Hot conditions greeted Melbourne Victory as they travelled to Wanderers Football Park to face the Western Sydney Wanderers, as the visitors got set to play their second game in four days, in this current stretch of four games in twelve days for the Victory.
The game was set to be a big one for the hosts, as they aimed to complete three wins on the trot, something the Wanderers last did in the opening three rounds of the 2019/20 season, or 1,148 days ago.
The match itself proved to be a battle of the keepers, as Jordyn Bloomer and Casey Dumont did not allow anything past them into the net, with the game playing out a scoreless draw.
Victory was able to prevent the Wanderers from getting sustained possession throughout most of the first half, and was also quite clinical in preventing the hosts from getting the ball in spaces where they could utilise the transitional play the Wanderers used to great impact against Western United.
Despite an increase in attacking opportunities as the game began to open up for both sides, Bloomer and Dumont stood up to the task, making some spectacular saves to keep the scores level.
Kayla Morrison continued to display her impressive skills, trapping Sarina Bolden offside on multiple occasions and preventing the Wanderers striker from receiving balls that would slice through the back line.
The two most crucial moments of the game both involved the Wanderers on the attack, as Sophie Harding went down in the box but the referee waved away appeals for a penalty.
The second of those saw the Wanderers awarded a free kick in the dying moments of stoppage time, and Sienna Saveska went for goal, narrowly missing, confusing the crowd in attendance who thought it had gone in because of the way it shook the side netting and where the ball came to a rest behind the net.
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While both sides put in a tremendous effort, the scoreless draw (which was the first of the A-League Women season), raises questions about the scheduling and whether too much is being expected of these semi-professional players in trying summer conditions.
It was approximately 30 degrees during warm-ups, with the temperature only dropping a couple of degrees during the game itself with the 6pm kick-off.
Despite the cool winds coming through as a storm approached, the temperature did not drop which saw drinks breaks taken in each half.
For the hosts, who last played on Saturday afternoon in similar conditions, they have to back up and travel to Melbourne to face City on Saturday afternoon in what is expected to be cooler conditions which might provide some respite as they play their third game in a week.
For Victory however, who last played on Sunday due to a weather-related postponement, they now travel to Adelaide where the conditions are once again expected to be hot and trying for the players.
While there have been a number of postponements this season due to weather, it is still an issue that players are not able to perform at their best because they’re playing in hot weather because the league is played over the summer.
It also does not help that the fixtures are bunching together in order to get them all in whilst trying to appeal to a family-friendly crowd with kick-off times during the hotter parts of the day during the January school holidays.
It is an issue that appears unsustainable, but with no end in sight, hopefully, the players can find a way to play at their best.
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