Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse – Round 8
Brisbane Roar were the big winners in Round 9 after claiming a pair of wins in the Harbour City to close the gap on leaders Sydney FC – but which of their stars make the Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse?
The Roar opened the round with a 2-1 triumph over Western Sydney Wanderers on Thursday, before taking on the Red and Black's crosstown rivals three days later and inflicting the Sky Blues' first defeat of the campaign in a shock 4-1 victory for the Queenslanders.
Meanwhile on Sunday, Adelaide United got their bid for a first-ever finals appearance back on track with a close-fought 2-1 win against top-four rivals Canberra United.
But who made the cut for this edition of the Westfield W-League Team of the Week, presented by Bunnings Warehouse? Read on to find out.
Keeley Richards – Canberra United
There was some serious competition for this berth with Morgan Aquino's late heroics earning Brisbane a win over Western Sydney, while Adelaide keeper Annalee Grove pulled off a couple of excellent stops to clinch all three points for the Reds against Canberra.
But neither could quite match the efforts of the Green Machine's Keeley Richards. She may not have been on the winning side but she kept the ACT outfit in contention with an array of outstanding reflex saves, often as the last line of defence, recording a round-high six stops in total.
Isabel Hodgson – Adelaide United
Chelsie Dawber took out Goal of the Round honours with a fine finish, but a huge slice of that award can be attributed to Hodgson's picture-perfect delivery to put the hosts in the driving seat.
The Reds right-back helped shut down a potent Canberra forward line, making four clearances, winning two tackles and two duels, while creating two chances on her forward raids.
Matilda McNamara – Adelaide United
Adelaide did live dangerously at times against Canberra United but were good value for their 2-1 win, in part thanks to Matilda McNamara's six clearances, two interceptions and two tackles.
The 22-year-old ensured the Reds secured three important points by stifling the in-form Michelle Heyman – as highlighted by a superb last-ditch tackle in the first half that halted the Westfield Matilda in her tracks.
Clare Polkinghorne – Brisbane Roar
The Roar favourite played a major role in shackling the Westfield W-League's highest scoring side, while making an impact at the other end – scoring her second of the season and dedicating the goal to pregnant teammate Katrina Gorry.
Polkinghorne has been a big part of the foundations behind Brisbane's four-match winning streak and she showed her importance this week, totalling seven clearances and six interceptions across Brisbane's two games.
Jamilla Rankin – Brisbane Roar
One of the stand-out performers of the round, the 17-year-old was a playmaker from left-back in Brisbane's two wins – and was one of Roar's main goal threats in the 4-1 triumph over Sydney FC.
Rankin was credited with a second goal against the Sky Blues and she created three chances, including an assist from a corner. Meanwhile, her defensive numbers were staggering. Across the two games, she combined for 25 duels won, 15 tackles won, five clearances and 11 interceptions.
Clare Wheeler – Sydney FC
While Sydney FC suffered their defensive problems against Brisbane, much of their most promising forward thrust came from Clare Wheeler trying to bring the Sky Blues' front three into the game.
The 23-year-old showed her determination to net her first Westfield W-League goal in 72 appearances to level the scores, after charging down goalkeeper Aquino's kick, and she led her team in tackles (four) and duels won (six) while battling to keep the Sky Blues in the contest.
Tameka Yallop – Brisbane Roar
Yallop played 68 minutes in a forward role against Western Sydney Wanderers on Thursday but the Westfield Matilda earns Team of the Week honours in the more withdrawn midfield role she operated in so effectively against Sydney FC.
After opening the scoring with a bullet header from Emily Gielnik's cross, Yallop pulled the strings across the park, while still attempting three efforts on goal. Defensively, she won five duels and made three interceptions to guide Roar to a stunning win.
Emily Condon – Adelaide United
Condon delivered an outstanding midfield performance to inspire Adelaide's important 2-1 win over Canberra United on Sunday.
The midfielder's 55th-minute winner was expertly taken, while she created three chances for her Reds teammates on the night.
Mariel Hecher – Brisbane Roar
The Brazilian has been one of the shining lights of Brisbane's impressive stretch and Mariel Hecher delivered again on the right of the Roar's attack against both Wanderers and Sydney.
Always a danger with the ball at her feet, Hecher sent in the cross that led to Rankin's first goal against the leaders. She logged four tackles in that game and also showed her defensive prowess against Wanderers, winning eight duels and three tackles.
Leena Khamis – Western Sydney Wanderers
The experienced forward came up on the losing side in a 2-1 reverse against Brisbane but Leena Khamis was a constant thorn in the Roar's side after scoring the opener following a smart run and a lifted finish.
Khamis managed six shots on goal, including five from inside the visitor's penalty area, and created two chances for her teammates but it was not enough for Wanderers to earn a share of the points.
Emily Gielnik – Brisbane Roar
Gielnik has shown her quality in the Westfield W-League this season and once again the Westfield Matilda was the driving force behind the Roar's two wins, opening the round by scoring a double from her seven shots while playing a centre role during the 2-1 win against the Wanderers.
The ex-Bayern Munich forward may not have got on the scoresheet against Sydney but she was in the thick of the action, starting from the left of a front three. Her superb delivery set up Yallop to head in the opener, while she threatened with two attempts on the Sky Blues goal.