other county FAs, but as time went on there had been gradually fewer and fewer teams, under the FAs umbrella, less than a dozen of the FA’s fifty-one county FAs organise county women’s teams, a similar number organise Under 18 and Under 16 county teams, and only a handful organise senior men’s teams, with only the three military FAs, Army, Air Force, Navy as well as the Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man organising teams for every category. This has left a large number of counties without representative football opportunities for players once they leave school (where under 18s and below is organised by the English Schools FA). Especially in Surrey’s case, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Middlesex, and the neighbouring Army FA all organise women’s representative teams, meaning we’re virtually surrounded by potential opposition we’re not yet tapping into.”

“International Surrey Football was created as a means to bridge that gap, with an aim of providing these inter-county football opportunities for players. We don’t get involved in club football activities, and we don’t have any plans to organise our own club competitions or offer a club affiliation that might conflict with the work of the Surrey County FA, it’s not in our interest to work against the Surrey County FA, but instead aim to work with them with the hope of being able to eventually reach an agreement with the Surrey County FA to enter teams into the Southern Counties Competition, for senior county women’s teams and the FA County Youth Cup, for county youth teams. However, we also have other ambitions to compete in non-FIFA (international football outside FIFA’s umbrella) competitions in order to provide even greater competitive opportunities for our senior men and women’s teams.”

In terms of which levels of the women’s football pyramid system the ISF would be looking at in terms of potential players, Danny Clarke is keeping their options open: “We don’t restrict players based on level from signing up to be selected, although the manager will get a final say to decide which players are actually selected for each game. Players of any level are welcome to make themselves available for selection by signing up on our website, we’ve had interest from players from AFC Wimbledon, Woking, Whyteleafe, Dorking Wanderers, Millwall, Alton Town, Molesey, the University of Surrey and more.”

In terms of how widely known within Surrey the ISF are, it is very much early days, but awareness is growing: “By this stage most teams in Surrey are at least aware of us and what we’re doing,” Danny said.

Above: Impetus are proud to be able to sponsor the coaching staff’s polo shirts for the International Surrey Women’s Football Team. Graphic via ISF.

“Some teams we have closer relations with than others and we aim to make ourselves as a benefit, not a hindrance, to club football. We encourage players to prioritise club football where necessary and try to limit how often, if at all, we play during the season. We then actively try to promote clubs to a new audience through our growing social media, going to games, sponsoring matches where possible, and working with clubs when organising our games making ourselves a potential new revenue source for teams that host our home games, especially important given the financial situation many teams have found themselves in this past year.”

I asked Danny whether the ISF Women’s team would potentially be limiting itself to fellow county representative sides. His reply suggests that the county could be looking at opposition from near and far: “Surrey’s opposition will likely fall into one of three categories, clubs, our trial game is expected to be against a club side, this is a good starting point for the team as it means we’ll have plenty of potential opportunity in this category without having to travel as far as we would against teams of the other two categories, it can also help us promote our existence to more teams, players and even fans. Another category would be County FAs, our hope is to eventually be playing regularly against other County FAs. Some of the nearest full fixture opposition for us would be county teams, with the Army FA, Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Middlesex all on Surrey’s border, as well as the island teams of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man, all theoretically within reach due to existing flight routes from Gatwick and Heathrow. Finally, the third category and perhaps our highest profile opposition, is non-FIFA teams. These are international teams outside FIFA and could be members of the World Unity Football Alliance like us or members of CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations), although teams that are members of these organisations are more likely to be based overseas currently, with no member of either organisation currently running a women’s team in the UK, we hope the formation of the Surrey women’s team might encourage teams to expand with multiple teams having senior men’s teams based in the UK.”

