Powell Positive Ahead Of Reading Encounter

Impetus’ Ellie Ramsauer was in Brighton and Hove Albion head coach Hope Powell‘s media conference and heard her positivity and pride in her squad going into tomorrow’s important game with Reading (24/9/22).

Above: Hope Powell talking to the media. Photo: Brighton & Hove Albion Women.

It was a tough start to the season for Brighton and Hove Albion as they lost 4-0 to a strong Arsenal team at Meadow Park. Their challenge was made harder as Emma Kullberg was sent off for Brighton after a trip on Stina Blackstenius outside the box.

However, Hope Powell, Brighton’s head coach, was keen to look at the positives of that game as she recognised the effort put in by the team despite the disadvantage, stating she was “proud of the players, the way they continued (and) ran”, and she appreciated that they “put a shift in”.

Another positive Powell took from the match was that they made it through the 90 minutes with no fresh injury concerns “which was the main thing.” Despite no new injuries, they remain without Rebekah Stott, who is still recovering after her ankle surgery several weeks ago, with Megan Connelly (broken ribs), Danielle Carter (illness), and Masie Symonds who is still recovering from glandular fever remaining on the sidelines.

The Seagulls’ head coach reflected on the impact of these injuries, particularly on the senior players who are key influencers in the squad and therefore a big miss during the time they are out. However, Powell remains positive after her side’s defeat to Arsenal and is happy with the spirit the squad showed despite going down to 10 players.     

The former Lionesses coach did, however, concede that it was “not an easy reset” for the team as they lose a player through suspension for the red card. This, on top of injuries, mean that the squad has had “quite a lot of work to do” and there is a need to “change things around” to accommodate this change. Despite this Powell maintains that the “players are very positive” and are “looking forward to the challenge on Sunday”.

Above: Brighton and Hove Albion players return to the Amex Stadium tomorrow – over 5,000 tickets have already been sold. Photo: Brighton & Hove Albion Women.

Brighton are looking ahead to Sunday’s fixture against Reading which will be the first women’s game played at the Amex Stadium since the Euros. Last summer’s international tournament, which brought in an influx of new fans to the women’s game, is likely to lead to an upsurge in the numbers attending, which will amplify the atmosphere and, in turn, give the team a boost. Powell reflects on this as she encourages fans to “come along and judge for themselves”, particularly those who may not have been fans of the women’s game before the Euros.

In terms of the opposition, Brighton’s head coach concedes that Reading “will be a tough game” despite their opening game of the season 4-0 defeat at Manchester United. Powell says she sees “the game as an opportunity”, but acknowledges that Kelly Chambers’ side will see it the same way. This is expected as both sides will be hungry to put points on the board after a disappointing opening day of the season.

Reading made a number of signings in the summer, which the Seagulls chief is wary of, believing it will make this a “close contest.” However, Brighton have also made a number of signings this summer who have impressed Powell since being introduced to the squad.

In particular, Elisabeth Terland has imposed herself since arriving from Norway as Powell shared that Terland was actually ‘disappointed she didn’t score’ against Arsenal. Brighton’s head coach also spoke of Terland’s “really good strike” of the ball and her ambition “to be a top striker for club and country”.

Brighton and Hove Albion host Reading at the Amex Stadium in the Barclays Women’s Super League at 2:00pm tomorrow local time.

 

Matildas In The WSL: Harder, Better, Fowler, Stronger

Ahead of tomorrow’s big WSL clash between Chelsea and Manchester City at Kingsmeadow, Impetus’ Jonathan Tay profiles the talented teenager Mary Fowler (24/9/22).

Above: Cairns-born Mary Fowler has been a teenage star for the Matildas for some time. The WSL is about to find out why. Image: Football Australia.

“Mary Fowler, for me, is the next big thing.”

Matildas captain Sam Kerr does not mince words when discussing her teenage teammate, Mary Fowler. A team mate she will come up against as an opponent at Kingsmeadow at 4pm local time tomorrow afternoon.

Since breaking out at the 2021 Olympics as a viable option for the Australian squad, Fowler has been on a meteoric rise. She’s excited players and fans alike; her magnetic ball control and lock-picking passing paired with a calm and composed demeanour.

Kerr, a golden boot winner in 3 different countries, labelled the 19-year-old already the “best finisher in the team…on both feet”.

“She’s been in the team for maybe three or four years now, but in the last year and a half she’s completely changed and found herself,” Kerr observed. “Maybe Europe has helped that, but she’s honestly a key player for us now.”

As impressive as Fowler’s growth has been thus far, this next calendar year could be a platform for the Cairns native to become even more of a household name.

She’ll not only be relied upon to be an important creative outlet for the Matildas at a World Cup on home soil next July but for English giants Manchester City this domestic season as well.

Having joined on a four-year contract, Fowler will ply her trade in the Women’s Super League, one of the most high-profile competitions in the world, up against the likes of Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord’s Arsenal, and Kerr’s Chelsea.

In 2021/2022, for all of Fowler’s notable showings for Australia, she managed just 674 minutes for her former club team Montpelier, operating predominantly as a forward or left winger.

But even with limited offerings, some of that potential was on display: five goals from six starts, whilst also ranking highly in per-90 statistics across the D1 Féminine for expected goals, dribbles, shooting efficiency, and chance-creating passes.

