Melbourne City FC has secured their spot in the finals following a scintillating 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Saturday night.
With a finals place on the line, Patrick Kisnorbo’s side produced one of their best opening halves of the season, scoring three goals and securing three points.
Jodie Taylor opened the scoring, and her City account, when she tucked away a goal from close range in the 29th minute following a superb chip from Jess Fishlock.
Two brilliant set-pieces from Lauren Barnes then saw both Aivi Luik and Yukari Kinga head truly to hand City a 3-0 cushion into the half-time break.
The result sees City secure fourth place ahead of Canberra United, with the team set to face either Brisbane Roar or Sydney FC away from home in the Semi-Final depending on the result of tomorrow’s fixtures.
Head Coach Patrick Kisnorbo made one change to the starting XI that faced Brisbane Roar in Round 12, with England international Jodie Taylor replacing Ashley Hatch.
— Melbourne City Women (@MelbCityWFC) February 3, 2018
Goalkeeper Emily Shields returned to the bench following a long stint on the sidelines with injury, as Taylor who returned from international duty replaced Larissa Crummer in the squad.
Destiny was in City’s hands heading into their last regular season match for the season. The equation was simple, win and they secure a finals berth but lose or draw and they would need to rely on other results.
With finals on the line, City came out of the blocks firing. In an electrifying opening 10 minutes at McDonald Jones Stadium, their attacking intent was on show.
In wet conditions, City’s first chance came in the sixth minute through Rhali Dobson. A frantic period inside Newcastle’s defensive penalty box saw the ball ping-pong between players before falling to the attacker, her effort rebounding off the upright and falling to safety for the Jets.
Dobson’s early chance proved to have a flow-on effect, as Jess Fishlock sent a stinging strike goal bound from 25 yards a minute later. Britt Eckerstrom was called into action, make a solid save to deny the visitors the early lead.
Kyah Simon was next in line to pile the pressure on the Jets, the attacker turned Hannah Brewer beautifully in the box enabling herself to find some time and space but her effort was comfortably saved by Eckerstrom.
Newcastle’s best chance of the first-half came on 21 minutes following a great solo effort by Arin Gilliland. The American import did well to lose Rebekah Stott before unleashing from just inside the area, her shot was heading for the top corner only to be denied by a tremendous Lydia Williams diving save.
Following Gilliland’s effort, City had a golden chance to break the deadlock when Dobson found Fishlock a minute later. The winger produced a well-weighted cross which was met by Fishlock, but the Welshwoman’s header glanced inches high of the crossbar.
City continued to mount the pressure on the Jets, who at times appeared to be struggling with the constant attacking threat of Patrick Kisnorbo’s side. Starved of attacking chances, it appeared that the reigning champions could sense the frustration coming out of the Jets camp as they continued to push towards opening the scoring.
The side from Melbourne continued to press as a unit, as they came close to reaping in the rewards through Simon. Brewer’s attempted clearance was charged down by the attacker, as the rebound bounced just wide of the goal.
On the 29th-minute mark City’s dominance would eventually prevail, as England international Jodie Taylor netted her first goal for the Club.
Simon patiently held onto the ball in the attacking third before laying it off to Fishlock. The midfield maestro then produced a delightful chip over the Jets defence, finding Taylor one-on-one with the keeper – the experienced goalscorer making no mistake with a chip over Eckerstrom and a tap-in from point-blank range.
Taylor’s strike appeared to inspire the away side to lift to another level, City producing a scintillating 15 minutes of football to close the opening period.
Aivi Luik made it 2-0 when she met Lauren Barnes’ set-piece with a perfectly placed header into the corner of the net following a brilliant run from the defensive midfielder.
On the stroke of half-time City would triple their lead in similar fashion, as Barnes found Yukari Kinga with a brilliant set-piece allowing the Japanese import to head home from close range.
Following a comprehensive performance to close out the first-half by City, the Jets responded in the early stages of the second period.
Clare Wheeler had a great chance to snatch a goal back for the home side four minutes into the half, only to be denied by the crossbar following a goalmouth scramble by City’s defence.
The contest then appeared to hit a period of lull as neither team threatened with any sort of conviction.
Simon and Taylor worked tirelessly in the front third, but the attacking duo were denied on multiple occasions by Eckerstrom as they looked to find each other.
Craig Deans side pushed hard forward as the manager opted for attacking changes, but led by captain Steph Catley at the back, City’s organised defensive unit held tight denying the Jets an inch.
Just as they did in the last quarter of an hour in the first period, Kisnorbo’s side closed out the game with multiple chances in front of goal.
Catley played a brilliant cross from the left-wing which found second-half substitute Ashely Hatch, but the American’s powerful header sailed over the crossbar.
Minutes later Barnes produced yet another excellent set-piece from the corner, but Luik’s header was misdirected, travelling well over Eckerstrom in goal.
Rebekah Stott went on two barnstorming runs in the closing stages, finding Fishlock on both occasions but the midfielder’s efforts were wide.
Westfield W-League Round 14
Saturday 3 February 2018
Newcastle Jets vs Melbourne City FC
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle
Kick-off: 8:15pm (AEDT)
Newcastle Jets: 2. Hannah BREWER, 5. Arin GILLILAND, 6. Cassidy DAVIS, 7. Gema SIMON, 8. Sophie NENADOVIC, 9. Katie STENGEL, 10. Emily VAN EDMOND, 12. Tara ANDREWS, 17. Jenna KINGSLEY, 18. Clare WHEELER, 19. Ash BRODIGAN, 21. Panayiota PETRATOS, 23. Tori HUSTER, 28. Britt ECKERSTROM (GK), Substitutions not used: 20. Claire COELHO (GK)
Head Coach: Craig DEANS
Melbourne City FC: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (GK), 2. Yukari KINGA, 3. Lauren BARNES, 4. Ashley HATCH, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Steph CATLEY (C), 10. Jess FISHLOCK, 11. Rhali DOBSON, 12. Jodie TAYLOR, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 14. Alanna KENNEDY, 15. Amy JACKSON, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC,
Substitutions not used: 20. Emily Shields (GK)
Head Coach: Patrick KISNORBO