Match Report: Canberra 0-1 City

Melbourne City has made a strong start to its 2021/22 Liberty A-League campaign, securing an important 0-1 win away to Canberra United on Friday night. Holly McNamara impressed on her competitive debut, netting a stunning goal in the 80th minute to win the game for City.

Starting XI

In his first lineup of the 2021/22 Liberty A-League season, Rado Vidosic named five club debutants in Kaitlyn Torpey, Winonah Heatley, Rhianna Pollicina, Holly McNamara and Hannah Wilkinson. In a surprise move, Rebekah Stott started in midfield, whilst 17-year-old rising star Naomi Chinnama was named in City’s back three alongside Heatley and skipper Emma Checker.

What happened?

The opening stages of the match saw frequent opportunities for either side; Canberra were finding success by playing in behind City’s wing-backs, whilst Stott and Wilkinson were proving their quality to create chances for the likes of McNamara and Pollicina up the other end.

Following that frantic opening period, the chances dried up as either team sought to implement control over the encounter. Canberra continued to exploit space in behind, whilst City struggled to find a rhythm with its passing as balls were too frequently overhit, leading to turnovers.

The first half continued largely uneventful, with the scores locked at 0-0 heading into the break.

City burst out of the blocks in the second period, racking up chance after chance in the opening 15 minutes. Headers from corners from Pollicina and Chinnama respectively fell either side of a great double opportunity for Wilkinson in the 54th minute. The Kiwi’s initial shot inside the area was well-saved initially, but the ball bobbled behind the keeper for Wilkinson to run onto. Unfortunately, the angle that she took the final shot from was too great, with the ball finding only the side netting.

An opportunity for Stott followed in the 58th minute, with Wilkinson’s compatriot receiving the ball inside the penalty area and setting herself up with a quality first touch, but Canberra’s Keeley Richards was able to save sharply.

Again, City continued to tighten the screws, peppering Canberra’s over the following 10 minutes with an on-target distance strike from Pollicina and a shot from a narrow angle from Wilkinson which forced a good overhead save from Richards.

City’s dominance was finally rewarded in the 80th minute, with the opening goal arriving through an incredible strike from McNamara on debut. The youngster sized up her defender at the edge of the area before cutting inside and curling her shot into the far corner to finally beat the in-form Richards.

The team held on well from there on, seeing out a crucial three points to open their account for Season 2021/22.

What’s next?

The victory sends us to the top of the table until we learn the results of the remainder of Round 1’s games, but the performance might be even more rewarding, instilling a sense of confidence amongst the team ahead of next weekend’s Melbourne Derby in Round 2.