Above: Action from yesterday’s game between Norwich City and AFC Wimbledon. Photo: Emily Topping.
AFC Wimbledon left Norfolk disappointed after a draw away against Norwich City after the hosts levelled at the death in the tier four FA Women’s National League Division One South-East yesterday.
A soaring headed goal by birthday celebrant and captain Hannah Billingham was not enough, as the Canaries scored a last-minute equaliser to deny the visitors all three points.
The weather continued to cause havoc with fixtures across the country, but with this game being played at Norwich City’s The Nest, with a 4G pitch, it was one of the few going ahead.
Going into the game, AFC Wimbledon we had only played one game in the last six weeks and lacked the clinical edge that had served them well before the winter break, and so the South-West Londoners failed to capitalise on several good opportunities.
Neither team managed to get a hold of the game in the first half, but both had opportunities to test the keepers. Ashlee Hincks had stand-in City keeper Jess Harper make several saves, and Norwich’s Kathryn Stanley forced Faye Baker into producing the save of the day from a close-range effort.
The Dons nearly took the lead 25 minutes into the game, as Steph Mann fired off a left-footed shot from long range, but the City keeper managed to get her palms to it.
It looked as though the first half would end goalless, but in the ninth minute of injury time, Emma Plewa sent a cross into the box which Billingham perfectly headed into the Norwich goal.
The second half saw a much more dominant Dons. Emily Donovan looked set to double the visitors’ lead, before her shot was scrambled off the line by a City defender on the hour mark. The Norwich keeper then denied Hincks a chance to extend the lead 75 minutes into the game.
In the 89th minute, Wimbledon were made to pay for not taking advantage of the chances, as Norwich’s Natasha Snelling scored an equaliser after a goalmouth scramble. The hosts came close to stealing all three points in injury time, but were denied by an outstanding goal-line clearance from Kelly Highman.
Speaking after the game, Dons’ manager Kevin Foster said: “I think the first half showed we haven’t had games. We have had one game in six weeks and we looked like it, we weren’t ourselves and we were poor. In the second half we were much better.”
AFC Wimbledon are back in action Sunday 29th January, when we welcome Championship side Charlton Athletic in the 4th Round of the Vitality Women’s FA Cup. The game is being played at Carshalton Athletic FC with a 3pm kickoff.
Above: Beth McKay celebrates with Fiona Walker after scoring for Livingston against Rossvale. Photo: Ger Harley/Sportpix
Livingston‘s new signing Beth Mckay has made an instant impact on the Scottish Women’s Championship, scoring a brace for the league leaders in a close 3-2 win away to Glasgow side Rossvale.
The first half saw the midfielder score either side of a goal from Brogan Anderson. Then Rossvale came back strongly in the second half with a double from Mel Porter, but Livi saw out the final ten minutes to defend their lead and grab the three points.
The hard-fought victory tightens the West Lothian club’s grip on the league and keeps them in pole position for promotion to the SWPL, after second-placed Renfrew Ladies were comprehensively beaten by Ayr United in Cumnock.
Clare Docherty scored a brace for United, with further goals from Cameron, Barbour and Dick with a penalty in a result which lifts the side up to fourth.
League One leaders FC Edinburgh beat Stenhousemuir 4-0 at home, while Falkirk held off a fightback by BSC Glasgow to win 3-2 and climb into second in the table. St. Mirren consolidated their top-half credentials with a 5-1 win over Dundee West which included a hat-trick by Maxine Fury.
In the second matchday of the new regional Biffa SWFL short season, Queen of the South look impressive in the SWFL South after putting 17 goals past Clark Drive, while Forfar Farmington have taken an early lead in the SWFL North after beating Dyce 5-2.
Central Girls, Bonnyrigg Rose, and Livingston Reserves all also made it two wins in two to top the SWFL East, while Alloa Athletic and Harmony Row did the same in the West league with wins over Cumbernauld Colts and West Park respectively.
Jean-Pierre Thiesset summarises the 13th round of 2022-2023 D1 Arkema season. Plus, an EXCLUSIVE photo gallery from Olympique Lyonnais’s match against Montpellier(23/1/23).
Above: Lyon fire in a shot on goal against Montpellier at the weekend. Photo: Jean-Pierre Thiesset for Impetus.
