From amazing Americans to disappointing defeats, The Inner Sanctum is here to take you through the good and bad of round two of the A-League Women.
Wellington Phoenix vs Western United
Good: Hannah Keane
Western United made some strong signings for their first season. The arrivals of Chloe Logarzo and Jess McDonald bring winning experience and publicity to the new club, and Alana Cerne is a popular local produce, but the number nine, Hannah Keane might be the best of them all.
Keane has adapted instantly to Australian football. The American centre-forward scored against Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City in the pre-season and has continued that form into the first two rounds.
Last week against Victory, she was lively, mobile and dangerous. Against Wellington Phoenix, she was devastating.
Keane drives at defenders as soon as she takes possession. She drifts to either flank or runs through the middle with equal ease.
She created the first goal for Jessica McDonald with a solo run down the right. Her shot was blocked, but she regained possession and crossed low to her compatriot to open the scoring.
Keane eventually was rewarded with some good luck for her hard work. Wellington failed to clear a corner kick and the 29-year-old was on the line to tap it into the net almost unchallenged.
Her second goal was a work of art. After receiving the ball in midfield, the striker played the ball out wide, and two passes later she was on the end of the eventual cross into the box.
The header on the run and facing goal was exactly what the perfect Emma Robers delivery deserved. A brace was just reward for an excellent all-round forward’s performance. Keane is currently one of the in-form strikers of the A-League Women.
Bad: Wellington’s defence
Wellington has a young defence and a teenage goalkeeper. They are all quality players still learning to play senior football. Central defenders Kate Taylor and Mackenzie Barry are both senior Football Ferns with Taylor likely the next captain of the national team as she did the Phoenix on the weekend.
The Phoenix will be a formidable squad soon enough, but players of this quality will not be happy with conceding eight goals in two matches.
Wellington does not “park the bus.” Much to its credit, it attacks the game and the opposition with fast ball movement, a feature of its play.
However, this leaves the back four vulnerable to counterattacks or when the team loses possession playing out from the back. When they are eventually broken down by the opposition it happens quickly. Despite playing well for most of the game, teams can undo that good work in a short time.
Nobody wants Wellington to change the way it plays, when it is in form, it is an exciting team with brilliant potential.
The injury to star goalkeeper Lily Alfeld has not helped the Phoenix, but they might need to slightly alter their tactics without the ball, or give some young stars a rest to give themselves a better chance of winning.
Brisbane Roar vs Canberra United
Good: Hensley Hancuff
Hancuff is the reason Brisbane walked away from Saturday’s game with a point. She made multiple integral saves in the dying minutes just as Canberra started to heat up.
Showing maturity beyond her years, the 22-year-old wasn’t caught out of position even once despite the constant pressure. She was tested in all areas of the goal, making a diving save to her left in stoppage time as Sasha Grove hit a first-time ball from the penalty spot.
Hancuff recovered from an early blunder that led to the opening goal to ensure the margin didn’t increase any further. Instructing the defenders ahead of her helped to limit the quality of the looks the Canberra attackers were able to have.
It follows her outstanding performance against Newcastle in Round 1 where she made eight saves and was Brisbane’s stone wall that led to the 2-1 win, despite Newcastle having more shots and shots on target.
Bad: Canberra United’s execution
Another matchday, another poor conversion rate from Canberra United. On Saturday, they had 18 shots, with just four on target.
It follows 24 shots last week with 11 on target, United have only scored three goals in two matches despite taking 42 shots. It is not enough just to pressure the opposition defence, at some point these shots need to turn into quality looks that can win them games.
Canberra has drawn seven of its last 10 games, it has scored the first goal in five of those draws. It prompts the question of whether its conversion rate drops when it feels the pressure of needing a goal, or whether it is tired working through games.
Either way, the United attacking line needs to put in the work on the training pitch so they can start seeing results on the ladder.
Sydney FC vs Melbourne Victory
Good: Madison Haley
What a debut by Madison Haley!
In her first game in the A-League Women, Haley was the standout player for the Sky Blues. Not only did she score the opening goal of the match but she provided her teammates with a plethora of opportunities on goal.
The Stanford graduate took control of the game applying pressure to the Melbourne Victory defenders. In the attacking half, Haley, nicknamed ‘Mad Dog’ gave Cortnee Vine two of the best-looking through balls of the weekend.
Her skill was in complete view when she scored her inaugural goal. She intercepted a Victory pass and dribbled past two defenders and Casey Dumont in goal before slotting the ball into the top right corner.