The coronavirus outbreak has pushed back the first potential game for the Surrey women’s side as Clarke reveals: “At the start of 2020 we partnered with our main sponsors Merrist Wood College, based near Guildford, with the hope of running our first trial game in May 2020, but due to COVID-19, this has been repeatedly pushed back. However, encouraging signs are pointing that an early 2021 trial game is very likely as long as we get the green light of Surrey and Greater London being moved out of Tier 4 into Tier 3 or below. The trial game would see the team play its first game behind closed doors against a club side opposition, we’ll then be aiming to play a game in front of fans in the early summer 2021, details to be confirmed. Our men’s team however which launched in 2018 has played 4 games between 2018 and 2019 against Barawa, the Army FA, and twice against the Chagos Islands.”

The ISF has a coaching staff already in place to start the women’s player selection process, with Danny Clarke identifying them: “The coaching staff is lead by our Director of Women’s Football, John O’Brien, who helped to appoint manager Stephen Statterly and assistant manager Leah Ambridge are responsible for the team. John has a UEFA B license, Futsal Level 2 Goalkeeper Level 2. He has worked with Aldershot Town Youth academy, Arsenal in the Community and spent time coaching in Italy, plus the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire FA Girls Development Centre, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire FA Disability Talent Identification Centre and was Maidenhead United Lead Community Coach and Reading Women’s Reserves Assistant Manager.”

“Stephen has fifteen years of coaching including a UEFA B license. He was Aldershot Town’s Youth Academy coach for three years and was an adult disability coach for three years including two years as the lead disability coach for Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. In addition, he has coached at grassroots level for women’s, men’s and youth football, and 3 years coaching with Bracknell Town youth.”

Above: The International Surrey Women’s Football team shirt. Photo: Ben Gilby.

“Leah has nineteen years of coaching experience, including working with two professional clubs, Watford and QPR boys academy. She managed Hampton and Richmond Borough Ladies for three seasons and has coached at grassroots level for fifteen years and is UEFA B qualified, with work for the FA as a safeguarding tutor.”

In terms of the potential selection and scouting process for women to play for the ISF women’s side, Clarke said: “We operate eligibility criteria similar to what players may expect from international football. Players will need to fall into one of three categories to be eligible for selection, either they were born in Surrey, this can include areas that are considered historical Surrey because they were part of the county of Surrey before 1889 when the county of London was first created using areas of Surrey, Kent, Essex, and Middlesex. Some examples of these historic areas include Southwark, Croydon, Wimbledon, Wandsworth, Lambeth, Clapham, and many more areas which are now part of Greater London. Players with parents or grandparents from these same areas of Surrey are also eligible, and finally, players who may not have been born in Surrey, but now live in Surrey and represented any Surrey-based club at a youth level for at least one season are also eligible.”  

Post coronavirus, I asked Danny what the ISF women’s team schedule would look like. “A full schedule for us would ideally aim to include up to six friendlies, likely spread across the season with some games after the season has finished and followed by a tournament. Typically training would be focused on preparing for tournaments rather than individual friendlies, however, this will be lead more by the players and coaches rather than by the admin side of ISF.”

“There are currently no non-FIFA women’s tournaments, but one of our main ambitions is to participate in a non-FIFA tournament, perhaps even establishing our own to fill the void if other organisations aren’t able to do so, but we’re not aiming to overcrowd a player’s schedule, or that of club football by scheduling a large number of games. We may also look at more ambitious targets including overseas tours involving multiple games as many non-FIFA women’s teams are currently based overseas and not in the UK, but this is something that would need to be looked into before we actively pursued it as we don’t currently have the budget to offer such a great opportunity.”

In terms of the immediate future, I wondered what Danny’s aims were for the ISF women’s team in 2021: “Our main plans in 2021 are to get the team finally together and hit the ground running with some early fixture opportunities with our trial game and our first full debut in front of fans. This would be our minimum target, covering two games, but if we could build on this with additional games we would, but aren’t yet actively arranging any more than these initial games at the moment.”

In terms of the slightly longer term future, “Our primary focus once the team is up and running will be influenced by what the players want us to do,” said Danny.

Above: Putting pride into the shirt – the Surrey International Women’s Football team shirt. Photo: Ben Gilby.