Statistic (per 90 min played)M. FowlerRank
Expected Goals0.420th
Shots3.349th
Shooting Accuracy56%10th
Dribbles6.419th
Through Passes1.69th
Smart Passes1.211th
Above: Fowler’s statistics vs all D1 Féminine players (minimum 450 min played). Source: Wyscout.

Thus far, though a small sample size, City head coach Gareth Taylor has more utilised Fowler through the central midfield area in the two games played during their ultimately unsuccessful Champions League qualification campaign.

The idea is to make greater use of the youngster’s talent on the ball, facilitating in the build up phase of her team’s play, and presenting more occasions to find teammates further up-field in scoring positions.

It should also assist in furthering Fowler’s development, as she gains more consistent reps in a similar role to the one she plays for Australia.

Above: The similarity in Fowler’s heat maps for the Canada-friendly series (left) vs for first two appearances for Manchester City (right). Source: Wyscout.

She’ll have a golden opportunity to grab a starting place right from the off, with Manchester City astoundedly losing their entire first-choice midfield of Georgia Stanway, Keira Walsh, and Caroline Weir from last season.

The Australian didn’t make the XI for the Sky Blues’ opening match of the WSL, but she didn’t have to wait long, coming on after the interval for the unconvincing Filippa Angeldahl.

Granted, there are still areas of Fowler’s game where she can continue to make improvements. Her passing at times loses its sharpness or direction, and she can drift in and out of games for stretches of play.

Matildas head coach Tony Gustavsson noted after the first match of the recent Canada friendly series, “Mary (Fowler) struggled a bit in defending, her intensity in pressing, so we got a bit stretched. Her attacking was phenomenal, she can spin on a dime and shoot from distance…[but] we were not intense enough in the first half.”

More than anyone else though, Fowler herself understands the importance of staying grounded and absorbing as much as she can, particularly at this nascent age. Speaking during her first interview for her new club, she affirmed, “I’m still young, and I’ve still got a lot to learn.

“Being at a club like Man City, I’m not only surrounded by amazing staff and coaches, but I get the chance to be playing alongside and playing against some of the best players in the world. I have everything I need to fulfil my potential as a footballer.”

City head coach Gareth Taylor added, “Mary is, without doubt, one of the most exciting young talents in the game right now. She has a maturity beyond her years but for her, she’s excited to come to England to learn and grow as a player.”

We may not see Fowler at her peak of ability for another one, or even two, World Cup cycles. Particularly with Manchester City also facing somewhat of a squad rebuild, there will be an adjustment period as she acclimatises to the speed of an unfamiliar environment and in the face of unerring opposition.

But if the teenager’s development to this point is anything to go by, by this time next year there may well be a much greater crowd of local and international fans agreeing with Kerr about who the “next big thing” is.

This article is one of three this weekend previewing tomorrow’s big game at Kingsmeadow. The first was Kieran Yap‘s reflections from Chelsea boss Emma Hayes‘ media conference yesterday: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/09/23/emma-hayes-previews-chelseas-huge-clash-with-city/

McCabe & Eidevall Ahead Of “Physical” North London Derby

Impetus’ Kris Goman caught up with both Arsenal‘s Katie McCabe and Jonas Eidevall prior to the potentially record-breaking North London derby to be played at The Emirates this afternoon (24/9/22).

Above: Katie McCabe – proud of the way Arsenal have built on Euros success to sell over 50,000 tickets for today’s game. Photo: Arsenal Women.

A North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is always a tasty affair, and both Katie McCabe and Gunners head coach Jonas Eidevall are expecting a physical game from their rivals.

McCabe outlined: “That’s what a derby game is all about but it’s up to us to control our minds and control that mentality. We’ll be ready for any physicality thrown at us tomorrow.” 

When quizzed about her role on the team and sharing positions she said, “When you’re playing at a club like Arsenal, there’s always going to be quality in every position. Sometimes even two players in a position that you’re going to have to fight for. I’m quite versatile in that sense.

“I think I play maybe, I think it was four different positions last year. It’s up to me to train 100%, train hard. Push. If it is obviously Steph (Catley) or Caitlin (Foord) on that left side, it gives Jonas a difficult decision when he selects his team. I want us to win every week whether I’m playing my part on the pitch or playing my part on the bench, I want to be there 100% for the girls. It’s one of those things when you’re playing for a big club, there’s always going to be competition and you have to fight for your place.” 

Looking back at the Euros, McCabe revealed how much she enjoyed going to the games in person and seeing it all from a fan’s perspective, and then emphasised the foundations that are being built upon since July. “Arsenal have done a terrific job of tapping into that momentum from the Euros and really pushing this game, the North London derby at the Emirates with 51,000 tickets sold, I think. It’s unbelievable.” 

McCabe highlighted how the Euros got people in to support the Republic of Ireland national team too and their match against Finland had a record crowd for a home game. “You feel that momentum now. The support from the fans, the atmosphere.” 

Reflecting on the change in the team over her time at the club, “It’s amazing. The progression, the investment the club have put in over the last seven years of being here, it’s unbelievable and it’s very easy to stand still and think, oh, we’re Arsenal and we’ve won all these trophies but the real progression and drive from the club from the top down and all around the training ground as well, there’s a real sense of one team, of one club.

Above: Katie McCabe is aiming for more celebrations against Tottenham today in front of a huge crowd. Photo: PA.

