Melbourne City will have the opportunity to become the first team to win back-to-back Westfield W-League titles when it takes on Perth Glory in the Grand Final at nib Stadium on Sunday.
What a nail-biting way to seal a second consecutive Grand Final berth.
In a titanic Semi-Final encounter, Jess Fishlock’s extra-time winner ensured City would get the chance to defend its W-League crown after defeating Canberra United in a thrilling contest at GIO Stadium last week.
City are certainly no strangers to progressing to the Grand Final in heart stopping fashion. Last season, it took the lottery of a penalty shootout to defeat a valiant Brisbane Roar in the Semi Final on the way to claiming a historic Premiership and Championship double.
This time, it required 120 minutes of engrossing football to finally overcome Canberra, the newly-crowned Premiers, on their own turf.
City produced an all-round display of fighting spirit, defensive steel and ruthlessness in attack to defeat Canberra. Laura Alleway was immovable in the heart of defence – as she has been on so many occasions this season – meeting every aerial challenge with force and decisiveness. Lydia Williams, returning to the city she called home for seven seasons, continued her stellar season between the posts with a string of fine saves to deny her former team in both normal and extra time.
But it had to be Fishlock who produced the goods when it counted most for her team, reacting quickest to Marianna Tabain’s cleared corner before poking the ball home past a despairing Trudy Burke in the 107th minute to send her side all the way to the Final.
Needless to say, City’s Interim Head Coach and midfield general was delighted with her team’s performance and to have scored the winner.
“It feels better than pretty good. It feels brilliant actually. When I saw it go in, it was one of the best feelings I’ve had,” Fishlock said post-match.
“It was a tough game out there but I’m really pleased that we came out there and got the win. It was a really professional performance from us.”
Standing in City’s way of securing back-to-back Championships is a Perth Glory side brimming with confidence after coming from behind to defeat Sydney FC in the other Semi Final.
In the only meeting between the two sides this season, the Glory prevailed 3-2 in a genuine thriller at AAMI Park. A see-sawing contest included a couple of comebacks, and some goals that wouldn’t have been out of place in any league in the world.
Perth dynamo Samantha Kerr was the hero that day with a brace, two of 10 goals so far this season. Possessing great speed, pace and power, the Matildas forward will be the one City’s defenders must watch very closely.
The journey to the Grand Final may not have been as smooth sailing as last season, but City enter Sunday’s W-League showpiece with the golden word that can make or break a team – momentum. With three wins on the spin and a title to defend, one could argue City are well placed to create W-League history once more.
From the Dressing Room
A good luck message from Manchester
How to watch the Grand Final
We’re only one step away from achieving Westfield W-League history. You can catch Sunday’s blockbuster Grand Final live on Fox Sports 505 and ABC TV. Alternatively, you can follow all the match action as it happens on our official Twitter account, @MelbCityWFC
Westfield W-League – Grand Final
Sunday 12 February 2017
Perth Glory vs Melbourne City FC
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 4:30pm (local), 7:30pm (AEDT, Melbourne time)
Perth Glory squad: 1.Melissa MAIZELS (gk), 2.Sarah CARROLL, 3.Kim CARROLL, 4.Alyssa MAUTZ, 5.Patricia CHARALAMBOUS, 6.Carla BENNETT, 7.Nicole STANTON, 8.Shawn BILLAM, 9.Rosie SUTTON, 10.Vanessa DIBERNARDO, 13.Jaymee GIBBONS, 14.Caitlin DOEGLAS, 17.Natasha RIGBY, 18.Gabrielle DAL BUSCO (gk), 20.Samantha KERR (c), 22.Arianna ROMERO
Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Lauren BARNES, 4. Rachel BINNING, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 12.Olivia ELLIS, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Beverly YANEZ, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 20.Emily SHIELDS (gk) **two to be omitted**
Ins: 4. Rachel BINNING 12.Olivia ELLIS (promoted),
Unavailable: 9.Larissa CRUMMER (foot – season)