Jasmyne Spencer netted a superb hat-trick as Melbourne City FC recorded its first win of the new Westfield W-League campaign with a 3-1 victory over Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Friday night.
Spencer opened the scoring in the first-half before adding two goals after the break to take home the match ball in her first home appearance for the Club.
The American was a livewire in attack throughout the contest and left to a standing ovation from the City faithful when substituted in the latter stages, while Matildas star Elise Kellond-Knight starred in midfield during an impressive debut in City colours.
It was a return to home comforts for a City side looking to register its first win of the new campaign after a testing opening round encounter against Canberra.
Rado Vidosic’s team, who were without of several key players in the 2-0 reverse in the nation’s capital, received a welcome boost in the middle of the park with the return of Yukari Kinga and the inclusion of Kellond-Knight for her first City appearance.
City’s newly-formed midfield duo stamped its authority on the contest early as the hosts dominated possession in the early stages.
The first chance of the match came via a set piece, however, as the ever-dangerous Spencer came within a whisker of nodding home Lauren Barnes’ teasing free-kick, only to be beaten to the ball by a strong punch from Sydney ‘keeper Bledsoe.
Spencer was proving to be a headache for Sydney in the final third and it was a barnstorming run from the American speedster which produced the game’s opening goal.
Given space to dribble outside the penalty area, Spencer put the afterburners on, burst through three Sydney defenders and showed composure to poke the ball high into the roof of the net to give City a deserved lead.
The chances continued to flow for City as Rebekah Stott stung the palms of Bledsoe with a shot from distance, but the visitors were soon on level terms against the run of play.
Samantha McCaskill split open the City defence with a delightful ball into the path of De Vanna who was then denied superbly by Lydia Williams, only for Sawyer to react quickest and tap home into an empty net to level the scores.
The visitors began the second half as they ended the first and had two golden chances to take the lead. Sayer will wonder how she didn’t complete her brace only a minute after the restart when De Vanna’s square ball eluded her, while Williams had to be at her best to claw out Foord’s goal-bound header only moments later.
Those missed opportunities proved costly as Spencer punished the visitors by restoring City’s advantage in the 48th minute. A sweeping counter saw Helen Caceres break down the left before squaring up to the onrushing Spencer, who hammered home emphatically with a side-footed finish.
The American wasn’t done yet, with her final goal on the hour-mark arguably the pick of the bunch as she rifled home past Bledsoe at the near-post after being played through by a neat pass from Rhali Dobson.
City was made to play the final 15 minutes a player down after Chelsea Blissett rather harshly received her marching orders with a straight red card, but aside from two solid Williams interventions in the latter stages, Vidosic’s side saw out the match comfortably to register its first win of the new campaign.
Melbourne City FC: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 2. Yukari KINGA, 3 Lauren BARNES, 4. Chelsea BLISSETT, 5. Helen CACERES (10. Nia STAMATOPOULOS 90+4), 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 11. Rhali DOBSON, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 19. Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 22. Jasmyne SPENCER (12. Adriana JONES 89’), 88. Theresa NIELSEN
Substitutes not used: 18. Aimee MEDIWIN, 23. Melissa BARBIERi (GK)
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: Blissett 79’
Sydney FC: 1. Aubrey BLEDSOE (GK), 2. Teresa POLIAS (C), 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Rachel SOUTAR, 9. Caitlin FOORD, 10. Savannah McCASKILL (25. Darcey MALONE 86’), 11. Lisa DE VANNA (21. Julia VIGNES 69’), 12. Natalie TOBIN, 17. Angelique HRISTODOULOU, 19. Amy SAYER (10.Princess IBINI-ISEI 56’), 22. Sofia HUERTA
Substitutes not used: 30. Trudy BURKE (GK)
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil