All eyes will be on Melbourne City as the champions seek to maintain momentum from last season’s astonishing debut campaign as Newcastle Jets visit.
City opened with a scarcely-believable 6-0 win at heavy-hitters Sydney FC this time last year. Is the magic dust still sprinkled all over the City camp, or have their opponents learned how to adapt? Certainly the Jets proved themselves last season to be difficult to break down.
City have lost two greats of world football in Kim Little and Lisa De Vanna, but the incoming personnel are a remarkable group in their own right. Westfield Matildas’ Lydia Williams and Teigen Allen come into the squad, while American defender Lauren Barnes – a championship winner at Melbourne Victory a couple of seasons back – has also come through the arrivals door. Crucially, midfield dynamo and Wales captain Jess Fishlock also returns.
Into the lion’s den come a Newcastle Jets side with their roster also bolstered by significant experience in the shape of their American imports. Among them are the returning Megan Oyster and striker Jen Hoy, who coach Craig Deans hopes will turn last season’s profligacy into goals. At the other end of the pitch, the Jets conceded just 12 times – a defensive record better than any side in the league outside the top two.
As to how this one plays out is anyone’s guess heading into a fresh campaign. Will the Jets’ defensive excellence continue or will City’s sharpshooters find their range.
Melbourne City v Newcastle Jets
Sunday 6 November 2016
CB Smith Reserve, Melbourne
Local kick-off: 3pm
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Melbourne City FC squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Lauren BARNES, 4.Rachel BINNING, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY, 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 12.Olivia ELLIS, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 30.Kelsey QUINN (gk) **two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 9.Larissa CRUMMER (ankle – 4 weeks)
Newcastle Jets squad: 1.Kelsey WYS (gk), 3.Elizabeth O'REILLY, 4.Megan OYSTER, 5.Arin GILLILAND, 6.Cassidy DAVIS, 7.Gema SIMON (c), 8.Emma STANBURY, 9.Jennifer HOY, 10.Rhali DOBSON, 11.Tara PENDER, 13. Grace MACINTYRE, 14.Brooke MILLER, 15.Elizabeth COPUS-BROWN, 16.Liana DANASKOS, 17.Jenna KINGSLEY, 19.Ashlee BRODIGAN, 20.Claire COELHO (gk) **two to be omitted**
Unavailable: 18.Clare WHEELER (international duty – 1 week), 2.Sophie NENADOVIC (international duty – 1 week), 2.Chloe LOGARZO (international duty – 1 week)