Rodez P-P Soyaux A snowstorm saw this match postponed to later in the season.
Fleury 4-4 Paris Saint-Germain
A spectacular game that cost PSG top spot in the table. Even with PSG largely dominating this game (they had 78% possession), they missed too many opportunities including a 54th-minute penalty, against a Fleury team who always seemed to believe they could pull off a great result. The fact that PSG even allowed Fleury to score four times could be an indicator of worrying times ahead. Fleury are undefeated at home for eight games (six wins, two draws). Goals: Paris Saint-Germain – Kadidiatou Diani (21, 39, 49), Ramona Bachmann (27); Fleury – Ewelina Kamczyk (15), Rosemonde Kouassi (29, 74), Airine Fontaine (70).
Le Havre 1-3 Paris FC
A straightforward win away from home for Paris FC that consolidates their third place in the table. Goals: Paris FC – Mathilde Bourdieu (9), Clara Matéo (41, 58); Le Havre – Sh’nia Gordon (10).
Reims 6-1 Bordeaux
Reims overwhelmed Bordeaux with a stunning display of attacking efficiency. Rachel Corboz who came on in the 88th minute scored twice through a free kick and on a penalty. 19-year-old Melchie Dumornay, who will play for Olympique Lyonnais, put her name on the scoresheet at the end of the match. Goals: Reims – Charlène Meyong Menene (33, 53), Sonia Ouchene (79), Rachel Corboz (90+1, 90+6 penalty), Melchie Dumornay (90+3); Bordeaux – Oluwatosin Demehin (51 Own Goal).
Dijon 1-0 Guingamp
Dijon were level with Guingamp on points before the match and the win stems a long run of league defeats. Goal: Dijon – Jenna Hellstrom (53).
Olympique Lyonnais 2-0 Montpellier
A bitterly cold night at the Groupama Olympique Lyonnais Training Center on Gérard Houiller Field saw proper winter football with the match temperature being -10 with the wind chill. Lyon largely dominated the match from the off but were wasteful in the first half with Dzenifer Marozsan, Wendie Renard and Vicki Becho all missing chances. Becho, making her first start, made amends by delivering the key pass for le Sommer’s goal on 49 minutes. Selma Bacha also delivered an outstanding performance before leaving the field with an injury on 80 minutes. She will be examined on Monday but the fear is a pulled hamstring that will see her out for several weeks. Sara Däbritz was elected player of the game. Goals : Lyon – Eugénie Le Sommer (49), Sara Däbritz (80).
Jean-Pierre Thiesset’s EXCLUSIVE photo gallery from pitchside at the Groupama Training Centre
Above: Scenes from the New York City ticker tape parade after the USWNT won the World Cup. Photo: Flickr/New York City Department of Transportation
Let’s get one thing absolutely clear before anything else – America loves winning. That is the most important piece of background to this piece, and it is vital that you remember it above all else.
In women’s football, the US have been trailblazers. They competed in the first women’s World Cup back in 1991 and hosted it in 1999. They won it in each of these years but it was the ‘99 victory that meant the most. It was a public exposure of the sport to the American public and, with Mia Hamm – one of the most respected and talented players of her time – providing the hero that the public needed to get hooked.
The reason that the USA were so ready for the advent of the World Cup is because of the Title IX rule – a civil rights law passed in 1972 that enforced equal funding in schools and universities towards men’s and women’s sports. In the space of 20 years, the number of girls playing high school football jumped from 700 to 120,000 (https://www.sportsver.com).
This progressive attitude towards women in football was way outside of the norm. In some of the most famous footballing nations across Europe and the World, women were essentially banned from playing the sport in any competitive circumstance. So even once the laws were changed, the infrastructure to produce and nurture young talent either didn’t exist or was too far behind to threaten the quality of the US or countries like Norway.
Interestingly, the thing that gave the US its advantage in the women’s game has been the thing holding the nation back in producing elite talents in the men’s game.
The college draft system that exists in the United States essentially replaces the academies of other countries. Young athletes are often offered places at colleges based on their sporting ability, and continue their moulding on campuses across the US, before being brought into the senior club game upon graduation.
