Talking Points: In-form Roar yet to fire but is returning Kellond-Knight the missing piece?
Brisbane Roar's four-game unbeaten run may not have set the Westfield W-League alight but the returning Elise Kellond-Knight may be what takes them to the next level.
Kellond-Knight marked her successful comeback from injury with a 15-minute cameo off the bench as her side scraped a narrow 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets on Sunday afternoon.
The 109-cap Westfield Matilda spent eight seasons at the club from its foundation, winning two Westfield W-League Championships and a Premiership before her departure in 2015.
But the 29-year-old returned to the Roar for the 2019/20 season, and after an extended injury absence she finally made her long-awaited return to Westfield W-League action against the Jets.
Kellond-Knight will hope to return to the Roar's starting 11 in coming weeks and help her side address their noticeable woes in front of goal.
The Queenslanders have no shortage of creativity but attacking inaccuracy is becoming a worrying trend for Brisbane, who took a staggering 34 shots to score their two goals against Newcastle.
The Roar weren't made to pay for their inefficiency in front of goal against the Jets, but in their encounter with Melbourne Victory the week before they had to settle for a 0-0 draw despite piling on 17 shots to the Victory’s eight.
Brisbane captain Clare Polkinghorne scored a rare goal of her own this week, venturing forward from defence for a set piece, but the Roar veteran has thrown down the gauntlet to her side’s attack to make more of their opportunities in front of goal in coming weeks.
"There’s plenty of things to work on, but there were also plenty of positives,” Polkinghorne told brisbaneroar.com.au.
“We created a lot of chances, probably could have scored a few more which is something we’ll build on.
"We knew we would have majority of possession and we were able to create a lot of chances.
“We’ll want to be finishing a lot more of those as the season moves on.”
Polkinghorne says her side should be targeting set pieces for more goals. It’s how she put her name on the scoresheet on the weekend and it’s a facet of the game she sees the Roar having greater success with in the coming weeks.
"It doesn’t happen often [scoring], so I’ll take it," Polkinghorne said.
"We had a focus on set pieces. We hadn’t scored off one so we knew it was an area we could improve and it was good to see we scored from one."
Three wins and a draw in their last four games has helped the Roar leapfrog Canberra United into the top four. They will be hoping for instant improvement in an attacking sense as they approach a bumper clash against the star-studded Melbourne City at Dolphin Stadium on Thursday night.
Sky Blues benefit from Latsko, Kennedy injury returns
As Kellond-Knight continues a careful return from injury for the Roar, Sydney FC are reaping the rewards from two of their stars making long-awaited returns from injury.
Westfield Matildas defender Alanna Kennedy and American forward Veronica Latsko both featured from the start against Adelaide on the weekend; it was only Kennedy's second start of the season and Latsko's first as a Sky Blue.
Kennedy won all of her tackles, made three clearances and three interceptions in the heart of Sydney's defence as they kept a clean sheet in a 2-0 win over Adelaide United, making her way into the Westfield W-League Team of the Week for Round 7.
Latsko meanwhile could not find her way onto the scoresheet against the Reds but her calibre as an attacking force is known to everyone in the Westfield W-League. She equalled now-teammate Caitlin Foord's tally of nine goals last season when she played for Adelaide, and now that she has made a successful return her focus will undoubtedly turn to filling her boots.
The Sky Blues are currently in third position but will be intent on bettering that position in the coming weeks, and will take great confidence in having both Latsko and Kennedy fit and firing in their starting unit.
Canberra prove there's no shame in losing to the Wanderers
Canberra United's 4-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers last Thursday night was devastating enough to send them tumbling out of the top four, but as Western Sydney Wanderers continue to prove week in, week out, an emphatic loss at their hands is becoming little more than the norm.
The Wanderers have launched into top spot after two huge wins on the trot, putting five goals past Sydney FC in Round 6 before their hammering of Canberra in Round 7.
Their goal difference of +13 is eight higher than their nearest challengers Melbourne City. City are level with the Wanderers on 16 points and similarly undefeated, but are yet to beat a team by more than one goal while the Red and Black are romping to enormous victories over finals rivals.
Western Sydney's comprehensive victories over both Canberra and Sydney FC in consecutive weeks will have put significant dents in both side's confidence levels, and the two finals contenders meet in Round 8 at McKellar Park as they try to keep the pace with the league leaders.
Rot will stop for Perth or Adelaide as winless sides meet in Round 8
Adelaide United and Perth Glory have just one point between them for the season, but that's about to change as the sides meet at Marden Sports Complex on Friday night.
Perth earned their only point of the season in Round 5 when Kim Carroll scored a 90th-minute equaliser against Canberra United, while their Round 8 opponents Adelaide have lost all six of their clashes to start the 2019/20 campaign.
The Reds will feel incredibly stiff to have not earned a point from any of their first six games. They have lost five by just one goal and their most recent clash with Sydney FC by two, in a game broken open by an unfortunate own goal to Amber Brooks with less than 15 minutes to play.
The bottom two sides meet this weekend with the chance to start a new year in a new direction. A win for the Glory could take them level on points with Newcastle in seventh while three points for the Reds would help them overtake their opponents and leave the Glory stranded at the foot of the table.
A draw would do neither side any real favours, apart from remove the '0' next to Adelaide's name which continues to haunt them as the weeks go by.