“We doubt we’ll be able to convince the Surrey FA to allow us to participate in the Southern Counties Competition any time soon, but we’d like to see more women’s teams like ours take to the pitch, both expansions of existing men’s teams like Yorkshire, Kernow (Cornwall), or others, and even other independent county teams like us and even look at creating a new regional federation of county teams specifically to help our women’s team to play more games and participate in more localised tournaments, but we’d also like to take the team overseas and play some of the other existing women’s teams not based in the UK like Karen, Darfur, and Matabeleland, based in the US and Africa, but this would be more heavily reliant on sponsors and funding compared to more localised options.”

Danny was delighted to be able to announce the sponsorship deal that sees Impetus branded polo shirts for the International Surrey Women’s Football team’s coaches. He said: “The support of Impetus as part of this sponsorship will help to enhance the work of the Surrey women’s coaching staff with polos that will help them to stand out clearly when working with players and clubs across Surrey. The logo will be seen across Surrey’s website, in our match programmes from our first full home debut and at games, training and more.”

This story looks like having some exciting twists and turns to follow in 2021, and it is one we will be following closely on Impetus.

The View From France

Jean-Pierre Thiesset rounds up all the action from the fifteenth week of action in D1 Arkema, French women’s football’s top flight.

Paris St. Germain won 4-0 at home against Issy. PSG are still league leaders, one point ahead of Lyon. Goals from Luana (12), Kadidiatou Diani (85, 87), and Marie-Antoinette Katoto (89). Issy was able to keep up the suspense during most of the game even if PSG dominated the game, but PSG scored three goals in four minutes at the end.

Olympique Lyonnais won away from home 2-0 against Soyaux. Goals for Lyon from Saki Kumagai (27) and Dzsenifer Marozsan (87 penalty); the penalty was won by Sakina Karchaoui who came on as a substitute in the 58th minute. Once again it was not really an easy game for Lyon, who dominated, but found it hard to score despite creating numerous chances. Soyaux came very close to scoring after 64 minutes on a counterattack.

Bordeaux won at home against Dijon 6-0. Bordeaux largely dominated the game and shut down Dijon by scoring quickly 2 goals (6 and 7). Goal from Maëlle Garbino (6, 7 and 25), Khadija Shaw (62 and 72), and Claire Lavogez (80). With this win, Bordeaux secures its third place being now eight points ahead of Montpellier and with a game in hand.

Above: Mary Fowler – 18 years-old, four Matildas caps and a first goal in D1 Arkema for Montpellier. Photo: The Guardian.

Montpellier at home against Dijon was not able to do better than a draw 1-1. Goals for Dijon by Shnia Demetrice Gordan (45) and for Montpellier by 18 year-old Matilda’s starlet Mary Fowler (66). By losing two points at home Montpellier allows Bordeaux to be now 8 points ahead of them. I guess that the third place is definitely lost for Montpellier even if there are still seven games to play.

The surprise of this round comes from Reims who won away from home against Fleury (2-1) ending a run of three straight defeats. Goals for Fleury by Cecilie Sandvej (24) and for Reims by Melissa Gomes (44) and Kessya Busy (58).

Paris FC and Guingamp were not able to score and finished 0-0. The D1 ARKEMA table now looks like this:

Points Shared Does Neither Side Any Favours

Canberra United 1–1 Melbourne Victory

By Kieran Yap.

Only two points separated the sides as Canberra United in fifth visited fourth placed Melbourne Victory in hopes of leapfrogging them on the ladder and a win for either team would be a massive boost to their finals hopes.

Victory began the game on the front foot, the attack of De Vanna, Zimmerman and Ayres looking mobile and lively from the kick-off. Canberra had an early shot on goal by Grace Maher but it was Victory who took the lead before 10 minutes.