When the college system is put side-by-side with elite footballing academies, it pales in comparison, as players don’t begin being effectively moulded for the adult game until they get out of college. In contrast, academies teach football from ages as young as 6. This is why the US when on a level playing field with countries like Spain, Germany or England, struggles to compare.
Contrast this with the approach to the women’s game – where the USA had college football education and other nations had next to none – and it becomes incredibly easy to see how the US managed to make its mark as a powerhouse of the world’s game.
The US women’s team had an advantage and then started winning. Winning in the US is the best way of drawing the attention of the populace and this was a sport, although not yet operating at its maximum capacity, that America had an opportunity to dominate for years.
American sports are full of irony. Baseball teams are named World Champions for leagues played entirely in the US. Athletes such as Tom Brady or Michael Jordan are lauded as the best athletes in the history of the world despite playing sports that are largely America-based. There is a real belief within the nation that Americans have a superiority in the sporting world, and early victories in women’s football provided more support for that belief.
Regardless of the massive achievement that was winning the first World Cup, in order to catch fire, the football team needed a spark. That spark came when the USA became the host of the 1999 tournament. It gave fans across the country the opportunity to witness a winning team.
The average attendance across that tournament was 37,000 and the American team scored 18 goals in six games on their way to a second World Cup in three tournaments. The overall attendance at the tournament was not beaten until 2015, which had more matches than the original layout. Not only was it one of the most successful tournaments in women’s sports, but it ignited the American interest in what they call soccer and embedded it firmly into the American psyche.
Mia Hamm was the star of the team and she was just important in pushing the popularity of the sport as the team’s success. The US is so commercially centred that the sport needed a Michael Jordan. It needed a Tom Brady, a Babe Ruth. Mia Hamm became that for football.
Hamm appeared in numerous adverts for popular products:
A Gatorade advert with Michael Jordan that ended with her judo tackling the basketballer to the floor
Became the mascot for the Wheaties box after the World Cup
Appeared on essentially every late-night cable TV show
Was profiled on television repeatedly
Was the focus of the game Mia Hamm 64 – a Nintendo Soccer Game
Hamm became the marketable player that the sport needed to convince young girls to start playing. Rather than aiming for nothing in particular, they could aim to be the next Mia Hamm; and this had a huge impact on how popular the sport was in schools.
The number of high school girls playing football had risen to a quarter of a million by 1999 and that did not stop rising. It is now the most popular sport for girls of that age and America’s national team is not getting any worse as time goes on.
The thing that makes America’s relationship with football so intriguing is its dismissal of the men’s game. Despite impressive talents like Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey operating at the elite level of the European game, the national team were never as successful as their counterparts, with the very college system that elevated the women’s game, holding back the men.
An interesting observation over recent weeks has come in all of my discussions with friends about the Qatar World Cup. There was no mention of their national team since Gregg Berhalter’s young side were knocked out by the Netherlands. There is a rejection of failure in American culture and so the women’s team remains at the present time lauded as greater than the men’s.
The legacy of Mia Hamm and the ‘99ers’ will live for a long time; not just in the memory of those who were there to witness it, but also in the stepovers and strikes of the young girls who dream of making it themselves.
Football is the World’s sport, and America empowered generations of girls where other countries failed them. Now, as the rest of the world continues the scramble to catch up, the US can wave them on from the finish line, secure in the knowledge that they can legitimately say they have been World Champions.
by Denise Duffy, New Zealand correspondent(22/1/23)
Above: North Harbour Stadium, where Wellington Phoenix will host Sydney FC next month. Photo: Auckland Stadiums.
Wellington Phoenix have announced that their women’s team will be playing their A-League Women round 15 match against Sydney FC at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland / Tāmaki Makaurau’s, New Zealand on Sunday 26th February.
North Harbour Stadium has a seating capacity of 19,000 and is located in Albany on the city’s North Shore. The Phoenix women’s current home is at Sky Stadium in Wellington / Te Whanganui a Tara, with a capacity of 34,500. There is an eight-hour drive between the two venues.
“With Auckland being the biggest city and having a huge number of football clubs and players, it makes total sense to take the game to Albany. There are a lot of young female players and fans in Auckland who will love the opportunity to watch their heroes play,” says supporter Jonathan Hagger, a member of the team’s Flight of the Nix supporters group.
