ALW GF Report: City 0-1 Sydney FC

A goal on the counter was the difference at AAMI Park as City dominated proceedings and were the best team on the night, but couldn’t find a way through.

Shea Connors’ strike in the 69th minute was the difference, Sydney capitalising on their sole chance while City couldn’t find a way through despite repeated efforts on goal.

Team News

There was just one change from the Semi Final second leg, with Bárbara unable to overcome injury in goal, replaced by Melissa Barbieri.

Emily Shields joined the squad to provide cover between the sticks, and Tijan McKenna was added to the bench in place of the injured Shelby McMahon (shin).

Starting XI: 23. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 22. Bryleeh HENRY, 5. Taylor OTTO, 13. Rebekah STOTT (C), 7. Julia GROSSO, 18. Leah DAVIDSON, 14. Laura HUGHES, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 17. Hannah WILKINSON, 11. Emina EKIC, 24. Daniela GALIC.

Substitutes: 30. Emily SHIELDS (GK), 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 6. Leticia McKENNA, 19. Tijan McKENNA, 20. Caitlin KARIC.

What happened?

Melissa Barbieri started her first Grand Final with two strong saves, keeping out a header from a free kick and grabbing the ensuing corner to stop Sydney’s quick start in its tracks.

City almost made the opening breakthrough, a free kick finding Hannah Wilkinson on the 6-yard box to force a good save from keeper Jada Whyman, before Rhianna Pollicina put Wilkinson through in near identical fashion, but the ball skidded just too much.

Bryleeh Henry was busy early, giving Dani Galic the ball and leaving a defender on the ground to just be denied by Whyman.

Laura Hughes went about her business in the midfield, marshalling the troops as City controlled the game with Henry showing off her pace from right back to close Sydney down whenever they moved forward.

A-League Women’s Young Footballer of the Year Galic again skilled her opponents, turning and knocking the ball on to herself and playing a one-two with Hughes, sliding the ball across goal as the pressure kept building on the Sky Blues as we approached the break.

It took just moments after the restart for another chance to come, Ekic played through for a shot that was blocked, before another chance went just wide after strong buildup play.

Searching for the moment to break through, it almost came through Davidson, then Ekic, who went through no fewer than 4 defenders before the ball was cleared away.

Focusing down the left before executing the switch to the right, Taylor Otto was almost the one to score, her cross-goal shot just kissing the far post.

After a short stoppage and a couple of Sydney subs, the visitors pounced on the counter, making use of one of their only chance all game to score through Shea Connors as we entered the final 20 minutes.

Otto kept the fight alive, making strong tackles as our speedy back 4 meant that Sydney couldn’t get away with the game.

We came close to equalising twice in two minutes as the pressure reached boiling point, with Davidson’s shot first deflected off the goal line, the second chance moments later from Pollicina went just over from close range.

Pinballing around the box it fell to Henry who curved over the pack goalwards, but a diving save from Whyman denied her.

Caitlin Karic was subbed on for Davidson, and with everyone pushed forward we entered 9 minutes of stoppage time.

Pushing right to the end, Henry put in a perfect cross that almost ended in the back of the net, but it just wasn’t to be as Sydney eventually walked away winners on the day.