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

The Wellington Phoenix have fallen to their second straight defeat in the Liberty A-League women’s competition, but they have delivered an admirable showing against last year’s runners-up.

The Phoenix have been beaten 3-0 by Sydney FC at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium in Sydney, after trailing 1-0 at halftime.

But Gemma Lewis’ young side produced a more assured showing than they produced against the Newcastle Jets in round two.

“I definitely think there were better moments in the game,” Lewis told media post-match. “We were more organised. There were moments in the game where I think we had a little bit of momentum, a little bit more territory and we were trying to stick to the way we wanted to play.

“I’m really proud of them for still pushing, still playing through the 90 and still trying to look for a goal, even at the end.

“A three-nil result sucks but at the same time there were moments in that performance we can be happy with I think.”

The match was played in searing heat, with drinks breaks required every 15 minutes.

“It was tough. We knew some of our girls were going to struggle with it. There’s a couple of our girls who do struggle in heat as you would have seen from that game.

“Even being over here hasn’t really helped us too much because the weather has been really rubbish up until this point.

“We actually haven’t had a lot of time to acclimatise to it either. The last couple of days have been the first days for us it’s really been above 30 so it was tough conditions for the players.

“But they still pushed through, they were still professional, they knew it was the same for both sides, so they got on with it.”

Lewis made two changes to the XI which had started the opening two rounds. Fit-again winger Kelli Brown got the nod in place of Jordan Jasnos, while Alyssa Whinham, who impressed off the bench against Western Sydney and Newcastle, replaced injured forward Grace Jale.

Whinham was at the heart of a bright start from the Phoenix and created the team’s first opportunity in just the sixth minute when she won a corner with some clever footwork. Wellington found Brown in some space on the edge of the area from the resulting short corner, but Sydney were able to shut down the danger.

Unfortunately for Kelli Brown it was to be one of her only chances as she had to be replaced before halftime with hamstring tightness.

Whinham’s quick feet caused Sydney problems a second time in the 14th minute. She beat two players in the box but the 18-year-old playmaker wasn’t able to pick out a teammate at the back post.

The Phoenix forced last year’s runners-up into some uncharacteristic errors before the first drinks break and Lily Alfeld was largely untroubled in the Wellington goal.

Sydney FC took advantage of their first clear-cut opportunity midway through the first-half when Cortnee Vine made a strong run down the right flank, dribbled along the by-line and then threaded the ball past Alfeld and into the back of the net.

The hosts made a double change at halftime and one of their replacements doubled Sydney’s lead in the 53rd minute, when an unmarked Charlize Rule tapped home a deflected Princess Ibini cross at the back post.

Alfeld made a smart save to deny Vine her second goal in the 65th minute, but just moments later Sydney had their third when Ibini picked out Mackenzie Hawkesby on the penalty spot and she stroked it past the Phoenix captain and into her bottom left corner.

Wellington defended resolutely for the remainder of the match to keep the score line creditable.

The Phoenix are back in action on Monday week when they travel to Central Coast Stadium to face the Newcastle Jets for the second time this Liberty A-League women’s season.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 2. Saskia VOSPER (5. Jordan JASNOS 59th min), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 11. Kelli BROWN (17. Talitha KRAMER 38th min), 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 20. Alyssa WHINHAM (13. Te Reremoana WALKER 68th min)
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 18. Annabel MARTIN

Sydney FC: 1. Jada WHYMAN (gk) (30. Katie OFFER (gk) 82nd min), 3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Jessika NASH (19. Charlize RULE 46th min), 5. Ally GREEN, 6. Sarah HUNTER (8. Rachel LOWE 46th min), 10. Remy SIEMSEN (9. Maria ROJAS 69th min), 11. Cortnee VINE (14. Paige SATCHELL 73rd min), 12. Natalie TOBIN (c), 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 18 Taylor RAY, 20. Princess IBINI-ISEI
Unused substitutes:

11. Cortnee VINE (Sydney FC) – 24th min
19. Charlize RULE (Sydney FC) – 54th min
15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY (Sydney FC) – 65th min