“North Harbor Stadium is easy to get to, has great facilities and with the game being on a Sunday afternoon it will be attractive for families.”
“One of the biggest advantages of the stadium is that it is smaller and rectangular.” says Holly Eades of the Little Corner of Yellow supporters group. “It allows the fans to be closer to the action and the players will be able to hear us cheering them on in a more intimate venue.”
North Harbor Stadium is also home to the upcoming FIFA Women’s World Cup Play-Off Tournament and will host six matches beginning on 17th February.
Above: Wellington Phoenix celebrate their fourth goal against Canberra United. Photo: Keep Up.
“It really has been coming for us,” said Chloe Knott after Wellington Phoenix’s 5-0 defeat of Canberra United. It is safe say that very few people outside of the club could have predicted it.
Coming into this match, Wellington’s form was concerning. Even for a new side featuring a young core, they were underperforming and showed little improvement from last season. There had been glimpses. They were organized but ultimately toothless against Western United, and up until Sunday morning, that had been their most encouraging display.
Against a dangerous Canberra United, Wellington were dominant. They were disciplined, creative, fast, and composed. This was a complete performance by the home side made especially impressive considering key players had featured against the USA in an ill-timed international just 20 hours before.
The back four were perfection against one of the league’s most versatile attacks. Mackenzie Barry and Kate Taylor look back to their best as a unit and as individuals.
Barry was faced with Michelle Heyman for much of the match. Although the Canberra captain looked capable of scoring, she was given no easy chances. Taylor sent a reminder of what she can provide when fully fit. Her ability to win possession and maintain it is remarkable for a player of her relative inexperience.
The match was likely won in midfield, where The Phoenix pressured as a team and moved the ball before Canberra could get in shape to defend. Millie Clegg was the dominant figure for much of the match. Her close control and passing was an outlet for Wellington and a concern for Canberra.
It was fitting that Clegg scored the opening goal. The Phoenix had dominated for the majority of the opening half, but their best chance was spurned by Ava Pritchard who shot over the bar with an open goal at her mercy.
A corner kick was whipped in and Clegg stayed composed to side-foot it home through a crowded goal line. Wellington had taken advantage of their momentum and deserved the lead in the 43rd minute.
The lead was doubled before halftime. Just moments later Betsy Hassett finished another move with Clegg at the centre of it all. Pritchard held up the ball well on the right and flicked a pass into the path of Clegg who’s shot stung the palms of Chloe Lincoln. Hassett was on hand to finish off the rebound.
Canberra would have come out in the second half with a plan to get back into the contest, but all of that was undone when Pritchard scored in the 46th minute.
A flowing move ended with Michaela Foster on the left flank. When she has time to cross it usually means a chance for Wellington, and she laid it on a plate for Pritchard who finished with one touch at full pace. 3-0.
Even when things went wrong for Wellington, it ended up on their highlights reel. Chloe Knott conceded a clumsy penalty through a handball and Canberra had a lifeline.
Brianne Edwards had other ideas, and she dove to her right to save Vesna Milivojevic’s strike in athletic style.
Wellington put the result beyond any remaining doubt in the 83rd minute. Izzy Gomez shaped to shoot on the edge of the penalty area but clipped a clever pass through to Hassett who finished excellently to make it four.
Mickey Robertson deflected a corner toward goal to make it five in the dying stages. Canberra appealed for a handball, but it appeared to bounce off the shoulder of Robertson at worst. The last touch came off Emma Ilijoski and it has gone down as an own goal to the Canberra defender.
This was a brilliant display by Wellington. Clegg was unstoppable at times, Paige Satchell gave them pace and mobility out wide, and Edwards was sensational in goal.
Their first win for the season came in style, and they have shown that they can score goals, and keep clean sheets in the same game. Pritchard played her best game for the club, and her form will be crucial to any more wins they enjoy.
For Canberra United, this was a shock result. They did lose to Wellington 3-0 last season, but this is a very different side. They were outmatched across the ground, and without Grace Maher in midfield, they lacked the ability to get the tempo on their terms. But this game was all about The Phoenix. It was simply a perfect performance.
Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence told media post-game that the “pressure was piling on” to get a result. “We knew that this win had to happen. We knew that we wanted to do it and how we wanted to do it. I’ve said to the players all along it’s been coming, that 90-minute performance where just everything clicked. I said the goals were coming and today it poured goals.
“For me personally this is a day that I’ll remember forever. To do it how we did it is exactly everything I wanted to promise at the start of the season and thanks for the players for believing in that and sticking to our processes because the outcome happened today.”
Lawrence was especially proud of how her players performed with a two-goal halftime lead. “Credit to them. That could have been the most excitable changing room where they’re losing their heads because they’re like ‘oh my god it’s two-nil’.
“But they’re like ‘no we’re professionals there’s 45 minutes left let’s get more goals. Betsy’s goal was our first goal from open play let’s build on that’.
“We knew there was going to be a game where everything came together, everything we’ve been working on came together and I’m just really, really happy for the players that it was today.
“They stepped up their professionalism today I think. We don’t want to get carried away and get ahead of ourselves. This is the start, and this should be the real turning point in our season.”
Above:Hannah Keane embraces teammates after scoring for Western United.Photo:Yahoo Sport.
Western United recorded a 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar on a rainy Saturday afternoon in Tasmania. A very good local crowd of over 2,000 spectators watched the match, which was the first part of a doubleheader.
Brisbane started off the more aggressive of the two sides, with Katrina Gorry, Larissa Crummer, and Shea Connors all involved in promising half chances in the first couple of minutes. Just before the 10 minutes mark, Crummer made a good physical challenge on a Western defender to steal the ball, and took a shot on goal, but it was easily collected by the Western United keeper, Hillary Beall.
A few minutes later, Connors won an excellent ball in the midfield, passed to Gorry, who whipped it out to Roar captain, Ayesha Norrie. Norrie ran at the goal and struck a good shot, but Beall made a diving save to deny the shot.
The first real chance for Western United came in the 19th minute after a defensive mistake from the Brisbane backline led to Hannah Keane having possession of the ball. She took a shot on goal, but Hancuff was equal to it.
Just before regulation time for the first half expired, Adriana Taranto found herself in a dangerous position with the ball. She drilled it low and hard to the bottom left corner. The shot had Hancuff beaten, but just faded wide.
Taranto was disappointed; however, she wouldn’t have to wait long before being rewarded for her hard work. Two minutes later, she was an essential part of Western United’s first goal of the match. Taranto hit a good through ball to Jessica McDonald, who crossed it into the box, drawing a favourable deflection from a Brisbane defender that found the feet of Keane, who found the back of the net, with assistance from the inside of the goalpost.
The Roar started out the second half just as strongly as in the first half, with lots of great build-up, usually involving Gorry, Connors, and Crummer, but in every instance, the finishing product was not there. Brisbane’s best chance of the match came in the 49th minute when a great long ball from the midfield found Crummer in enough space to land a 747. Crummer ran at the Western keeper, with easily enough time to shape up a good shot but ended up kicking it straight to the keeper in the middle of the box.
Just before the hour mark, on the counterattack from one of Brisbane Roar’s attempts, Western United struck again.
McDonald made an amazing run past two Brisbane defenders and delivered a solid ball into the box. T.J. Vlajnic hustled hard to win the ball, putting it against the inside of the post. It bounced back out right in front of the goals and before anyone could clear it Vlajnic had successfully followed up for Western’s second goal of the day.
Western United managed to close out the remaining 30 minutes plus a long injury time without too much drama. The win ensured that they would stay at the top of the table, two points ahead of Melbourne City, and with one game in hand over their nearest rival.
Western United showed again why they are the team to beat this season, with a consistent performance all round. McDonald performed exceptionally well in her last game for Western United before returning home to the States. Her quick, dynamic movement and great passes helped set up one goal and create a bunch of other opportunities throughout the match.
Keane put in a solid shift as always, scoring the initial goal and creating other dangerous chances for her teammates. Beall defended the Western United goals very well, making six saves to record her fourth clean sheet for the campaign.
For Brisbane, the attacking mindset was definitely there. The Roar had 18 shots during the match. But poor passing accuracy, lack of intent, and an inability to convert chances let them down.
