What to watch for: City v Newcastle

A disappointing 1-0 loss to Brisbane Roar last week has placed additional emphasis on Melbourne City FC’s upcoming A-League Women clash with Newcastle Jets on Tuesday night.

Three points is a must for the City girls as they look to pull off an unlikely Premiership win, so there’s plenty riding on the re-scheduled fixture from early January with now just two games left to play in the season.

Here’s what you need to be watch for:

Much-needed reinforcements on their way

Though City managed to pull off a surprise win against Sydney FC without Rebekah Stott and Hannah Wilkinson in the team, the additional loss of Holly McNamara made it a bridge too far when Rado Vidosic’s side came up against Brisbane Roar last Thursday.

The City girls were held scoreless as they struggled to create opportunities without a recognised striker or their world-class midfield orchestrator, and were left with little option other than to attempt long balls into the box for the final half hour of the game.

However, City’s Football Ferns will be back to face the Jets on Tuesday night following their involvement for New Zealand in the SheBelieves Cup and the reinforcements will be very much welcomed, indeed.

The top of the Golden Boot standings

In Wilkinson’s absence, the Golden Boot race has suddenly become a lot more competitive than anticipated not too long ago, with the Kiwi now three behind Adelaide’s Fiona Worts – who has scored nine in her past three games – and equal on 10 goals with Worts’ teammate Chelsie Dawber.

Wilkinson became the fastest player to score 10 goals in A-League Women’s history in her last match against Perth Glory, but will now need to find a way to somehow better her goal-a-game ratio to ensure that she finishes ahead of Worts and Dawber by the final day of the campaign.

The Kiwi has a club record in her sights even if she can’t make up the gap, needing two goals to better Larissa Crummer’s 11-goal haul from 2015/16, the most that any player has scored in a single season for City.

Barbieri as she continues to defy expectations

It’s been an unforgettable season so far for Melissa Barbieri, and not just for her milestones alone.

25 years on since her first in professional football, 42-year-old Barbieri has been one of the standout goalkeepers in the A-League Women competition, boasting the third-best save percentage at an impressive 80%.

The veteran has won games almost single-handedly; her performance away to Brisbane Roar comes to mind as a superhuman goalkeeping display that enabled City to pull off its incredible late comeback despite the home side’s plethora of one-on-one opportunities.

By far the oldest player to appear in the history of either of the A-Leagues, Barbieri continues to defy expectations and will undoubtedly be crucial to City’s Premiership and Championship hopes over the remainder of the season.