Melbourne City W-League: mid-season report card

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Melbourne City has a target on its back the size of three consecutive Championships and yet the team is still standing. Despite a slow start to the season City got themselves back in contention with a 3-1 win over Newcastle Jets which sets up a big second half of the season.

Semester summary :

While the win against the Jets still has City sitting outside the top four, they are now within touching distance of second-placed Perth Glory in what has become a very tight race for the finals.

The Melbourne Derby loss hurt and Victory’s position four points clear on top of the table would only exacerbate City’s woes. Two big wins against Sydney FC and Newcastle ensure City is still in the running to lift some silverware for a fourth consecutive season.

City may be sitting in unfamiliar territory after a few unfavourable results but it is not as doom and gloom as it may seem.

Aside from their Round 1 loss to Canberra, where they missed a handful of stars, City has been in every game this season and had it not been for injuries or costly mistakes in defence the ladder may be looking somewhat different.

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Areas of excellence:

It’s been an arduous first half of the season for the reigning Champions.

Despite holding what many consider a Matildas 2.0 team, they have been riddled with injuries and have been forced to fast track youth, an area City has excelled in this season.

Coach Rado Vidosic has been bold and placed lots of trust in youth this season and his players have responded in the best possible way.

Teenage trio Sofia Sakalis, Nia Stamatopoulos and Chelsea Blissett have done well to fulfil roles for the team when required, especially when having to replace their much more experienced teammates.

In what was a makeshift City outfit for the first few rounds, they managed to hold down the fort and keep within striking distance of their rivals above them, setting up a big second half of the season.

The big question in the off season surrounded whether City would be able to fill the void of losing Jess Fishlock who over the previous two seasons scored 16 of the team’s 39 goals.

Enter Jasmyne Spencer.

The 28-year-old American has scored four goals including a hat-trick in City’s 3-1 win over Sydney FC and has been a focal point for City in their attacking third.

 

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Areas in need of improvement:

Unfortunately, City’s defensive record from last season is yet to kick into gear in 2018/19. Conceding only 15 goals last season, City maintained the second-best defensive record but so far after six games the reigning champions have conceded 12.

Along with the bottom placed Western Sydney Wanderers, City currently have the worst defensive record this season with the club yet to keep a clean sheet.

A lot of this has been due to a lack of resources due to injury and captain Steph Cately’s return should help ease the pressure.

Her presence and impact on the team was evident in City’s most recent win over the Jets in what was City’s best performance of the season.

Top student:

Ellise Kellond-Knight.

Arguably the team’s biggest signing in the off season, the side has looked completely different with Kellond-Knight.

Having only missed two games, the Matilda’s midfielder has played an integral role in City’s spine, fulfilling the defensive midfield role alongside fellow new recruit Tameka Butt.

She is ever reliable from the penalty spot and isn’t too bad from a set piece either but her biggest attribute is her leadership in the heart of midfield which is significant considering the amount of youth promoted.

Class clown:

Considering City’s team has been likened to a revolving door this season with players coming in and out of the squad at different times, it’s difficult to identify a class clown as such.

Though Perth Glory made City’s defence look very clownish when the Glory put five past the reigning champions. It was the first time the club has conceded five goals in their history and was the second time in two years they’ve gone down to the Glory by a three-goal margin.

Goals to each of Perth’s front three showed City were unable to match the speed and class the Glory possessed, despite coach Vidosic highlighting the significance of shutting down the service to Samantha Kerr and Rachel Hill pre-match.

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Outlook:

At the halfway point of the season City is still well and truly in the hunt for claiming their fourth consecutive Championship. Catching their cross-town rivals Melbourne Victory at the top of the table may be a stretch too far but a finals berth is well within City’s sights, sitting two points off the Glory in second.

It’s been an arduous start to the season for City but they have come through unscathed and with a full squad can turn some heads in this second half of the season.

Grade C+

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RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.