Angie Beard, who has been consistently dangerous and versatile down the left flank this season, received the ball out wide, one-on-one with young defender Jessika Nash. She dropped her shoulder and lifted the ball, skipping past the challenge and into space. Beard looked up and hit the ball high towards goal, it somehow bounced off the underside of the crossbar and over the line for a spectacular opener by the Victory captain. Whether she intended to score directly or was aiming for a teammate makes very little difference, it was great wing-play and a deadly ball in. The only player more shocked than Beard was Keely Richards in goal who seemed to assume the ball was going over the bar before it somehow dipped under.

Above: Angie Beard celebrates her goal for Melbourne Victory. Photo: @victorywleague

Victory continued their dominance, Lisa De Vanna tried hooking a shot on her left foot that Richards was equal to and Amy Jackson in her record breaking sixty-seventh Victory game and wearing the armband for the day hit an effort over the bar.

De Vanna again was a threat when she raced behind the defenders but Kendall Fletcher did very well to block the shot and Kyra Cooney-Cross tried her luck with an optimistic long distance strike that had Richards back peddling frantically but flew wide.

The home side was dominant in general play and Canberra looked unable to enjoy any meaningful possession of the ball, but their defence withstood Victory’s best efforts. Claudia Bunge saw her header flash wide and a Lisa De Vanna goal seemed certain when she shaped to round Keely Richards until the goalkeeper calmly took the ball off her with a perfect tackle 20 yards from goal.

While Victory struggled to convert their chances, Canberra took theirs, seconds before the half time whistle Michelle Heyman played the ball to Bianca Galic who only needed one touch to put Nickoletta Flannery into space behind the defence. The speedster struck it sweetly, low and into the bottom corner without breaking stride, a perfectly taken goal to level the scores.

The second half was a more even contest, both teams went in search of a winner Amy Jackson created an early chance for De Vanna who was denied by Richards again with a strong near post save from close range.

Flannery played with confidence, her pace was a constant menace to the Victory defenders and after running at a back peddling Bunge and Morrison she shot from the edge of the box but Garton was untroubled.  Heyman tried from a similar position, her shot was hit with more power but missed the target.

Above: Melbourne Victory’s Tiffany Eliadis (2) tussels with Canberra United’s Michelle Heyman. Photo: @victorywleague

Victory were still enjoying space down the flanks and their best chances were coming from crosses, Polly Doran’s cross from the right looked destined for Annalie Longo at the goal mouth but Kendall Fletcher was able to intercept the ball.  Canberra continued to test Garton from long range with a Galic missile just fizzing over the bar and Laura Hughes bouncing a shot just wide.

As the game edged towards the 90th minute Longo had the chance to win it after she twisted into a shooting position close to goal, Richards put out a glove to provide a strong instinctive save and the ball bounced across the face where Lisa De Vanna lurked. She charged at the ball to tap into an empty net but Jessika Nash reacted quickest to clear off the line and ensure a valuable point on the road for Canberra United.

Melbourne Victory have a short wait to get those three points, they host Western Sydney Warriors on Thursday night and they will be hoping Catherine Zimmerman is fit after going off in the first half of this game.

Canberra defended well and although they were undone early by a freak of a goal they fought their way back into the contest against an in form side.  Next week they face the fearsome attack of Brisbane Roar, their season is still very much alive but they will need to be at their best for the final few matches.

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Cooney-Cross, Zimmerman, De Vanna, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Longo, Markovski, Privitelli, Eliadis.

Scorers: Beard 9.

CANBERRA UNITED: Richards, Nash, Ilijoski, Keir, Fletcher, Galic, Flannery, Maher, Hughes, Koulizakis, Heyman. Substitutes: James (GK), Goldstein, Grove, Satchell, Taylor-Young.

Scorers: Flannery 45+2.

Referee: Kelly Jones.

Attendance: 562.

Sydney FC980124824+16
Brisbane Roar954021619+15
Adelaide United8513151316+3
Melbourne Victory8422161214+4
Canberra United8332131312=
Western Sydney Wanderers931581710-9
Newcastle Jets811610164-6
Melbourne City81167184-11
Perth Glory60144151-11

Top four sides qualify for the finals at the end of the regular season.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.