Watt provides spark as City head to Finals Series with 11th straight win
Ally Watt hit a second-half double as newly-crowned Premiers Melbourne City stayed unbeaten ahead of the Westfield W-League Finals Series after downing Brisbane Roar 3-1.
The North Carolina Courage loanee pounced twice in the space of 14 minutes to make it three goals for the season and clinch City’s 11th straight competition triumph in a dominant display at AAMI Park.
Yukari Kinga provided the service for both of the American’s goals, after Roar substitute Hollie Palmer had cancelled out Milica Mijatovic’s first-half effort to snap City’s run of seven straight clean sheets.
Emily van Egmond missed a golden chance on the brink of half time and cracked a shot off the crossbar in the dying stages as she finished a goal short of a share of the Westfield W-League Golden Boot.
Results on Saturday had already consigned Brisbane to a fifth-place finish as Roar head coach Jake Goodship handed a senior debut to 16-year-old left-back Jamilla Rankin with only pride at stake.
The Queenslanders put up a strong fight against the table-toppers, who recorded the joint best ever competition defensive record, having only conceded four goals. City move on to face Western Sydney Wanderers in the Semi Final after the international break on Sunday, 15 March.
Simon threatens but Roar's post comes to the rescue
With eleven players from the most recent Westfield Matildas squad squaring off from the kick-off, there was some high-quality football from the off and it was City's American recruit Ally Watt that came closest on nine minute after robbing her compatriot Celeste Boureille and pulling a shot narrowly wide.
The newly-crowned Premiers were stamping their mark on the game midway through the half. Kyah Simon crashed a strike back off the post and the ball ended up safely in the arm of a surpised Mackenzie Arnold in the Brisbane goal.
Mijatovic sends the Premiers on their way
The first shot on target for either team arrived on 34 minutes and Milica Mijatovic made no mistake with a curling finish from the edge of the Roar box. Emma Checker had sent Ellie Carpenter racing down the right and the Westfield Matildas full-back put the ball on a plate for the Serbia international to net her fifth goal of the campaign.
City raised the tempo as the half drew to a conclusion, with Carpenter blazing a strike over after Emily van Egmond tried to backheel in Simon's cut-back and van Egmond drilled a glorious chance off target from Carpenter's cut-back as she chased the Westfield W-League Golden Boot.
Palmer wipes away City's clean sheet streak
Moments after half-time, Roar had the Premiers rocked as Lauren Barnes lost possession deep in her own territory and Indiah-Paige Riley found half-time substitute Hollie Palmer to finish only four minutes after coming on and level the scores up at 1-1.
City reacted well to conceding their first goal for 729 minutes of football, forcing Arnold into a low, reaction save with her feet five minutes later after van Egmond and Watt combined to put Simon through on goal.
Watt punishes Roar to put City back in front
Palmer had brought Brisbane back into the game but a lapse in defence cost her side a goal when a stray pass could only find Yukari Kinga, and the Japanese midfielder picked out Watt, who added a composed finish on 55 minutes.
The North Carolina Courage loanee almost doubled her tally a minute later but her effort from Catley's precise pass fizzed across the face of goal as City threatened to pull away from the fifth-placed side.
Watt grabs her second to put Brisbane to bed
Brisbane were caught out by a slick City set-piece on 69 minutes as Catley's corner found Kinga in space in the edge of the penalty area. The 100-cap Japan international put the ball in the danger zone and Watt grabbed her second when she added a simple, close-range finish.
Roar were not going to lie down and Riley forced Lydia Williams into a fingertip save on 76 minutes after a swift counter-attack. Van Egmond had one final attempt to grab a share of the Golden Boot but saw her stinging shot cannon back off the crossbar, and substitute Rhali Dobson hit the woodwork with an effort of her own in the closing stages.