ALW SF Leg 1 Preview: Newcastle v City

It’s Semi Final time for the A-League Women’s Premiers, your City Women taking on Newcastle in the first leg away from home.

Finals football begins now as our campaign for the double continues in Newcastle. An important opportunity awaits against the 6th-finishing Jets to come home with a leg-up in the tie.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the first game of our Finals campaign.

Unfinished business

After a heartbreaking exit last season at the hands of Melbourne Victory – who have already been eliminated this time around – our City Women will look to make amends by going one better this year.

With two sets of 90 minutes (plus extra time and penalties if needed) to work with, our high-flying Premiers are well placed to secure a first Grand Final appearance in four years.

Star fullback Julia Grosso is clear in her goal to add to her first silverware in just her second pro season.

“We’re focused; winning the premiership was amazing, but we have our eyes on the double now,” she said when speaking to media last week.

With much of the same team as last year hungry to make it to the biggest stage, including Grosso, you can expect a strong performance as we aim to bring back a lead to AAMI Park.

Continuing a great head-to-head run

Finishing in 6th on goal difference and having never beaten us in 14 attempts, our opponents welcome us back to Newcastle after we took the three points home to Melbourne when we last visited in November.

That day it was a never-say-die performance from City, with Matilda Holly McNamara scoring in the 78th and 92nd minute to secure the three points before sadly going down with an ACL injury.

While that day may have been a struggle in front of goal other than the McNamara magic, there is no shortage of options to step up this time; with high-scoring stars such as Rhianna Pollicina (6 goals, 3 assists), Hannah Wilkinson (9 goals) and Emina Ekic (7 goals, 3 assists) to be supported by Premiership-winning-goal scorer Shelby McMahon and fellow wunderkind Daniela Galic (6 goals, 5 assists).

Options aplenty for Dario Vidosic to choose from is a change from last time out against the Jets, with close to a full playing squad to pick from compared to the team fielded in our Wilko-inspired 2-0 win at the City Football Academy last month where we were missing several starters through injury.

How does Galic fit in?

It’s been a fantastic season for our midfield young gun, who was recently the only Australian named in the prestigious GOAL NXGN Women’s list, recognising the 25 best wonderkids worldwide.

After returning from Young Matildas duty where she helped lead the team to a third-placed finish at the AFC U20 Asian Cup last month, she was only seen as an impact substitute for our final two regular season fixtures.

Now having well and truly settled back in at home with three weeks break between games, Vidosic will surely be looking to bring the starlet back into the starting XI – but at who’s expense is the big question.

There’s no doubt that whoever comes out will be quite unlucky after great performances across the pitch in our 2-1 win over Perth to secure the Premiers Plate.

Leticia McKenna could move to the bench with Galic taking up a position on the wing as we saw earlier in the season, or perhaps the more likely option would be one of Laura Hughes or Leah Davidson being squeezed out of midfield.

Regardless of how the team looks on Sunday, there’s certain to be plenty of quality right across the starting XI and substitutes bench.

Match Details

A-League Women Semi Final: Leg 1

Newcastle Jets v Melbourne City FC

Sunday, April 21, 3:00pm KO

Maitland Sports Ground, Newcastle

Live on 10play and Paramount+