City captain Catley says Premiers are 'even better' than inaugural all-conquerors
Melbourne City captain Steph Catley believes the Premiership-winning class of 2019/20 are 'even better' than the all-conquering inaugural side which won the Westfield W-League double four years ago.
The Westfield Matilda, 26, led the Bundoora club to inaugural success alongside the likes of Jess Fishlock and Kim Little in 2015/16, the first of three consecutive Championships which made City Australia's benchmark.
But after Rado Vidosic's side secured the 2019/20 Premiers Plate with an utterly convincing 4-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Thursday night, fullback Catley says this side has raised the standards yet again.
"It has felt amazing this year," she told FOX Sports.
"It's definitely a comparison of that first season that was so successful, and I think the football and consistency that we're playing is at an even better level, it's a little bit higher.
"It's exciting, we still have one game to go and its important one."
It is difficult to argue with Catley's assertion. City started the campaign in steady, if unspectacular fashion but have motored through the gears over the second half of the campaign and left their competitors in the dust.
After a 1-1 draw with Newcastle Jets on the opening day, the team have won 10 straight matches, keeping seven clean sheets in their last seven, and have not conceded a goal in over 700 minutes of football.
They have only conceded three goals this season, and another a shutout against Brisbane Roar in Round 14 would see them post the competition's best ever defensive record - eclipsing the previous record of four set by the inaugural double-winners of 2015/16.
Although Catley and her teammates celebrated a deserved coronation in Sydney's west on Thursday, the Australian international says the squad are focused on the Finals Series, and etching their name on a record fourth Championship, overtaking Sydney's three.
"Obviously Western Sydney are missing some players, but they set up really well, they are very disciplined and they have got some speed on the break.
"They will still be a threat. Sydney FC aren't far behind us so I think they are going to be a team to keep an eye on as well. But we'll keep doing us and hopefully we can go all the way."
Coach Vidosic had a similarly ruthless assessment.
"[There is] no breather. We have at least nine players in the FIFA break so next week is very important for us.
"The Semi Finals, most of them will get in on Friday and we play on Sunday.
"We won't get any time to prepare for the Semi Finals so we need to smart in how we prepare for next week. We spoke about that today, they are aware of it."
Vidosic also reserved special praise for Ellie Carpenter, whose show-stopping double against the Wanderers drew immense plaudits.
"We've been working on her going around opponents and setting up people but we also ask her to go toward the near post and see if she can get something more out of it," he said.
"Tonight she was magnificent.
"In saying that, she was very tired when she came back [from international duty], we still have to look after her because she is very young.
"She never stops running and if we don't look after her she'll run herself into the ground."
Perth Glory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, 29 February 2020
Kick off: 10.15pm AEDT
Melbourne City v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 1 March 2020
Kick off: 4.00pm AEDT