“You can feel that even when we went to the first team game. We were invited and brought down onto the pitch. It’s such a special place to be part of. Having everyone feeling part of it is massive. We were over there having lunch and we’ve got David Seaman wishing us luck for tomorrow. It just shows how far we’ve come as a club.” 

Focusing specifically on this afternoon’s big game, the Ireland international said: “It’s important to get three points tomorrow. We know obviously what a derby means as an Arsenal player and as a fan and we want to beat them and it’s on our home turf as well. We’ve got 50 odd thousand fans cheering us on as well so it’s important to obviously stay within our game plan and stay in control and make sure we get the three points.” 

Today’s game could see one the biggest women’s club match attendances in over a century and McCabe was asked if that made her feel proud or a little bit frustrated because women’s football has been held back for so long and could be in a totally different place.

“There’s an obvious frustration there that we have been held back for so long but we can’t dwell too much on the past and we need to obviously just charge forward with that. We’re playing at the Emirates tomorrow and Liverpool and Everton are playing at Anfield as well on Sunday. I think the drive from all the clubs in the WSL is to take the momentum from the Euros and keep building and not let this just be a once off and we need to keep going with it and keep driving.”

I then asked Katie if she prefers to play at home at Meadow Park with a sold-out crowd of bolted-on fans or at Emirates Stadium with over 50,000 attendance, many of whom may have just jumped on the bandwagon of the Euros that may not be so familiar with the game and certainly with the players.

“For me, since I’ve come here, Meadow Park has always been our home and we’ve got a really good connection with Boreham Wood. Those kind of one-off games at Emirates are becoming a lot more frequent now which is fantastic and Emirates is starting to feel like our home as well having played there so much last season and hopefully, we’ll be looking to build on that again this season.

“It’s neither here nor there with me. I love both playing fields. I think maybe you’ve got that extra touch at Meadow Park where the fans are a little bit more close and you can interact a little bit more. But you can’t say no to 50,000 fans at the Emirates either.” 

Above: Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall emphasised his expectations of a physical approach from Tottenham Hotspur. Photo: Guardian.

Jonas Eidevall was visibly excited to be playing three games in a week after four months of no action. “It feels so alive. Your brain switches on in a totally different way. It’s very nice to be back and playing.” 

He was at pains to point out that the tickets for the derby were 50,000 sold tickets. “They weren’t giveaways or at a discounted price, it’s sold tickets. And that’s really, really special because doing this, the way the club has done it, it’s a statement. It shows the press here; it is for real.

“The investment that we as a team, the club has done, but also, all the past generations, the past teams before us, have done and have built us up to this stage here. That’s phenomenal. We feel that and we want to make the most of it so it can happen again and more frequently. Let’s be honest, football clubs need revenues, and ticket sales are important to revenues.” 

Eidevall highlighted how well preparations had been going. The only player who wasn’t available for the Champions League game against Ajax in midweek was Mana who was ill but she should be able to return to the squad for today’s game so Arsenal should have full availability. 

The Gunners head coach emphasised the importance of Beth Mead, for him, one of the best players in the world. “For her to play her best game, that will involve a lot of actions. That means you can’t be having positive actions all the time. The thing is, as a forward, you will always fail more than you are successful. But for Beth, it’s about having that self-confidence. That can be pressing, that can be challenging, it can be one-v-one for example but that’s where she needs to go to every game and when she does, then I think that she’s one of the best players in the world.” 

Above: Jonas Eidevall pointed to the fact that his team are no longer reliant on Vivianne Miedema for goals. Photo: Arsenal WFC.

In recent years, a regular criticism on the Gunners was their reliance on the goals of Vivianne Miedema. That’s not the case anymore. “Any team needs a number of ways that you can score goals,” Eidevall explained, “And hopefully, you have a number of players that can score goals for you. Any team that can only do it with only one player or only one way, will always become predictable for an opponent. 

Looking back to Arsenal’s midweek Champions League Qualifying Round 1st Leg defeat to Ajax, it was suggested to Eidevall that facing Brighton and Hove Albion in his team’s only competitive encounter this term wasn’t a great preparation as the Seagulls went down to ten players so early. A battle with Tottenham should set the North Londoners up perfectly for the second leg in Amsterdam due to the physicality likely to be present this afternoon.

“Ajax are a very physical team and we know Tottenham is as well. That’s the team that fouls the most in the WSL. They have been doing it so consistently under Rehanne Skinner that it’s very much a strategy that they have – to foul a lot. They try to be very physical, so of course, we are prepared for that. And we could see that Ajax was doing the same.” He spoke at length about how opposition teams changed their tactics just for Arsenal and played differently from their last five games when they play his team. This just meant Arsenal had to be adaptable and able to change to suit the new formation or tactics.  

When it comes to selection, Eidevall placed emphasis on what specific threats the opposition are likely to pose. He gave the example of left-back. “We have two very good left backs in Steph Catley and Katie McCabe. They are not exactly the same type of players but they also have different qualities. Sometimes that quality as a player will fit really well against an opponent. It’s also a competition but I believe a competition also brings out the best of people, long term. Very few people without that competition can derive that standard every day. We’ll see who gets to play tomorrow.” 

Above: The versatility offered by Steph Catley is something Jonas Eidevall is a huge fan of. Photo: Martin Rose.

