City rue missed opportunities as fate falls out of their hands
Thursday Night's result looms as tough pill to swallow as end of an era beckons for the reigning back-to-back-to-back Westfield W-League Champions.
Goals to Yukari Kinga and Tameka Butt secured a 2-0 for Melbourne City over Sydney FC but the Wollongong fixture's final scoreline leaves their destiny in the hands of crosstown rivals, Melbourne Victory.
As it stands, Rado Vidosic's side sit equal on points with the third-placed Sydney FC and Perth Glory, who occupy the fourth and last finals spot.
However, Perth's goal difference (+9) and superior goal tally leaves City (+5) in need of a miracle favour from Victory: a 5-0 thumping of Sam Kerr's Glory away from home.
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One may ask, how did it get so desperate for the three-time Westfield W-League Champions?
Three points from their first five matches set the tone for a difficult season, though no result may sting as much as what unfolded in the blustery WIN Stadium on Thursday Night.
Across 100 minutes of play, Melbourne unleashed 30 shots, 11 of which on target, another nine of which were blocked.
They also fired in 24 crosses and an impressive 29.2% met their intended mark.
On defence, City conceded just six shots (two on target) and made 11 clearances, a stark contrast to the 30 Sydney were forced to make as Vidosic's side pushed for a boil over that would turn heads across the Westfield W-League.
The stats are damning. A peek at the average position of each Melbourne player continues to portray a narrative of dominance; just their two centre-backs sit behind the halfway line.
The visitors' 617 passes completed at 83.5% accuracy swamped Sydney who completed a mere 269 at 61.7%, struggling to deal with the constant Melbourne press.
In spite of these statistics, it was a fruitless night for City, Kinga's missed penalty in the 15th minute laying the foundation for a night that failed to go to plan.
When the deadlock finally broke after 67 minutes through the Japanese international, the response from Melbourne was akin to a side whose wind had left its sails.
Sydney enjoyed their best period of play over the next 15 minutes to seal their safe passage into the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Finals Series, the visitors' second goal in the 86th minute purely consolation.
Speaking on a night of missed opportunities, City winger Jasmyne Spencer put it best.
"Its been the story of our season, but I'm proud of the girls and we can walk away from this with our heads held high."