That said, Connors was excellent. Her speed, willingness to make challenges and win the ball was perhaps the best it has been all season. She took several shots on goal and created good opportunities for her teammates as well. Gorry worked her magic in the midfield as always, but there’s only so much one woman can do. Hollie Palmer and Crummer had some good moments in the match as well.
Western United will face Canberra United next weekend and Brisbane Roar will take on Wellington Phoenix, buoyed by their first win of the season today.
Teams: WESTERN UNITED (4-3-3): Beall, Papadopoulos, Cummings, Cerne, Medwin, M. Taranto, Robers, A. Taranto, McDonald, Keane, Vlajnic. Substitutes: Dall’Oste, Beard, Sawicki, Steer, Johnson.
by Denise Duffy at Eden Park for Impetus (21/1/23)
Above: New Zealand’s Ali Riley wins a header against the USA’s Ashley Sanchez. Photo: NZ Football.
It was a historic day for women’s football in Aotearoa / New Zealand. For their second match against the USWNT, a record-breaking 12,721 people came to Auckland’s Eden Park to watch the Ferns. They got thumped by the world champions by a scoreline of five goals to nil.
“It’s so unique for New Zealand. We are so thankful that we can play in front of a home crowd that is so supportive. Knowing that we are playing against number one in the world, knowing that they are such a strong team. I had goosebumps. When I could hear the fans I knew was a huge motivation for our players to keep working hard, keep connecting, and keep looking for those little wins on the field,” said head Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková in the post-match media conference.
In this non-FIFA window, club teams were not obliged to release their athletes. It left the Kiwis without many of their stalwarts.
The Ferns’ depleted squad was no match for the likes of speedy and talented Trinity Rodman, Rose Lavelle, and Mallory Swanson. Forward Ashley Hatch, who replaced Alex Morgan just before kickoff, got on the board first at the 22nd minute with a textured assist from Trinity Rodman.
Lavelle, who was captain for the day, added two goals herself, one in each half. Swanson continued her red-hot form with another one in the back of the net. Finally, Taylor Kornieck used her 6’1” frame, and went unmarked in the box to score a header from a corner.
Instead of focusing on the scoreline, the Ferns decided to make this campaign against the world’s number-one team as a way to connect with their domestic fans and build their team culture.
Speaking afterwards, Anna Green commented: “It’s always disappointing to lose five nil but we’re not going to dwell on that. And as a group it was about holding on to the positive and staying in touch with what our game plan was.
“It was trying to get better at every training session, every game, and every chance that we’re together. The beauty of this tour is that we’ve done that and we’ve done that with 10 to 12 people that might not normally be part of the squad. That’s something we should be proud of as a team and as a nation as well.”
Above: Jayde Riviere in action for Canada. Photo: Manchester World.
Manchester United Women have announced the signing of 21-year-old Canadian international defender Jayde Riviere on a contract running until the end of the 2024/25 season.
Riviere made her full international debut at just 16 years old and has since gone on to make 36 senior caps for Canada and was part of their Olympic Gold winning team at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games, as well as securing two silver CONCACAF medals for her country.
Speaking after signing for the club, Riviere revealed that the move is the culminationm of a dream coming true: “I am a huge Manchester United fan, so this is a dream come true for me to sign here. I’m really looking forward to developing and learning at this huge football club, and I can’t wait to use all my playing attributes to help us achieve our joint goals on the pitch.”
United head coach Marc Skinner believes that the signing of the Canadian underlines his club’s commitment to developing young talent: “Jayde is an exciting young player who matches the long-term version of Manchester United, and our continued belief in nurturing the best young talent in the game.
“We have been monitoring Jayde for a long time and believe she has the attributes to become an excellent footballer. We are delighted she has signed her first professional contract with us and look forward to seeing the quality she will add to the group.”
Above: Alex Chidiac (left) jumps for joy after scoring her equaliser for Melbourne Victory as Beattie Goad looks to join in the celebrations. Photo: Keep Up.
Melbourne Victory ended their run of three straight draws after coming from behind to defeat Adelaide United at ServiceFM Stadium today.
Second-half strikes from the influential Alex Chidiac and Kayla Morrison were reward for a greatly improved showing from Jeff Hopkins’ side after the break.