I asked about the role of Steph Catley who was pressing forward taking direct shots on goal against Ajax – something which is not a regular part of her game. Eidevall recalled she scored in the final game of the season against West Ham United and suggested she might have felt a little bit encouraged from that one.

“But to be honest, with our full-backs in more attacking positions, I think that comes as a natural thing that she gets a bit more into those positions and I really like when I have Steph Catley as an attacking full-back because her timing of doing runs is exceptional. So when you do that right, she will get into more positions for both the finishing and the final pass.”

Eidevall emphasised once more that Tottenham are the team that fouls the most in the league and that it’s a strategy. He wanted the officials to be aware and take a more proactive approach and caution earlier to protect the players and make the game flow a little better. “But that’s the referee’s calls, not mine. We just need to be prepared for it and not let it get into our head and focus on the way we play.”

Emma Hayes Previews Chelsea’s Huge Clash With City

Impetus’ Kieran Yap was in Chelsea head coach Emma Hayes‘ media conference today looking ahead to Sunday’s big game against Manchester City at Kingsmeadow (23/9/22).

Above: Emma Hayes – the Chelsea head coach is confident her team can bounce back from an unexpected opening day reverse at Liverpool. Photo: The Times.

Following a surprise opening day loss against newly promoted Liverpool, Chelsea are looking to bounce back against rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

The clash at Kingsmeadow is the first meeting between the first and third place sides of last season, and a rematch of the epic FA Cup Final which Chelsea won.

Speaking to the media before the weekend, Chelsea coach Emma Hayes is confident that her team will respond from the 2-1 last weekend.

“I never worry about that with my group,” said Hayes. “I always think, there’s so many leaders in the dressing room, they’re so accountable, and they’re so mature.

Above: Pernille Harder – the Dane will potentially miss Sunday’s big game. Photo: UEFA Women’s Champions League.

“That’s one thing I’ve seen as an improvement in the team is their response to things collectively, not going inward. I think everybody is going to give the best they can this week.”

Chelsea may be without Pernille Harder. The Danish attacker is still in doubt due to a hamstring concern, but otherwise, Hayes has a full-strength side to choose from.

Manchester City’s loss came in dramatic fashion. They conceded four times against Aston Villa, but looked dangerous in attack, and scored three times in rapid succession to open the second half.

Hayes is eager to avoid a shootout with Gareth Taylor’s squad, even though it might please neutrals and the media.

“We know there’s two top teams on show, and I’m sure we want the advert of a nine-goal thriller. I hope we don’t satisfy you and it’s a little duller than that. But it’s a sell-out crowd and I’m sure both teams will create great entertainment.”

Kingsmeadow is expected to be near capacity for the encounter. It is one of many games in the round where large crowds are expected. Arsenal and Tottenham are set to play in front of up to 50,000 fans in the North London Derby.

Above: Emma Hayes pointed to the fact that occasional big crowds are a positive, but attendances need to be consistently high across the season. Photo: The Guardian.

Hayes is delighted at the public interest but has always been consistent that long-term planning is the key to growing women’s football sustainably.

“I’m just so happy to hear about the increases in attendance across the board because the league has to be strong for everyone. I think we just need to keep thinking about the support we give every club to make sure they can keep fulfilling their own objectives so that we can grow to the next base.

“You’ve got to keep building one block at a time, you’ve got to keep doing that instead of looking for something like ‘why don’t we have 41,000 every week’, I don’t think we’re at that stage yet.

“The question is how we turn that 51,000 at the North London Derby into more consistent fans that will sell out every game every week?”

Large one-off crowds have occurred in the past, but things are starting to feel different following the Euros as if this is the beginning of a new normal. That the Tottenham versus Arsenal game has been the result of paid tickets is significant.

Hayes has always maintained that women’s football is often too cheap. The product is worth paying for and should not be undervalued. The key she says is to capitalise on every opportunity such as the men’s international breaks which would make ideal times for big women’s club games.

Above: Emma Hayes reflected on the contrasting tests her side and City faced in pre-season. Photo: Sky Sports.

Gradual expansion of the FAWSL is also important to Hayes. She does not want it to remain “stuck” on 12 teams.

“For me it’s critical that the next level is sponsorship coming directly into the women’s team and if not, overt transparency that when a commercial sponsor contributes that a portion of what is going into the women’s section so that we can have some tangible numbers beyond the metrics and the demographics.”

City and Chelsea have had very different pre-seasons. While Chelsea was on a tour of the USA, and playing friendly matches against the likes of Portland Thorns, Manchester City was competing in Champions League qualifiers and trying to replace the likes of Caroline Weir, Georgia Stanway and Kiera Walsh who all departed.

Both teams are in a state of transition, but Chelsea added to their squad and have begun integrating Lauren James into the starting line-up. Hayes urges patience for her new signings.

“It’s tricky. I think it does take time for the new players to settle in,” she said. “I actually don’t mind being in that position and our new players understand that they have to adapt and learn, play their roles until they understand the philosophy, the methodology, and everything within the playing principles.

“Sometimes that’s really difficult when you’ve got a short pre-season. Some only had a week or two weeks, it takes a little bit of time for that to happen. I’m someone who constantly prepares for the future too. Sometimes it takes six months to settle and you see the benefit of Lauren James from last year to now.

Above: Lauren James is benefitting from a full and testing pre-season. Photo: Eurosport.

