A-League Women mid-season report card: Melbourne City

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As we near the halfway point of the A-L eague Women (ALW) season, it’s time to look back on how Melbourne City have performed so far.

Semester summary: City have had a season filled with excitement and promise in their first five games.

After a relatively slow start in their first couple of outings, Rado Vidosic’s side have been improving every week and find themselves flying high in second place on the ladder.

Not many were picking City to be fighting for the title ahead of the season, and even fewer were suggesting they would outperform their cross-town rivals, but right now both are realities.

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Areas of excellence: Youth integration and constant improvement.

City have excelled in the way they’ve incorporated young players into the team whilst providing sufficient guidance in the form of more experienced players.

The likes of Melissa Barbieri, Emma Checker and Rebekah Stott have given City the foundations to involve plenty of exciting youngsters, chief amongst them being Holly McNamara playing her first season of professional football.

Across the pitch players like McNamara, Leah Davidson, Winona Heatley and Tori Tumeth have all been critical members of City’s squad, but City have hardly looked a team lacking in experience beyond some fitness issues.

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On a similar note, with so many young players it’s unsurprising to see City growing and improving every time they take to the field, as players build in confidence and establish themselves at ALW level.

The visible growth in this City team should give supporters plenty to be excited about and makes them a fearsome prospect for opposition coaches.

Areas in need of improvement: Fitness, fitness and fitness.

Somewhat predictably considering the youth of the City squad, there have been multiple occasions this season where there has been a discernible drop in level from City late in games.

No doubt this is another area that has improved – City are making it further into games without any dips – but still, it is crucial that they continue to develop in this area if they want to be competitive at the end of the season.

City are also extremely reliant on Stott in midfield to enable transitions from defence to attack, so finding a few more different routes to goal would undoubtedly make City a more complete team.

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Top student: Hannah Wilkinson

McNamara was very close to taking this out considering how much of a revelation she has been, but the big Kiwi striker probably deserves this the most. Eight goals from the last three games speaks for itself, and it’s hard to see where City would be without Wilkinson leading the line.

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Special mentions also to Stott and Checker, who have been instrumental in midfield and defence respectively.

Needs improvement: Rhianna Pollicina

Maybe a bit harsh, but Pollicina has clearly been the least visible of a dominant City attack. Of course, Pollicina is having to adapt to a new system whilst playing in a new position, which certainly doesn’t make things easy. Nonetheless, beyond her brilliant display against Adelaide United, she’s often struggled to impact games.

Tyla-Jay Vlajnic and Kaitlyn Torpey could also be doing more to threaten offensively from the wings, a matter which will come into sharper focus now that McNamara is unavailable due to Matildas selection.

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Grade: A

Outlook: The greatest challenges lie ahead.

As well as things have gone so far for City, several different challenges are about to face Vidosic’s young squad.

McNamara and Heatley’s call-ups to the Matildas immediately puts pressure onto the remaining players to cover for the losses of key players at either end of the pitch.

What’s more, New Zealand’s upcoming international tournament to be played in February means that City face losing Wilkinson and Stott, potentially for several games, ensuring that things don’t get any easier for City over the coming months.

Nonetheless, City have proven that they can overcome all of the challenges they’ve faced so far.  With an improving young squad, they could yet prove capable of handling even greater obstacles prior to the end of the season.

Feature Image Credit: Melbourne City FC

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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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