Melbourne City’s improving forwards the key to success this season

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Melbourne City’s attack finally seemed to click during Saturday’s win over Adelaide United in the A-League Women – a pattern which must be repeated for City to remain competitive deep into the season.

For Melbourne City, defence has hardly seemed to be an issue in the early stages of the season.

In general play, City consistently appear capable of repelling opposition forays into their half, largely thanks to their strong defensive setup.

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Head coach Rado Vidosic believes that his side’s defensive qualities are a strength of their game.

“When we play with five at the back we are solid,” he said.

“We are good defensively.”

Whilst acknowledging that certain aspects of his team’s defensive game still need work, most notably defending set-pieces, it is clear that their team shape which affords City extra numbers at the back gives Vidosic confidence in his team’s ability to limit the opportunities created by opposition teams.

Conversely, City’s attacking play has often appeared decidedly toothless this season.

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Despite scoring in both of their first two games, neither goal was the product of a particularly effective attacking strategy. Holly McNamara’s wonder strike from outside the box and a freak defensive error following a set-piece aren’t reliable avenues to goal.

Fortunately for City, an inability to generate consistent and reliable scoring opportunities appeared to be rectified during their 3-1 win over Adelaide United.

The attacking trio of McNamara, Hannah Wilkinson and Rhianna Pollicina finally looked like a cohesive unit which could regularly threaten opposition defences.

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Pollicina was arguably City’s best player, scoring and assisting in what was undoubtedly her best game for City.

“That’s why we brought her here,” Vidosic said after the match.

Pollicina scored the opening goal with a magnificent strike from outside the box, before delivering an excellent corner for City’s second.

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Vidosic credited the former Newcastle Jet for her ability to adapt to the different expectations at her new club.

“When she (Pollicina) was at the Jets she had the freedom to play anywhere she liked,” Vidosic explained.

“Here it is more about structure, so I’m really happy for her that she was finally able to perform really well and score a beautiful goal.”

Of similar significance was the improved display from Kiwi striker Wilkinson, who opened her scoring account for City with an impressive double.

“She is demanding the ball more and shooting more,” Vidosic said.

“For her to score a couple of goals, her confidence should go through the roof.”

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Wilkinson endured a difficult few months prior to the A-League Women’s season due to the particularly harsh lockdown restrictions in New Zealand following the Olympics.

She presents an ominous prospect to opposition coaches if she can build even further on Saturday’s performance as she improves her fitness and match sharpness throughout the season.

The 18-year-old McNamara also offered a more consistent threat than she had in City’s previous games.

McNamara showed glimpses of her blistering pace, causing havoc for the Adelaide defence.

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Nonetheless, Vidosic believes his young forward has significant room for improvement.

“I’m still expecting more from Holly (McNamara),” he said.

“She just needs to use her pace more frequently, because she is an unbelievable talent.

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“I think that is going to come with maturity.”

If City’s attacking three can consistently perform as well as they did against Adelaide, combined with their solid defence, Vidosic’s team could yet keep pace with the very best teams in the competition.

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Whilst the Emma Checker-led defence appears a reliable prospect this season, their forward line offers much less certainty.

Pollicina, Wilkinson and McNamara have proved that they can work together.

The only question remains whether they will do so over the course of the season.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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Oscar Rutherford
Oscar Rutherford
Sports tragic studying Law/Arts at Monash University. Second-best paid Oscar working in football who has been to China.

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