I have experienced a lot of football related pain the last couple of weeks, first the Penrith Matildas game, then the useless bloody Socceroos, don’t even get me started on the Roar boys and now the first game I watch of my girls this season. I should stop attending games, clearly.
This game was a battle of the keepers, some excellent shot stopping was on display from both Mackenzie Arnold and Sarah Willacy. Frustratingly for Brisbane, Willacy was the star of the show. Shot after shot in the first half being parried away by Willacy, seemingly every penetrative effort into the box being pounced on and shut down by the 23-year-old. Not to say Macca didn’t have a good game of her own, but the amount of chances being created by Brisbane produced an acrobatic performance from the Adelaide Keeper. Of course, it wasn’t just the keepers with some world class stops, the crossbar redirected a shot early on by Adelaide midfielder Gunnhildur Jonsdottir (try saying that name ten times fast) and from where I was sitting behind the goal at the other end, hearts were in mouths waiting to see some reaction to whether the ball had bounced over the line. But the ball wouldn’t cross the line until the second half from a clever counter attacking build up after Willacy made a double save to deny Brisbane yet again down the other end. The game felt like it would end being a 0-0 draw based on the goalkeeping performances and how slow the game felt but Veronica Latsko managed to slide the winner past Macca Arnold to break the deadlock early in the second half and Brisbane just couldn’t beat Willacy.
It seemed to just be the wrong day for Brisbane who created a lot of chances but just couldn’t produce the killer finish. Our best chance came from a combination by Yuki Nagasato, our new Japanese recruit (my personal MVP of the NWSL this season), who cleverly played the ball through Adelaide’s defence out to the wing where Carson Pickett, whipped in a cross for Chioma Ubogagu to shoot at a difficult angle, only for it to be cleared away on the line by a sliding Laura Johns. It wasn’t the day for Brisbane but there were positive signs, it is still early and with Nagasato arriving only last week there hasn’t been enough time for a team chemistry to build, especially after losing some long standing players to other teams and injury.
With so many new players coming into the team this season it was surprising how exciting and together the Roar girls have looked during the first two rounds. Of course, the first match I can attend we don’t get a point, I will take the blame for it. Despite creating a lot of chances, we seemed quite flat and tired a lot of the match, which isn’t entirely surprising given the international fixtures last week. Ubogagu scoring on her debut for the Lionesses and Polkinghorne putting in two 90-minute performances for the Matildas.
I forgot momentarily Brisbane were playing Adelaide during the warm up, seeing green shorts (on the Keepers) and watching Heyman run past, it was Canberra. At least some things stay the same, Heyman was again underwhelming and ineffective in Brisbane. She made a few runs, called for the ball in the middle of the park but her teammates seemed to ignore her. From one team’s striker to the other, I want to talk about my love for Nagasato. Despite being a striker, she seems to play better in a more central role, having someone in front of her to play off to. She is very good at setting plays up rather than leading the attacking line, perhaps dropping her into an attacking midfield role and putting someone like Allira Toby in front of her might get some more goals for Brisbane. I think she’s one of the best signings in the W-league this season and possibly Brisbane’s best ever as long as she can keep playing the way she did during the NWSL season. A lot of pressure has already been put on her by the media and fans calling her the ‘Japanese Star’ and other similar stuff but I believe she can live up to the hype. Can you tell I’m a fan?
The W-league is looking very exciting and unpredictable this year, if you look at the current ladder Melbourne city are sitting eighth, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen the reigning champions sitting below third. Adelaide themselves didn’t have very high expectations from fans of the league this season with most seeming to tip Brisbane for the win, but after this 1-0 win against Roar the Lady Reds are sitting one spot above Brisbane in fourth. Chaotic and unpredictable is the kind of football I love to watch and it’s why I love the W-league. C ‘mon the full home and away season.
Featured Image from Brisbane Football Review Twitter page.