Sky Blues hold off persistent Reds in return to winning ways
Sydney FC ensured top spot on the Westfield W-League table remained in their grasp after securing a 2-1 win over a gutsy Adelaide United on Sunday afternoon.
Goals to Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine on either side of half-time helped Sydney outlast the Reds, who pushed the hosts all the way to the final whistle after Matilda McNamara's second-half strike gave Adelaide hope of a comeback.
Sydney ventured to Cromer Park hoping to keep second-placed Brisbane Roar at arm's length after the latter's 4-1 win over the Sky Blues in Round 8 closed the gap between the sides at the top of the table to just two points.
The hosts intended to quickly shrug off their lacklustre Round 8 showing against the Roar but the Sky Blues were frustrated early. Chances were fleeting for either side throughout the opening half-hour of play before Siemsen headed home a Teresa Polias corner to put her side a goal ahead, benefiting from Adelaide 'keeper Annalee Grove misjudging the flight of the ball to score into an empty net.
Grove kept her place ahead of Sian Fryer-McLaren for a second successive game but two crucial errors on either side of half-time from the shot-stopper cost her side against the Sky Blues. The first gifted Siemsen the opening goal before the Sky Blues scored a second in similar fashion, as Vine outmanoeuvred Grove in the goal-mouth to head home off another Polias corner in the second half.
McNamara scored off an inviting Dylan Holmes cross just after the hour mark to make things interesting, and buoyed by the tightened scoreline, the Reds pushed hard for a winner. Maria Jose Rojas wasted the opportunity to equalise with a shot struck within the reach of Sky Blues stopper Jada Whyman before a late Holmes lob hit the crossbar, as the game ended with Sydney clinging onto all three points.
A cagey opening saw 20 minutes pass before either side could manage a genuine attempt on goal.
Sky Blues striker Remy Siemsen found herself in the thick of the action after a subdued start, venturing into an offside position to fire wide from a Princess Ibini pass before going eye-to-eye with Grove and failing to send her poked shot past the sprawling Reds 'keeper.
With half an hour on the clock the visitors began to invade, playing two balls into the penalty area which Whyman collected with ease. It was a rare sight of an Adelaide attack as the Sky Blues got back on top, showing greater intent in the final third than earlier in the half when a close-range Clare Wheeler cross was thwarted by an excellent Maruschka Waldus sliding clearance in the six-yard box.
But just a minute later the hosts had their goal, converting from a corner drifted dangerously into the box by Polias. Grove misjudged the flight of the cross, swatting desperately at the ball as it flew over her outstretched glove and onto the head of Siemsen, who rattled the back of the net and sent her hometown fans at Cromer Park into frenzied applause.
Just three minutes into the second stanza, the Sky Blues scored again, benefiting off another expertly-struck corner from Polias placed on the head of Grove for her teammates to attack.
Vine was the recipient of the Polias cross, meeting Grove in the six-yard box and leaping alongside the Reds 'keeper as the ball shaped from out to in, swerving toward goal. Vine got in front of her opponent and leapt to meet the ball; Grove's swinging glove missed the mark before the ball deflected off the back of Vine's head and dropped over the line.
With a two-goal lead intact, the Sky Blues pushed to put the result beyond doubt. Wheeler struck two ambitious shots from long range which kept Grove on her toes, and the Adelaide 'keeper collected a dangerous cross from out wide with a strong take just before the hour mark.
After repelling a series of dangerous Sydney attacks, the Reds were provided a pathway back into the game when McNamara drifted forward to cut the deficit in half. Emily Condon whipped a dangerous set piece into the box which Holmes failed to gather, but after one bounce, the ball found the head of McNamara steaming in on goal, who snuck the ball past Whyman to make it 2-1 at Cromer Park.
Adelaide were finishing the stronger of the two sides and felt a point was within sight. The Reds were pushing hard to create chances which ultimately presented Rojas with a gilt-edged chance to bring her side level.
The opportunity came from a turnover deep in defence, with Charlotte Mclean caught lingering on the ball. Rojas gathered and dribbled into the box, darting to the right and dispatching a shot across her body toward the bottom left corner.
But Whyman guessed the right way, leaping to her right and smothering the shot to ensure her side kept their lead in stunning fashion.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added at the end of the 90, and as Sydney dug deep to preserve their lead, Adelaide pushed to create one last chance which fell to Holmes in the box. The Reds midfielder poked a lobbed attempt on the volley toward goal; her shot dipped late and worried Whyman who watched the ball drop onto the crossbar and out for a goal kick, quashing any hopes of a late Reds equaliser.
Perth Glory v Sydney FC
Thursday, February 25 2021
Kick-off: 9:35pm AEDT
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United
Friday, February 26 2021
No. 2 Sportsground
Kick-off 6.05pm AEDT