Sydney FC are to fight it out with Melbourne City for the coveted W-League Grand Final trophy after the Victorians snuck through on penalties (5-4) in the hotly contested match against Brisbane Roar.
Melbourne City have been the team to beat all season long, winning all twelve of their W-League matches, but the Brisbane Roar were tenacious keeping the opposition goalless for the full 120 minutes of football, despite the Victorians having half the Matilda’s line up on the roster.
Melbourne City were founded in 2015 after backing and investment from City Football Group, an Abu Dhabi affiliated holding company, which also owns Premier League club Manchester City.
Brisbane recruit, American goalkeeper Haley Kopmayer, was the difference denying Melbourne City on a number of occasions throughout regular time and the Queenslanders became the only team this season to hold their southern opponents scoreless.
On the other side of town, Sydney FC defeated last year’s Grand Final winners Canberra United 1-0 in a controversial match where the referee’s decision was the decider. Canberra goalkeeper Lydia Williams was seemingly obstructed after a high cross, but the referee waved play on and Jasmyne Spencer cleanly finished for the Sky Blues at the 61’ mark.
American import Spencer has scored some spectacular goals this season and continues to worry defenders in the final third. Melbourne City, although highly favoured to win the Grand Final, will need to close her down if they are to succeed.
“I thought it was a fantastic game, I thought both teams had opportunities to win the game and I’m just very grateful to be on the winning side today” said Sydney Coach Dan Barrett.
Canberra coach Rae Dower wasn’t so happy with the decision saying the goal should have been disallowed, but lamenting that missed opportunities in the second half let them down.
"I can't afford the fine if I told you what I really think, and the worse thing is we are talking about that and not a game of football," she said.
Canberra defeated Sydney twice during the regular season and finished the competition 12 points ahead of their rivals, but this was semi-final football and the match could have gone either way with both teams having their share of chances.
With the W-League going from strength to strength the Grand Final is sure to be a spectacle with Sydney veterans Leena Khamis, Teresa Polias and Nicola Bolger taking on the might of Melbourne City, which includes leading goal scorer Larissa Crummer who has scored 11 goals this season.
With Lisa de Vanna and Laura Alleway returning, City will be very difficult to defeat in front of the large parochial crowd expected at AAMI Park (31st January, AAMI Park, 2:00pm)
Melbourne City squad: 1. Brianna Davey (gk), 3. Alex Chidiac, 4. Jennifer Beattie, 5. Laura Alleway, 6. Aivi Luik, 7. Stephanie Catley, 8. Kim Little, 9. Larissa Crummer, 10. Jessica Fishlock, 11. Lisa De Vanna, 14. Melina Ayres, 15. Amy Jackson, 16. Beattie Goad, 17. Marianna Tabain, 18. Anisa Guajardo, 20. Trudy Burke (gk)
Sydney FC squad: 1. Michelle Betos (gk), 2. Elizabeth Ralston, 3. Ellyse Perry, 4. Sunny Franco, 5. Jasmyne Spencer, 6. Teresa Polias (c), 7. Nicola Bolger, 9. Princess Ibini, 10. Renee Rollason, 11. Natalie Tobin, 12. Olivia Price, 14. Alanna Kennedy, 15. Teigen Allen, 17. Kyah Simon, 18. Sham Khamis (gk), 19. Leena Khamis
By Paul Brown