Her amazing performance is going to create problems for coach Ante Juric.
With Remy Siemsen also returning on the weekend, he will have a difficult time choosing which players should start. Add in forwards Cortnee Vine and Princess Ibini-Isei, Juric will be in for quite a headache.
Bad: Victory’s injury list gets longer
Just when things couldn’t get worse to kick off Melbourne Victory’s season, star player Catherine Zimmerman suffered a broken leg during the clash against Sydney FC. The injury added salt to the wound of Melbourne’s loss.
Unfortunately, Zimmerman faces an extended period on the sideline after undergoing surgery on a fractured fibula. She joins starting XI players Natalie Tathem and Maja Markovski on the injury list.
The loss of Zimmerman showed in the game as Victory couldn’t create an attacking presence. The American forward was a big part of the team’s championship run last season and will be heavily missed. As Zimmerman sits on the sideline, the younger attackers will need to stand up and deliver.
Already losing twice to start the season, Melbourne Victory will be eying a win against last-place Wellington Phoenix this weekend.
Ethan Lee Chalk
More Football News
Newcastle Jets vs Western Sydney
Good: Sarah Griffith
Sarah Griffith, take a bow.
The American import dominated this game, scoring a hat-trick as the Jets struck back in damaging fashion against a Western Sydney Wanderers side looking to start their season off with a win.
For a Newcastle side that has languished near the bottom of the table the last few seasons, wins have been few and far between over recent years. And after the performance against Roar last week, it looked like it could be more of the same this season.
But the Novocastrians turned it around and will hopefully take this momentum and run with it as they host a Glory side looking for a result this week.
Bad: New season, same problems at Wanderland
A new season, a new coach, a new squad, and yet the same problems remain for the Wanderers, as they have started the 2022/23 A-League Women season in disappointing fashion.
Traditionally slow starters having only claimed victory in an opening fixture once in the club’s history, they have never been able to shake that slow start and go on to do much in the competition.
An extended season might help that as the team will find time to gel together and hopefully start to string some results together.
Despite the loss, there were some good things to build off, as Jordyn Bloomer (on loan from Racing Louisville) looked good in net for the most part. The Wanderers have also scored two goals this year and having only scored seven in the entirety of last season, that’s a stark improvement.
It will not get easier this week for the Wanderers as they host the Sydney Derby at Marconi Stadium this week, but the building blocks are there and they need to keep building on them regardless of the result against Sydney FC.
Perth Glory vs Adelaide United
Good: Adelaide makes a statement
Adelaide United have won both of their games to start the season. The Reds have not conceded and only goal difference is keeping them from top spot.
The win away to Perth Glory might not have been a flawless performance, but it was an important win for a club with title ambitions.
The Reds were without Julie Dolan Medalist Fiona Worts after a training ground injury. They were facing another strong side on their much-awaited homecoming game, and Emily Hodgson was missing from fullback.
This meant pressing forward Paige Hayward was once again deployed at left back. She was excellent at winning the ball back and creating space for the striker in 2021/22 but is not a natural defender like Hodgson.
Adelaide was far from full strength. However, this did not alter its game plan.
It was able to take the lead through Dylan Holmes early and hold onto that lead. Young Matilda Ella Tonkin was impressive in defence and Annalee Grove might have been its best player for the second week in a row.
Chelsie Dawber registered her second match-winning assist in as many weeks. Emelia Murray probably should have scored again but was an able replacement for Worts.
Perth Glory were no pushovers. They attacked all match and deserved a goal, but Adelaide United held on. They did not play at their absolute best but got the points on the road.
This win only enhances their top four credentials. Adelaide United are the real deal.
Bad: Who, what, why?
Adelaide United wore their home red shirt when they travelled to Perth. The Glory also wore their home strip, a dark blue that clashes for the colourblind and anybody watching at a distance.
To make matters worse, the game was played in the afternoon sun with the camera seemingly positioned at the worst location imaginable. For most of the game, it was impossible to discern which side had the ball from the television footage.
Adelaide has a lighter-coloured alternate kit. It would have been a much better option, and it is confusing why it chose something so close on the spectrum.
One of the most pervasive problems in women’s football is that the broadcast qualities have been lower than the men’s. Some things are budgetary, some are due to the limitation of the stadiums.
Choosing kits that do not clash is something that can easily be fixed. Hopefully, it will be in the future.
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