Melbourne City celebrated our first game at City Football Academy in style, securing a hard-fought 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix.
Rhianna Pollicina and Emina Ekic were both on the scoresheet in the second half, before a late goal to the Phoenix ensured the fight was on right until the final whistle.
Starting XI: 44. Lysianne PROULX (GK), 16. Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 5. Taylor OTTO, 13. Rebekah STOTT (C), 7. Julia GROSSO, 14. Laura HUGHES, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 24. Daniela GALIC, 8. Kaitlyn TORPEY, 11. Emina EKIC, 17. Hannah WILKINSON.
Substitutes: 23. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 6. Leticia McKENNA, 18. Leah DAVIDSON, 22. Bryleeh HENRY.
The game settled into a familiar pattern rather quickly as we held virtually all of the early possession.
With 80% of the ball in the first 20 minutes, we were able to control the tempo and play the game at our pace.
Emina Ekic looked to be our most creative outlet in the first half but despite a few positive forays into the Wellington box, clear-cut chances were hard to come by.
Rebekah Stott was as strong as ever in defence ensuring the little time on the ball Wellington did have wouldn’t amount to much, and she was backed up well by the rest of her back four who all looked rock solid.
The second half would prove to be a much more open affair and City started it strongly, Ekic having an early chance but shooting over the bar.
The opener would arrive just minutes later after some great work from Julia Grosso driving into the box, before playing a smart pass into the path of Rhianna Pollicina who coolly turned it home from close range.
We had a golden chance to double the lead in the 62nd minute when Daniela Galic dribbled her way into the box and her cross deflected off a defender and the post before falling to Wilkinson in front of goal, but the New Zealand international missed the target.
It wouldn’t prove to be pivotal though as we’d find the second 10 minutes later through Emina Ekic.
It was once again Galic pulling the strings, this time dribbling through midfield before finding the Bosnian international on the left, who beat two defenders before burying her strike into the bottom corner.
Wellington began to heap on the pressure for the final 20 minutes, forcing Lysianne Proulx into a couple of good saves before Mariana Speckmaier found a way past with little over 10 minutes to play.
Emina Ekic was shown a second yellow card in the 86th minute meaning we’d have to finish the game – including six minutes of added time – with 10 players, but a stout defensive effort from our City Women ensured we’d walk away with all three points.
We’ll host Western United next Thursday night at AAMI Park in the first leg of a public holiday eve doubleheader!