“I don’t think that the fans and the press are always kind about what it takes to produce and perform at this level. There’s just this automatic assumption that there’s this great player who’s great for her club or country elsewhere. How can she not be performing at that level at this place?

“The intensity of our game is so quick. The intensity of our training is so quick. There’s a process of adaptation across the board not just our club.”

Although Chelsea have beaten Manchester City in each of their last two encounters and City appear vulnerable, Hayes is taking nothing for granted.

“I think the minute you run into that place where you say ‘this will be easy’ it’s such a dangerous statement to make. You have to treat every opponent with respect because they have quality throughout.

“I think they were improving their performances with every game they played against us last year and I think that will give them confidence. For us, we’re at home and as cliched as it sounds if you spend so much time thinking or worrying about the others, not only do you put that worry and anxiety into your own players but there aren’t enough hours.

“You’ve got literally four sessions a week to nail all the details you need before a game. My philosophy is just focus on us, just get us right. Get our game plan right and if we execute that then you have a good chance of competing.”

Chelsea face Manchester City at 4pm local time on Sunday

Carla Ward: Leicester Game Offers A “Different Type Of Pressure”

Impetus’s Nathan Edwards was in Aston Villa head coach Carla Ward‘s media conference today ahead of her side’s trip to the King Power Stadium on Sunday (23/9/22).

Above: Aston Villa boss Carla Ward knows that despite beating Manchester City last week, nothing can be taken for granted when they face Leicester City on Sunday. Photo: Aston Villa Women.

Carla Ward expects a “tougher game” against Leicester City, compared to Aston Villa’s 4-3 victory against Manchester City last weekend.

The Villans head to the King Power Stadium off the back of a historic seven-goal thriller against Gareth Taylor’s outfit. But opening the campaign with a 4-3 win over last season’s third-place finishers, Ward believes her side needs to adapt to a new challenge.

“It is going to be a tougher game for me than City because it is a completely different element. I watched the Leicester versus Tottenham game and it was very transitional. We must ensure we don’t fall into that and control large parts of it.

“People will believe we will go there and win the game which is a different pressure altogether and we have to accept that.”

It was a perfect start for the Villans, who have already scored 30% of the goals they managed last season, with new signing Rachel Daly collecting a brace on her debut. Daly scored the winner with 14 minutes remaining, and the England international has made a huge impact beyond her goal threat.

Above: Freya Gregory signing her new deal at the Midlands club this week. Photo: Aston Villa Women.

The Villa boss said, “I think Rachel and Kenza (Dali) are winners and they want to get after people and get in people’s faces. Along with Kirsty (Hanson) they have come from winning environments, which is important, and they have installed that.

“They have also brought in a belief that it doesn’t matter who you are playing against it is 11 versus 11 and it is continually important to tell the girls that. It is also about expressing yourself and making mistakes we aren’t going to get after you for making mistakes unless you make the same mistake ten times, but we want to show what we are about.”

The new faces Ward has managed to attract to the club have also been key in guiding the young players who have worked their way into the first team squad.

In addition, Freya Gregory signed a new three-year deal with the club this week, something that symbolises the long-term aims that Villa are trying to put into action.

“It shows from a club’s point of view that we have a real strategic plan in place for the next three to five years, which is vital. We know what we have and where we want to get to along with who can help us to reach that and Freya (Gregory) is a piece of that puzzle as are the other youngsters.

“We are building a plan that players like Freya can look at and say that they want to be a part of it.”

Sydney Sides Announce Signings And Perth Unveil New Kit

Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from Sydney FC‘s returning duo of Cortnee Vine and Jada Whyman plus head coach Ante Juric, Western Sydney WanderersAmy Harrison, plus the reveal of Perth Glory‘s striking two new kits for 2022/23 (23/9/22).

Above: The return of Cortnee Vine (left) and Jada Whyman is huge for Sydney’s hopes to go one better than the last two seasons. Photo: Sydney FC.

Matildas’ stars Cortnee Vine and Jada Whyman will proudly wear the Sky Blue of Sydney FC in the Liberty A-League 2022-23 season.

The double Premiership-winning duo have been central to the Sky Blues’ success over the past two seasons, with their form earning both Matildas call-ups in the past 12 months.

The signature of 24-year-old Vine came despite interest from a number of clubs at home and abroad, with the 13-goal winger excited to be staying in Sky Blue.

“I feel very at home at Sydney FC and the club and our squad are like family to me so had no hesitation in re-signing for the club,” she said.

“We feel we’ve been the best club over the past few years having consistently won trophies and qualified for Grand Finals and we’ve got another very good chance this season with the players in our side.

Graphic: Sydney FC.

“Playing for the Matildas at the new Allianz Stadium gave me a real sense of how incredible it is to play there and I can’t wait to go back again this season.”

Goalkeeper Whyman, who is 22 years old, starts her third season in Sydney FC colours and is determined to complete the double after narrowly missing out in the last two Grand Finals.

“I’ve had a fantastic journey since I arrived at Sydney FC, and we’ve had some brilliant wins and successes, but there’s a real determination this season to complete the Championship set,” she said.

“We’ve another young and vibrant squad this year and I think that really bodes well for us in terms of another successful season. The season is longer and it’s going to be tough but it’s also exciting and I can’t wait to get going.”

Head Coach Ante Juric is delighted to have secured two more quality signings for his squad.

