Western Sydney Wanderers may have dominated the headlines early in the A-League season, but Melbourne City’s W-League side is staking its claim to ultimate glory.
The three-time champions soundly defeated Canberra United 4-0 on Thursday night thanks to a first-half brace from Kyah Simon and goals from Claire Emslie and Emily van Egmond.
It stretched City’s winning run to seven and sent them six-points clear atop the table – albeit having played once more than Western Sydney.
It also means that City’s rock-solid backline has not conceded a goal since the 40th minute of the 2-1 win over Sydney FC on December 8.
That’s more than 400 minutes of football since goalkeeper Lydia Williams had to retrieve the ball from her own net.
And while it has at times been frustrating going forward – the win over Canberra was only the second time City has won by more than a goal – van Egmond says the best is yet to come.
“It’s taken us a couple of games to get into the swing of things,” the Matilda told Fox Sports after the Canberra game. “We’ve had a lot of our players come in from all kinds of different leagues.
I think now we’re starting to make a statement across the league which is what we want going into the back end of the season.”
City and the Wanderers – who suffered their first defeat of the season thanks to an upset 4-0 defeat to Brisbane Roar on Sunday – have been identified as clearly separating themselves from the pack through the opening nine rounds of the 2019/20 season.
However, with the guest-player contract of Wanderers’ Irish superstar Denise O’Sullivan at its end and the side faltering against Roar, City may now have a leg up in the chase for Dub supremacy.
Sydney FC make it ten games unbeaten
Sydney FC made it ten games unbeaten on Friday night after downing Newcastle Jets 2-1 at McDonald Jones Stadium.
At the end of the second week in January, the A-League looks like it has already found its premiers.
Nearing the league’s halfway point, Sydney stretches its lead atop the A-League table to 11 points and secures a goal difference that is, at minimum, five better than the nearest rivals in third-placed Perth Glory.
The Harboursiders have been an unflinching machine so far in 19/20 – their collection of attacking talent able to convert half chances and win games even when they fail to fire as a collective unit.
So well-established is their system – and their players so aware of their place in it – that the side is a constant threat in every game it plays.
A-League going to the Dogs
On Friday, A-League expansion side Western United announced it would shift its January 26 home fixture from Kardinia Park to the venerable Whitten Oval in Melbourne’s west.
The third stadium – and third AFL oval to boot – that the side will have used in its first season in the league, the move was met with some skepticism by fans.
Why, they asked, would United not look to use boutique rectangular venue Knights Stadium – home of the famous Melbourne Knights – if the club was looking to play in Melbourne’s west?
The club cited logistical challenges of bringing a game to Knights Stadium and that Whitten Oval – a ground with a central-ish location, a sense of intimacy and deep character – should produce an upgraded atmosphere over the cavernous Kardinia.
What just happened?
Just when you think you’ve seen everything that the A-League can throw at you, it finds something new.
Down 2-1 heading into injury time after a desperately unlucky own-goal by Kyle Rowles, Central Coast Mariners looked like extending a run that hadn’t seen them beat Melbourne Victory since 2013.
A VAR review spotted a handball by Victory defender James Donachie and enabled Central Coast cult-hero Matt Simon to thunder a penalty home.
Simon then got involved in a shoving match with Victory’s Adama Traoré that left the attacker’s shirt ripped wide open.
Pressing hard, Central Coast won a dubious penalty when Michael McGlinchey was brought down and up stepped Simon once again – the 33-year-old hammering home.
To top it all off, enraged Victory coach Marco Kurz was red-carded for his furious protests with the fourth official.
It all ended with a 3-2 win to the Mariners that leaves them just two points outside the top-six.
Friday: Newcastle Jets 1-2 Sydney FC
Saturday: Wellington Phoenix 2-0 Western Sydney Wanderers; Brisbane Roar 2-2 Melbourne City; Perth Glory 3-0 Adelaide United
Sunday: Central Coast Mariners 3-2 Melbourne Victory
Thursday: Melbourne City 4-0 Canberra United
Sunday: Western Sydney Wanderers 4-0 Brisbane Roar