Full disclosure – Sydney FC are my W-League team. I love them. I would probably give a non-essential limb to see Chloe Logarzo succeed.  I have watched the dabbing celebration between de Vanna and Logarzo probably about 20 times. A had a little cry after the grand final last year. I want them to win, okay?

I hate City as a concept, obviously, but it’s hard to hate the team. I am a card-carrying member of both the KK and Lydia Williams fan clubs, as well as a Yukari Kinga enthusiast, so it was difficult to not be excited about this grand final rematch.

Alas…

Melbourne City 3 – Sydney FC 1

“Well I guess that didn’t work out, did it?” said my entirely un-invested in football partner. Thanks, love, I really appreciate that.

Melbourne City started off dominating the game and never really relinquished that domination. There was a period after Sydney’s goal in the first half where the game could have gone either way – and, had a series of chances for Sydney gone in just after the half time break it would have made a world of difference – but you got the sense after City’s second that they were never going to give up the lead.

A straight red card for a professional foul to Blissett in the 77thminute gave Sydney some hope but somehow, some way, City kept getting in the way. Theresa Nielsen was incredibly impressive in defense and Lydia Williams was a brick wall in goal.

When I settled down to watch the game at 5.20pm (don’t even get me started on double headers) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Sydney had started the season incredibly impressively but Melbourne has proven their quality year after year. Even after a first round setback to Canberra, they were always going to come out hard here and it showed.

They dominated the possession throughout the game but particularly in the first half. Sydney seemed to sit back and aim to score on the counter. City’s press troubled them and it seemed inevitable when Jasmyne Spencer pounced to score off of an errant pass from Logarzo. 1-0. Bastards.

It wasn’t long until Sydney made one of their counter attacks count. Despite their lack of possession they did look like they could, possibly, pull something out of a hat on the counter with De Vanna on the wing and they did just that for their goal. A beautiful ball from McCaskill put it on a plate for De Vanna. Williams managed to parry it away but only into the path of 16-year-old Amy Sayer, who slotted it home for a goal on her Sydney FC debut.

It stayed equal going into half time. Time for a breather, some Pimms, a cheeky uber eats order, and we go again.

I’m going to refer to the second half as the ‘Lydia Williams half’. Yes, Jasmyne Spencer eventually scored a hattrick, but Williams was the player of the half for me. She made a number of vital saves – the most vital of which was immediately after the break, where she lept into the cobwebs in the top corner of the goal to parry away a Logarzo header. It was barely a minute after that when Spencer was released to score her second goal and Sydney heads dropped. By the 60thminute, she had her hattrick and the mountain for Sydney to climb just continued to grow.

Sydney launched wave after wave of attack but were consistently undone by either a desperate boot from a City defender or a Williams save. They were also doing themselves no favours with a number of errant passes in the midfield. City won the midfield battle, hands down, and it clearly showed when the Sky Blues tried to press back at City. Kinga and Kellond-Knight are pure class for City. Logarzo in particular (I hate typing this) had an off game and neither she nor her teammates could conjure up the necessary creativity to find a way into the back of the net.

The sending off of Blissett was the main negative for City. It was controversial but by the book it may well have been the right decision. I have to say it was a relief to see the referee not run over to a comical tiny screen while we all roll our eyes for 5 minutes. There was very little carry on from her teammates either which is always reassuring to see. Decision made, move on.

It’s not panic stations for Sydney yet. They had an off day and played far from their best. It happens. It seems an overreaction to worry too much, especially since City played very similarly last week against Canberra. If Sydney can get their midfield sorted they will continue to be a force to reckon with and the return of Alanna Kennedy at the back will be invaluable.

The main thing is that no one in this extremely Tillie-heavy game got injured. At least I’ll be able to go from begrudgingly half cheering Lydia Williams’ stunning saves to actually being able to enjoy them next Saturday.

Featured Image from Westfield W-League Twitter page.

By Taryn Heddo