Women’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Sydney FC

Sydney FC have taken advantage of a sluggish first-half showing from the Wellington Phoenix to extend their lead at the top of the Liberty A-League women’s competition.

Sydney have beaten the Phoenix 5-0 at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, with all five of their goals coming in the first 45 minutes.

Mackenzie Barry scored a first-half hat-trick for the visitors on an evening to forget for Wellington.

“It wasn’t nice to watch. It wasn’t nice to be a part of for anyone, the girls who were playing in it and us,” Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis told media post-match.

“It just felt like we were pretty soft, pretty passive, pretty lethargic.

“They’re better than that, that’s not who they are so it was a bit disappointing that was the display they put on in the first half.”

Lewis is frustrated by the inconsistency her side have shown in the first five rounds.

“We tend to have a good performance and then the next game is normally night and day.

“I don’t know whether we go in and we’re complacent or whether we’re riding the high of having a really good game and think we’re just going to naturally back it up.

“Really disappointing [but] at least they kind of came out in the second half a little bit better.”

Lewis named an unchanged starting XI for the Phoenix’s second match in four days. But there were two changes on the bench with Jordan Jasnos and Hannah Jones replacing Grace Jale and Annabel Martin.

As expected, Sydney came out firing following their scoreless draw with Western Sydney on Monday.

They took the lead in just the fourth minute, when Rachel Lowe blasted a shot into the top corner of Lily Alfeld’s goal.

Wellington responded well to going a goal down and created an opportunity of their own five minutes later but Ava Pritchard scuffed her shot and it deflected safely into the arms of Sydney ‘keeper Jada Whyman.

Shortly after Hawkesby scored her first goal from the spot after the competition leaders were awarded a contentious penalty.

“That penalty seemed really harsh and…we just couldn’t even decipher where it came from,” Lewis said.

“Safe to say I wasn’t exactly the biggest fan of the ref in this game because I feel like she made some awful decisions throughout.”

Hawkesby had her second just before the half hour mark, passing into an empty net after Alfeld unfortunately parried a cross straight into her path.

Cortnee Vine produced a solo effort to score Sydney’s fourth in the 38th minute before Hawkesby completed her hat-trick shortly before halftime when she slotted a pinpoint Remy Siemsen cut-back past Alfeld.

Talitha Kramer and Jasnos were introduced at the start of the second half and they helped re-energise a weary Phoenix side.

A long-range effort from Football Ferns forward Paige Satchell was the closest Sydney came to adding a sixth after halftime.

Wellington were able to deny the visitors any other clear-cut opportunities despite being forced to play the last quarter of an hour with just 10 players after left back Saskia Vosper came off with a groin strain when Lewis had already brought on all her out-field players.

The Phoenix have a full 10 days to regroup with their next Liberty A-League match against Melbourne City in Melbourne on Sunday, January 9.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 2. Saskia VOSPER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Isabel GOMEZ (16. Hannah JONES – 78th), 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD (13. Te Reremoana WALKER – 63rd), 11. Kelli BROWN (5. Jordan JASNOS – 46th), 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN (17. Talitha KRAMER – 46th), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk)

Sydney FC: 1. Jada WHYMAN (gk), 3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Jessika NASH, 5. Ally GREEN (17. Angelique HRISTODOULOU – 56th), 8. Rachel LOWE, 10. Remy SIEMSEN, 11. Cortnee VINE (14. Paige SATCHELL – 46th), 12. Natalie TOBIN (c) (9. Maria ROJAS – 72nd), 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 18 Taylor RAY (6. Sarah HUNTER – 67th), 20. Princess IBINI-ISEI
Unused substitutes: 30. Katie OFFER (gk)

8. Rachel LOWE (Sydney FC) – 4th
15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY (Sydney FC) – 14th pen, 29th & 44th
11. Cortnee VINE (Sydney FC) – 38th

3. Kate TAYLOR (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 62nd
17. Talitha KRAMER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 65th
13. Te Reremoana WALKER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 68th
4. Jessika NASH (Sydney FC) – yellow – 90th