Melbourne City FC will seek to secure its place in the 2022 A-League Women Grand Final when it takes to the pitch against Melbourne Victory in its upcoming home Preliminary Final.
Rado Vidosic’s side would be the fifth City team to make it to an A-League Women’s Grand Final in our seven-year history in the competition.
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The City girls appeared to have one foot already in the Grand Final when they took a 2-0 lead in the second-half of their Semi-Final against Sydney FC last Friday, but a wild half hour that included two Sky Blue goals and a City red card saw the encounter go to extra-time. From there, Sydney made the extra number count, piling on two further goals before City also saw goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri sent off for handling the ball outside of her area.
That Semi Final result, paired with Melbourne Victory’s Elimination Final win over Adelaide United, now sets up a mouth-watering Melbourne Derby clash in the Preliminary Final to decide who will take on the Sky Blues in the season decider.
That Victory result came as a surprise to many, with Adelaide widely-tipped to progress to the Preliminary stage following their red-hot finish to the regular season, a period in which they’d beaten Victory 3-0.
However, last weekend it was Jeff Hopkins’ Victory who would secure the all-important win, recording a 2-1 result thanks to goals from Lia Privitelli and Melina Ayres.
Victory accounted for United fairly comfortably in what was one of their best performances of the season, undermining their previous form of five games without a win.
Hopkins’ side has been patchy ever since its 5-1 Melbourne Derby defeat the last time it came up against City, with Hannah Wilkinson running rampant on that occasion by scoring all five in what was a historic performance.
City’s Kiwi striker has been in great form since returning from international duty, scoring four goals in her last three games. Wilkinson has moved to equal-second in City’s all-time goalscoring ranks and needs three more strikes to move level with Jess Fishlock on 17.
The task at hand for Vidosic’s side has been made more difficult by the suspensions of Vlajnic and Barbieri, but fantastic squad depth ensures that the City Head Coach will be able to call up some exciting talents into the lineup in their place.
Vlajnic has been replaced semi-frequently by Chelsea Blissett throughout this season, whether that be off the bench mid-game or in the starting lineup when the City veteran is rested, which most recently occurred against Western Sydney on the final day of our regular season.
Barbieri’s replacement is a little more certain, with Australian youth international Sally James set to make her first league start of the season after missing much of it through injury.
A-League Women Preliminary Final
Melbourne City FC vs Melbourne Victory FC
Sunday 20 March, kick-off 4:05pm