“Cortnee and Jada have been integral for us these past two seasons and without question are two of the best players in the competition. They have another season under their belts so I’ve no doubt will improve this year and it will make us stronger. Our squad is looking good and once we bring in three or four more players we’ll be even better.”

Vine and Whyman make up the 17th and 18th players in Sydney FC’s Women’s squad. The players return to pre-season training in mid-October and start their campaign away to Adelaide United on Saturday 20th November.

Harrison Return Boosts Wanderers

Above: Amy Harrison in action during her previous spell with Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers.

Western Sydney Wanderers FC today confirmed the return of Amy Harrison on a two-year deal.

Harrison returns to Australia after a two-year stint in the Eredivisie Women where she made 44 appearances with powerhouse PSV Eindhoven.

During her time in the top tier of women’s football in the Netherlands, Harrison was crowned the winner of the KNVB Beeker Women and was the runner-up to the Eredivisie Women competition.

The midfielder’s last stint in the Liberty A-League was back in 2019/20 with the Red & Black where Harrison helped guide the Wanderers to a number of major milestones including the club’s first-ever Finals Series appearance.

A Western Sydney local, Harrison said she was delighted to ink a two-year deal with the club.

“After two seasons away, I’m so happy to be back home with the Wanderers to play in front of the club’s passionate members and fans, as well as my family and friends,” said Harrison.

“I am ready to pick up where I left off with the Wanderers and to hopefully add some more club milestones and records to the tally. As a Western Sydney local, I understand the importance of playing with passion and pride and I’m so excited for the season ahead.”

The club have also re-signed talented teenager Ella Abdul Massih and Danika Matos.

Perth Glory Unveil New Season Kits

Artwork: Perth Glory.

Perth Glory’s brand new Macron home and away kits for the 2022/23 A-Leagues Season have been revealed.

Headlining the launch is the dramatically reworked new home shirt which features two orange stripes running from collar to hem.

With alternating purple and orange colour blocks trimming the sleeves and orange also inlaid into the sleek collar, the shirt is a mixture of a futuristic design feature with nods to proud club tradition.

The away kit, meanwhile, sees the club return to a classic white colourway which is texturally styled with a chevron shadow weave and trimmed with a simple purple collar and cuffs.

There is also an extra nod to the club’s home on the back of the away shirt in the form of an embossed image of the Perth skyline. The shirts are currently available for pre-order.

Artwork: Perth Glory.

Matildas In The WSL: The Curious Case Of Caitlin Foord

Ahead of this weekend’s big North London derby in the WSL, Impetus’ Jonathan Tay profiles Arsenal’s Australian star Caitlin Foord (22/9/22).

Above: Caitlin Foord on the move against Brighton and Hove Albion last week. Photo: @ArsenalWFC.

Chest flat on the ground, Caitlin Foord looked skyward with arms outstretched, searching for the payoff which never arrived.

With a trademark feint and burst of speed during the second friendly of the recent series against Canada, Foord provoked an errant, stray leg from opposing wingback Marie Levasseur.

And though a resultant penalty was not given, the process to get into that position was certainly encouraging – the short clip below highlights this:

https://www.youtube.com/clip/UgkxJxFUN1l2hRaasHTwTm_fIBubP-2kvEiw

These moments and actions haven’t always been there for Foord; whether due to form or injury, the Arsenal winger has not been able to consistently translate her club displays to her games for her country.

Arguably, this was the 27-year-old’s most salient overall performance for Australia for some time; excluding the 18-0 Asian Cup thrashing of Indonesia, she’s been on a barren run of zero goals and zero assists in green and gold for just over a year. On this night though, we saw the same player who’s been thriving in England.

In her 66 minutes, she racked up the second-most dribbles, won the third-most duels, and completed the most progressive runs on the night for the Matildas. Post-match, Foord commented, “How it looked is how it felt for us as well. We felt like we were dominating, we felt like it felt like us again, and were a bit unlucky not to score more.”

It was business as usual in Arsenal’s opening match in the Women’s Super League, where Foord was the most dangerous outlet for the Gunners in the first half.

Admittedly, they did not meet fierce resistance, with a red card reducing Brighton to 10 players after just seven minutes. But the Australian nevertheless stuck to her brief well; maintaining her side’s width out on the left, grafting away on the last line of defence, and taking on her defenders in one-on-one duels.

It was a productive evening for Foord, continuously testing Brighton’s overmatched Jorja Fox, including a slick play to sit the right-back on the ground before laying on the assist for the first goal in a 4-0 win.

The Australian completed the second-most progressive runs for her side (behind Beth Mead on the right wing), and five of six attempted dribbles, resulting in four chance-creating carries (per Opta).

Above: Foord’s attempted dribbles, all around the 18-yard box. Source: Wyscout

It’s poised to be somewhat of a make-or-break season for Foord, where she faces competition for her starting spot from Katie McCabe, England Euros hero Mead, and new Swedish signing Lina Hurtig. Arsenal expect another title-challenging campaign, and with readily-available depth in the squad, regular provision of impact and output is a requirement.

With the World Cup just around the corner next July, Matildas fans and Foord herself will also be hoping for more of the same at the international level. Reminders won’t be needed that Australia lost both of the Canadian friendlies, continuing a worrying trend in their record against teams in the top 20 world rankings.