Whilst the visitors return to winning ways, Adelaide United’s finals hopes remain in real danger after their run without a win extends to five games – a spell that has seen them assemble only a single point since 17th December.
Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins made five changes to the team that gained a draw at Western Sydney Wanderers on Wednesday. Casey Dumont, who has been in superb form all season, missed out due to illness, with Miranda Templeman taking her place in goal. Also coming in were Tiff Eliadis, Paige Zois, Elise Kellond-Knight, and Maja Markovski, who made her first start of the season after injury.
Adelaide took the lead with eight minutes on the clock. Claudia Bunge was adjudged to have punished Emilia Murray in the back out on the right outside the box. Mindy Barbieri floated in the free-kick and last season’s A-League Women’s top scorer Fiona Worts was left unmarked to head comfortably into the far left-hand corner of the net for her first of the campaign.
The South Australians had built their first-half performance around winning the midfield battle and created a number of half chances to increase their lead which Victory were able to scramble away. Adelaide achieved this despite only having 40% of possession. Therefore warning signs were there for Adrian Stenta’s side. Creating chances and not taking them when having less of the ball is a recipe for longer-term problems in a match.
As the half ticked on past the half-hour mark, the visitors began to assert themselves far more offensively. Beattie Goad’s influence was increasing with jinking runs and deliveries from the left.
Adelaide were becoming more disjointed and inaccurate with their passing, with Victory increasing the pace of their press on any red shirt with the ball. They did though manage to create another excellent opportunity as Worts beat Kellond-Knight along the left of the box and pulled a low ball across for Chelsie Dawber who couldn’t get sufficient power into her shot to worry Templeman.
As the half came to an end, the momentum was shifting towards the visitors as their possession time in the final third increased incrementally.
Chidiac stepped it up from the restart. A marauding run with a swift injection of pace eased her through the Adelaide defence before offloading to Goad who fired in an effort that Grove dealt with. It was a warning sign.
Just moments later, Goad escaped from the close attentions of Yuyi Xiao and Isabel Hodgson on the left and pulled a low ball into the centre of the box for Chidiac to take a touch and fire home a low half volley.
Victory were now dominant with Chidiac pulling the strings and a combination of Goad and Eliadis threatening the Adelaide defence. With the battle of the midfield now clearly going the way of the visitors, Jeff Hopkins’ side were energised. They were quicker in their press, more rapid in their attacking, and more creative in their attacking ideas.
When the home side did offer something offensively, it was noticeably more ponderous in its construction. They did offer a glimmer with Worts’ low long-distance shot being claimed by Templeman, but it only served to provoke Chidiac into another creative surge.
The Matildas midfielder showed great pace to run between Barbieri and Sasaki and driving a high ball in that was directed by a defender onto their own crossbar with Markovski unable to force the rebound in.
Markovski saw another opportunity go agonisingly wide when Rikke Madsen’s pass across to Kellond-Knight was played across to the attacker who sent the ball trickling past the left-hand post.
Goad created once more along the left and escaped from Paige Hayward to send in a high ball for Lia Privitelli at the back post, but the header was just over the top. Chidiac then saw a deliberate Olimpico attempt just fail from the right within seconds. A goal was coming for the visitors. It was just a matter of when.
It came within moments. Chidiac stepped up once more with a corner on the left which came high into the mix and was met by Morrison with a looping header from the edge of the six-yard box.
Seconds later, Chidiac was within centimetres of doubling her side’s lead with a moment of outrageous skill. She lifted the ball over McCormick just outside the box and as it came down, headed against the bar.
There was time for one final opportunity for Adelaide to save a point. Worts’ ball in from the left was met by the head of McCormick, but Templeman made a superb diving save.
Adelaide United are now at a crossroads. They are creating chances, but cannot convert them as they did last season. The Reds’ current poor run of results also comes with a statistic of only two goals in five matches. Things won’t get any easier next weekend when they travel to Melbourne City. Their season is very much on the line.
Teams:ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-3): Grove, I. Hodgson, McCormick, Waldus, Hayward, Barbieri, Sasaki, Dawber, Xiao, Murray, Worts. Substitutes: Bowler, Coorey, Farrow, E. Hodgson, Westland.