On the eve of this game, the word out of the Melbourne City was that they had a lot left in the tank. Despite sitting on top of the league table before this game, they didn’t feel that they had quite peaked yet. Honestly, watching them earlier in the season, I was inclined to agree – they seemed slow, lethargic, somehow off the pace.
Maybe now, after demolishing Canberra United, they can finally say that they are at the top of their game.
The women in green never looked in this game for a second. It wasn’t as if they necessarily had a bad game – they were just completely overwhelmed. City had all the ball, all the field position and (except for once or twice) all the chances, and there was very little Canberra could do about it.
I had barely looked up from my onion-chopping (I love Thursday night football but I have to be domestic, okay) when City scored their first. In a goal that made the heart of every Matildas fan sing, Kyah Simon found herself in space on the edge of the area and managed to place the ball neatly in the bottom corner of Sham Khamis’ net.
Honestly, this was the best overall game I’ve seen Kyah Simon have in a while. I’ll even be bold and say it’s the best I’ve seen her play in years. Not only was she clinical with her chances she was creating them. She set Emslie up a few times (who cannot buy a goal from open play at the moment, bless her) and only seemed to slow down come the second half where heat and fatigue no doubt played a role.
The next two goals were penalties, both fouls committed by Khamis. The first was a second attempt to take the ball out from under Emslie, who was through on goal and one on one, that unfortunately ended up taking out her legs instead. Emslie coolly slotted it home. The second was similar – a striker in the area, an attempt to smother the ball, a result of taking out the legs. This time Kyah Simon took the penalty, which meant that we witnessed some ~Dub Drama~ in the form of Emslie not being too happy about that. Still, she scored, meaning that the drama didn’t last and City went to the break 3-0 up.
Canberra came out after half time looking for something to take away from the game but struggled to find it. As always, Simone Charley (The Greatest Footballer In The Entire World, thank you very much) looked lively but she lacked good decision making for that final ball. They struggled to get traction up the flanks – Roestbakken can sometimes be a catalyst from the back but she had her hands full trying to mark Carpenter that her offensive duties had to be put back in the cupboard for the night.
Despite their toil, a hot night chasing City’s shadows was taking its toll on Canberra and the game looked like it was going to peter out. That was, at least, until Emily van Egmond found the ball at her feet on the edge of the penalty area. Her first touch somehow lifted the ball so that she was able to volley it over the head of a retreating Khamis and into the back of the net. Four goals was honestly what City deserved, given their dominance, and they never seriously looked in any danger of giving up the clean sheet.
It’s hard to read anything into this in terms of Canberra’s chances at sniping that fourth spot. Honestly, they were just outplayed. So long as their confidence doesn’t take too large of a hit, they should be focused on beating the teams around them and continuing to improve.
Melbourne City will be hard to beat this year on that evidence. They’ve fixed their stodginess problem. In playing more direct and at a higher tempo they are creating more opportunities and playing genuinely exciting football. They’re not even taking all their chances – they could’ve had 6 or 7 this game. Their clash with the Wanderers in Feb will be mouth-watering, and with Sydney dropping off the pace somewhat, could be a preview of the grand final.
I can get on board with a City side playing like this. Maybe.
By Taryn Heddo