Elaborating further after the second of those losses, Foord concluded, “We don’t have that much time together leading into the World Cup, so that’s why these moments, it’s really important to build on that and take that into the next game and learn.”

“It’s disappointing to have these losses, but the bigger picture is what we’re working towards, and it’s easy to forget about that when you don’t get the result you want so we’re just trying to stay positive.”

The winger is hoping that her hard work domestically does eventually lead to more tangible results for Australia as well. “That’s [their domestic clubs] the place we spend most of our time, and although we’re in our club shirt, the picture is leading towards the World Cup,” she summerised.

“We’re going to try to get better there, fitter, and then come back into national team camp and bring our momentum from our clubs. Hopefully, by mid-season, we’ll be flying.”

Adran Premier Wrap Week Two

Impetus’ Martin Townley brings us the first of his weekly round-up of all the action from the top flight of women’s football in Wales with Round Two of the season taking place (22/9/22).

Above: Stacey John-Davis scores the winning goal for Swansea City against Barry Town United. Photo: Swansea City.

Both Swansea City and Cardiff City continued their winning ways, while Cardiff Met bounced back from defeat last week to pick up their first win.  Pontypridd United also picked up their first win as they beat Aberystwyth Town. 

Both Abergavenny Town and The New Saints are still looking for their first points with both sides losing both their opening matches.  Barry Town were denied a point after a strong performance against champions Swansea City. 

Swansea City 1-0 Barry Town United

Having won both fixtures 5-0 last season, Swansea were expected to win. They did, but only by a goal as a resilient defence performance by Barry meant Stacy John-Davis’s penalty was all that separated the two sides at Llandarcy Academy of Sport. 

Monet Legall broke past the Barry defence into the box but was brought down by Barry keeper Erin Brennan.  John-Davis stepped and as she does so often fired the ball into the top right corner. With Swansea in control of most of the game, Jessica Williams volleyed an effort over after a cross from Ellie Lake. 

In the second half, Williams headed wide from another Lake cross and Katy Hosford and John-Davis tried to catch Brennan off her line with lobs but couldn’t find the net. 

Swansea City: Claire Skinner, Alicia Powe, Ellie Lake, Emma Beynon, Kelly Adams, Katy Hosford, Stacey John-Davis, Monet Legall (Nia Rees 58), Lucy Finch, Laura Davies (Nieve Jenkins 71), Jessica Williams. Unused subs: Chelsea Herbert, Chloe Tiley, Gwenan Horgan.

Barry Town United: Erin Brennan, Lauren Harris, Delia Ebbin, Hana Bennett, Taite Trivett (Nia Davies 65), Anna Houghton, Mackenzie Olden (Rhian Thomas 77 (Olivia Townsend 87)), Manon Pearce, Emily Nicholson (Maisy Fahey-Pennell 65), Faith Mulenga, Chloe Jones. Unused subs: Ruby Hamed-Jones.

Abergavenny Town 0-5 Cardiff City

Above: Joy for Cardiff City as they comprehensively defeated Abergavenny Town. Photo: Cardiff City,

Cardiff made it two from two as they hammered newly promoted Abergavenny at Pen-Y-Pound Stadium.  Two first-half goals from Danielle Green gave the Bluebirds the lead at the break.  Danielle Broadhurst made it 3-0 just before the hour mark.  Captain Siobhan Walsh added a fourth and Rhianne Oakley made it five with her first goal for Cardiff after moving from Swansea in the summer. 

Green was looking dangerous throughout the opening 45 minutes, and it was a pass from Phoebie Poole that found her free in the box.  Green with a clinical finish to score. Green got her second firing in at the back post after a ball to her from Hannah Power. 

The Bluebirds kept the pressure on The Pennies in the second half and were rewarded when Danielle Broadhurst finished off a flowing move. Soon after and Seren Watkin’s corner was turned in by a powerful header from Siobhan Walsh.  Rianne Oakley added a fifth after 74 minutes. 

Abergavenny Town: Charlotte Hastings, Katie Williams, Ffion Simmonds, Mali Summers, Scarlett Teague, Olivia Barnes, Ceri Hudson (C), Elena Scrivens (Mia Sherrard 68), Ellis Lunn (Caitlin Davies 45), Eliza Atkins (Gracie Grosvenor 54), Lauren Boyd (Elie Bidhendy 85). Unused Subs: Neve Speicher.

Cardiff City: Ceryn Chamberlain (Emily Roberts 68), Ffion Price (Elise Hughes 65), Hannah Power, Siobhan Walsh (C), Rhianne Oakley, Seren Watkins, Danielle Broadhurst (Lilly Billingham 68), Danielle Green, Phoebie Poole (Megan Saunders 68), Hollie Smith (Megan Bowen 65), Zoe Atkins.

Cardiff Met 3-0 The New Saints

Cardiff Met got their season running with a 3-0 win over The New Saints (TNS) at Cyncoed Campus.  It was a second defeat for TNS and leaves them in seventh place.

Robyn Pinder got the Archers off to a good start with her first goal for the club after just eight minutes. Ellie Preece made it two nil after 13 minutes and Met went into the break leading. 

Preece added a third with her second in the second half and help Cardiff Met to their first win of the season. 

