The Inner Sanctum has put together a team of the week comprised of the best performing players that took part in Round 4 of the A-League Women season.
There were some historic and game changing performances in Round 4 of the A-League Women.
Melbourne City dominated the derby and Canberra United snatched a point against Brisbane thanks to some individual brilliance. Western Sydney showed more improvement while Wellington and Newcastle played out a tight, entertaining game.
Goalkeepers and defenders
GK: Lily Alfeld (Wellington Phoenix)
This game ended 1-0 to the Newcastle Jets, but it was another impressive performance by Wellington. It had lost 5-1 against the same opposition just two weeks ago, but it took the Jets until the 81st minute to score this time.
One of the key performers was skipper Lily Alfeld. She was brilliant throughout as she frustrated the highly rated Jets attack. The defining goal only came after she tipped another shot onto the crossbar and Jemma House was able to knock it into an open goal.
RB: Alexia Apostolakis (Western Sydney Wanderers)
It was her first start at the top level at the age of just 15. The Wanderers fullback looked like a veteran when faced with the league’s in form side.
Apostolakis was tasked with handling the mobile, creative and fast-paced attack of Princess Ibini and Maria Rojas at various points. She also had to worry about Ally Green’s forward runs and the threat of Mackenzie Hawkesby.
In possession she was confident and rarely gave the ball away. She is one to watch for the future and played excellently on Monday.
CB: Clare Hunt (Western Sydney Wanderers)
Hunt was another exceptional defender in the Wanderers impressive draw with Sydney FC. She was commanding and committed at centre back.
Although Western Sydney’s midfielders and attackers worked hard defensively, they did all sit behind the ball. The back four all had to perform near perfectly and Hunt was one of their best
Up against the league leaders, she was exceptional. Defenders don’t often make the highlight reels, but she made some game saving interventions.
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CB: Emma Checker (Melbourne City)
City’s entire team clicked in this game. The midfielders pressured Melbourne Victory into errors, the strikers all hit their targets, and the defence was mostly impassable until the contest was over.
It is possible for a team to win 5-1 without the defenders being crucial, but not against Victory’s star studded and in form attack. Checker was one of the best players as she lead her team to the round’s best performance.
RB: Tyla-Jay Vlajnic (Melbourne City)
This City defender had been named as much for her attacking work as her defensive. She is a outlet for her midfield and centre backs.
Vlajnic was tireless along the wing against Melbourne Victory and set up the fifth goal for Wilkinson with a perfect cross.Embed from Getty Images
Grace Maher (Canberra United)
Brisbane was 3-1 up, had rested key attackers, and the result seemed safe. Until Grace Maher decided otherwise.
Maher had a 10 minute patch of form that served as a reminder of her considerable talent and influence. First, a brilliantly swerving free kick found the top corner. Then she caused havoc with another from very long range.
With the score at 3-2 and the game on a knife edge, Maher collected the ball after a cleared corner kick. She beat her defender and moved up the line. Her ball in was impossible to defend, placed low and hard between the goalkeeper and center backs. Any touch would score and Holly Caspers did the honors.
Maher’s magic had earned her side a valuable point.
Malia Steinmetz (Western Sydney Wanderers)
This was a textbook defensive midfield performance from Steinmetz.
Sydney FC’s attack is often admired, but their midfield has been excellent this season. Steinmetz played with high intensity, composure and combativeness throughout.
Her screening of the back four and efforts to win the ball back in the forward half were vital to the valuable draw.
Mackenzie Hawkesby (Sydney FC)
This one might be controversial because she could have won the game but did not take her opportunities. Nevertheless, Hawkesby was the most dynamic, creative and dangerous player on the pitch in the Sydney Derby.
She was involved in seven scoring chances in the first half and hit the wood work with an almost-Olympico.
In the absence of Remy Siemsen, Hawkesby was one to stand up for Sydney and try and be the difference. Only some fantastic defending prevented her from doing so.
Bryleeh Henry (Western Sydney Wanderers)
She did not score, but looked the most dangerous for the Wanderers. It was her mobility and work rate that earned her the nod in the Team Of The Week.
Henry was everywhere in this game. She was dropping deep to link play, intervening in defence, trying to get on the end of long passes, and was prominent on both wings.
Her movement, control, and tenacity seem beyond her age and experience. This round showed how essential the Matilda is to her team.
Holly McNamara (Melbourne City)
The teenage striker has adapted instantly to A-League level and was a dominant force in the Melbourne Derby.
In a free-wheeling attacking role she tormented the Victory defence with her pace and precise passing. She directly assisted three goals in the 5-1 rout and is surely a Matilda in waiting if her form continues.
Hannah Wilkinson (Melbourne City)
She scored five goals, in a derby against the undefeated league champions. Only one other player (Kate Gill) has been able score as many in a single A-League Women match. This was a brilliant performance by a player who has looked likely of doing this for weeks.
The goals were a combination of fantastic movement, anticipation and technique. She chipped Casey Dumont twice and was unforgiving of any defensive errors.
Her partnership with McNamara was at its absolute best on Boxing Day. This was a benchmark centre forward display by the New Zealander.
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