Talking Points: How will upstarts Western Sydney cope with a target on their backs?
The power has shifted in the Harbour City after five-star Western Sydney Wanderers tore Sydney FC to shreds, but how will the former underdogs deal with being the team to beat?
The Western Sydney revolution trampled over the establishment in the first ever Westfield W-League Sydney Derby at Bankwest Stadium with 17-year-old sensation Kyra Cooney-Cross sparkling in the 5-0 whitewash win.
Wanderers had been turning heads while going about their business to record three wins from four matches but, after thumping the reigning Champions, the Red and Black uprising is now impossible to ignore.
The last five years of Westfield W-League football has seen five different Premiers crowned but Western Sydney have not been one of them. In that time, the Red and Black’s best finish has been seventh with 12 points.
Heffernan’s new-look side topped that on Saturday with a demolition job in Parramatta, moving up to 13 points from five matches to sit second on the ladder as the competition’s top scorers with 12 goals.
Teen prodigy Cooney-Cross wrote the headlines with a dazzling double, while Westfield Matilda Amy Harrison dominated midfield against her former club and US striker Lynn Williams ran riot on her way to scoring a late brace.
The dynamic Williams’ stat sheet underlined her attacking dominance: two goals, 10 shots, nine in the box, seven on target, nine crosses, four chances created and one assist.
The plucky little Wanderers story is over. Western Sydney is now the name on the front of the marquee. Star-Studded Melbourne City lead the competition but will relinquish top spot on Boxing Day if Wanderers beat Canberra.
Western Sydney and City do not meet until Round 13, by which time the Premiers Plate could be shined up and ready to present at Marconi Stadium.
Whether Wanderers remain in the hunt that long is still to be revealed but, based on present form, there could be red and black ribbons wrapped around Westfield W-League silverware for the first time in 2020.
City machine keeps turning with fifth straight win
Over the past five rounds, Melbourne City have done nothing but win.
Perth Glory were the victims at ABD Stadium in Round 6 as New Zealand international Rebekah Stott grabbed the goal that secure City’s third 1-0 win of the campaign.
The three-time Champions have not scored more than two in a game and have not won a game by more than a single goal, yet they have shown little signs of weakness.
Looking at their team sheet, there is no doubt of the quality in Rado Vidosic’s line-up but they are edging their way through the 2019/20 season so far.
Kyah Simon racked up 100 games in the Westfield W-League as City once again controlled possession and territory in the win against Perth but the floodgates remained bolted shut.
Canberra finally enjoying their road-trips
With City, Wanderers and Sydney FC currently entrenched in the top three, Canberra United lead the way in the race for the fourth Finals Series spot.
Heather Garriock’s side tightened their grip this week, opening up a three-point buffer on Brisbane Roar with a 2-1 triumph on the road against Adelaide United.
Until their 3-2 win at Newcastle Jets on November 30, the Green Machine had not won an away game in 741 days. In December, they have two wins, and seven points, from three matches on their travels.
The Lady Reds remain rock bottom and yet to get off the mark but Ivan Karlovic’s side have remained competitive in every game and have not been turned over once, losing every match by a single goal.
Chase for fourth hit the skids with stalemate in Epping
Premiers Melbourne Victory and 2019/20 runners-up Brisbane Roar are still eyeing a place in the Westfield W-League Finals Series but neither team could take their best foot forward on Saturday morning.
In a match rescheduled to avoid stifling 40 degree plus temperatures at Epping Stadium, the two contenders toiled to a goalless draw.
Victory goalkeeper Casey Dumont is a big part of the reason the match stayed deadlocked, not for the first time this season.
With fourth-placed Canberra three points ahead of Roar and five ahead of Victory, these sides need to pick up the pace to keep their Championship aspirations alive.