Cardiff Met: Amelia Forkings, Amy Long, Grace Corne, Tija Richardson, Sophie Turner (C), Sophie Hancocks, Ellie Preece (Kennesha Nanette 89), Jessica Westhoff (Emily Allen 57), Erin Murray (Evie Griffiths 74), Robyn Pinder, Elianna Chavez. Unused Subs: Millie Everest.

The New Saints:  Sarah Parkes (Libby Rubin 34), Beth Lewis (C), Jen Jarvie (Nicole Samson 49), Lexie Harrison, Danielle Staley, Lucie Platt, Tia Lockley, Caitlin Chapman, Helen Evans (Lily Whitefoot 85), Isobel Redding, Lia Lewis.

Aberystwyth Town 1-2 Pontypridd United

Above: Pontypridd United – who defeated Aberystwyth Town 2-1. Photo: Pontypridd Town,

Pontypridd Town picked up a big away win as they beat Aberystwyth 2-1 at Park Avenue.  Liv Francis and Alanna Trinci with the goals for the Dragons and Tania Wylde for Aber. 

It was a good first half for the Dragons as despite the hosts having the better of the possession, Liv Francis give the visitors the lead just before half-time.

Anais Trinci with her first goal of the season made it 2-0 to Pontypridd.  The Green and Blacks looked to get back into the game and with just over ten minutes to play pulled one back thanks to a penalty from Tania Wylde. 

Aber couldn’t complete the fight back and manager Gavin Allen rued his side’s missed chances. “We created so many chances without taking some fantastic opportunities to win the game,

“On reflection, we should have been two or three nil up at halftime. But that’s the level of football. If you don’t take your chances, teams in the Adran Premier will come back and bite you.”

Aberystwyth Town:  Elen Valentine, Lucie Gwilt (Hannah Pusey 62), Rebecca Mathias, Elin Jones, Bethan Roberts (Tania Wylde 68), Kelly Thomas, Libby Isaac (Kelsey Thomas 59), Shauna Chambers (Gwenllian Jones 59), Carys Davies (Ffiona Evans 46), Amy Jenkins.

Pontypridd Town:  Masie Jones, Clare Daley, Holly Broad (C), Emily Bayliss (Kirsty Pervin-Davies 68), Renee Day (Olivia Barnett 59), Ellie Gunney, Liv Francis (Sophie Bevan 90+7), Anais Trinci (Paige Ward 90+7), Shannon Greenway, Carys Bufton (Efa Preece-Jones 68), Jasmine Turner.

Graphic: Adran Premier.

Double Delight For City Fans As Henry & Pollicina Sign

Impetus’ Ben Gilby hears from both Bryleeh Henry and Rhianna Pollicina plus Melbourne City head coach Rado Vidosic as City announce two key signings ahead of the new A-League Women season (22/9/22).

Above: Bryleeh Henry’s arrival is a big piece of business for Rado Vidosic’s club. Artwork: Melbourne City.

Melbourne City have made two big additions to their 2022/23 squad, starting with the news that 19-year-old Matildas forward, Bryleeh Henry has joined the club for the next two years. 

Henry, who made her Matildas debut in October last year, arrives in Victoria after making 21 appearances for Western Sydney Wanderers across the last two seasons. 

She also recently was part of the Young Matildas squad for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, playing under Rado Vidosic who was the teams’ Assistant Coach. Henry started all three fixtures and got on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win over Costa Rica. 

Vidosic said that Henry will further add to the teams attacking depth and provide another exciting option on the pitch this season. 

“We’re excited to be bringing one of the brightest young attackers in the country to our club for the next two years. She’s a player we’ve been following for a long time and she has always performed well when playing against us. 

“Bryleeh has an enormous amount of potential and importantly, she’s also a good person whose values fit well within the culture of the group.” 

Henry said she was “super excited” by the opportunity to join City and continue to work under Vidosic. 

“Melbourne City’s one of the biggest clubs in Australia and having worked with Rado over the past couple of months and talking to him before that as well, I knew this was the best environment for me,” Henry said. 

“Personally, I’m just hoping to have a good season and really grow to become the best player that I can possibly be. Under Rado and with a great group of girls around me, I think that’s something that’s really achievable.” 

Pollicina Delighted To Re-Sign

Artwork: Melbourne City.

The re-signing of Rhianna Pollicina is another piece of good news for Sky Blues fans. Pollicina enjoyed a breakout campaign in her first season at the club, starting in all 16 fixtures, and scoring seven goals. 

That scoring record, including a midseason run of goals in four consecutive games – to finish equal sixth in the Golden Boot, while also passing off three further assists. 

Pollicina was voted PFA Player of the Month by her peers in both January and February, while she also took out the Coaches Award at City’s Player of the Year night. 

Head Coach Rado Vidosic said he was delighted to have Pollicina back at City for the new season. “Rhianna is a player we had high expectations for last season, and she was still able to exceed those. 

“She brings a great energy to the group and helps set the standard for what’s expected both on the training pitch and on matchday. Rhianna’s consistency across last season brought stability to the team and we can’t wait to see her continue to work hard and go to another level in 2022/23.” 

Pollicina herself said the professionalism at City made it an easy decision to return to Melbourne and continue to push for silverware after coming so close last season. 

“I absolutely loved my first season with City. We had a great bunch of girls and coaching staff which led us to having a successful season on and off the field. This season I just want to keep improving and to be the best teammate I can, both on and off the pitch. 

“As a team we want to build on last year and to continue to push for more success as a squad for the club and fans.”