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W-League Review: Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets win their first games

Photo: Ann Odong (FFA)

Brisbane Roar and the Newcastle Jets won their first W-League games of the season this weekend. Also, Adelaide United edged Melbourne City for a share of first place with Sydney FC.

Round 5

Adelaide United 2, Melbourne City 1

Brisbane Roar 6, Melbourne Victory 0

Newcastle Jets 4, Western Sydney Wanderers 1

Canberra United 1, Perth Glory 1

Brisbane Roar 6, Melbourne Victory 0

Brisbane Roar inflicted a heavy defeat (6-0) on Melbourne Victory on January 22 in front of 1,455 on the Gold Coast. After opening the season with four consecutive ties, the Roar’s win keeps them as one of three undefeated sides in the league, including Canberra United and Sydney FC.

Brazilian-born Mariel Hecher and Sharn Freier — both in their first W-League seasons—scored their first W-League goals. Matilda’s Tameka Yallop scored the goal of the match in the 39th minute when she adroitly controlled a Victory clearance from a corner kick, turned her defender and shot into the far corner from outside of the box, giving her side a 2-0 lead at the half. Fellow Matilda Emily Gielnik found the net twice in the last 15 minutes and had eight shots on goal in the game.

Gielnik (28) now has 36 W-League goals in 102 matches stretching across 10 seasons, nine with the Roar and one with the Victory. In the 95th minute, Australian U-17 and U-20 international Winonah Heatley (19) turned an Isabel Dalton rebound off the crossbar into the goal for her first goal in eight games for Roar, with three matches coming last season.

The Roar had the advantage in possession (61% vs. 39%), for shots (20 vs. 13) and shots on goal (9 vs. 3) compared to the Victory. Melbourne Victory has now lost two games in a row after their 6-0 derby win over Melbourne City two weeks ago.

Newcastle Jets 4, Western Sydney Wanderers 1

The Newcastle Jets, who played so well in a Round 4 1-1 tie with Brisbane and were so close to scoring the winner on multiple occasions, came storming out at home on January 23 to pound four goals past the Western Sydney Wanderers in a 4-1 victory, their first of the 2020-21 campaign.

Lauren Allan scored two goals in the first 33 minutes and Tara Andrews scored her fourth of the season just before halftime, tying her for the league lead with Canberra’s Michelle Heyman. Andrews four consecutive games scoring a goal ties her for the club lead with former Jet and ex-NWSL forward Jennifer Hoy, who played with the club in 2016-17 on loan from the Chicago Red Stars and retired from Sky Blue FC before the 2020 season.

A long shot from wingback Tess Tamplin was fumbled by Wanderers goalkeeper Courtney Newbon and Andrews was close at hand to capitalize.

Allan (24) is in her second W-League season—both with Newcastle—and played in the U.S. collegiately at Anderson University in South Carolina after spending two seasons at Butler Community College in Kansas. In the second half, Jets captain and Matilda defender Gema Simon (who played in 2013 for the Ottawa Fury in the USL’s W-League) scored her ninth goal across 13 seasons, with 12 of them in Newcastle.

The emergence of Allan as a goal scorer, along with the continued dangerous attacks from Sunny Franco, will help offset the attention that Tara Andrews receives as the Jet’s target striker, particularly since the cash-strapped Newcastle club could not afford to bring in imports for the second consecutive season.

Wanderers defender/winger Georgia Yeoman-Dale (26), who was out of the game for 18 months and missed the entire 2019/20 season from a bone lesion, scored a tying goal from a long shot just outside of the box as she cut in from the left wing in the eleventh minute. It was Yeoman-Dale’s eighth goal in 88 league games across ten seasons, including two with the Jets. She has five Matilda caps but her last appearance in the squad was in 2017 and her goal is to get back into the national team frame.

She told the Sydney Morning Herald last month how difficult the process to return to the game after the injury was for her, “I did have a sports doc say he wasn’t sure if I was able to play again, which is always tough to hear as an athlete. It took me a few weeks to get my head around it. I actually took a step back from rehab to get my head right and make sure that it was still what I wanted to do, because I knew it was a massive feat to be able to get back and a lot of hard work.”

Yeoman-Dale is in her second season as a FOX color commentator for W-League matches, around her training and games for Western Sydney.

Canberra United 1, Perth Glory 1

Canberra United remained undefeated in the W-League but again needed a late goal—after scoring two game winners in second half injury-time to open the season—to salvage a point against surprising Perth Glory on Jan. 24 in the Capital City. New Zealand international Elizabeth Anton (22) scored Perth’s second goal of the season in the 86th minute but less than a minute later Hayley Taylor-Young (18) tied the match with a shot off the far post that bounded into the goal.

Taylor-Young, in her second season for the Greens, scored her second ever goal. The match was hard fought and though Perth had the edge in possession (55% vs. 45%), Canberra had more shots (14 vs. 8), shots on goal (5 vs. 3) and were dominate in corners awarded (11 vs. 1) compared with Perth.

New Zealand international pool goalkeeper Lily Alfeld (ex-LSU) again was a difference maker in goal for Perth, finishing with 4 saves. American Chantel Jones (32), who is the Canberra United goalkeeping coach, had to make an emergency appearance in goal in replace of regular Sally James (18), who was out with a finger injury.

Jones last played in the W-League in the 2014/15 season for Canberra and made 22 appearances in three NWSL seasons with the Washington Spirit and Western New York Flash (2013-2015), after playing collegiately at the University of Virginia. A former U.S. youth international, she has been retired from the game for over five seasons; Jones finished with two saves against the Glory.

Adelaide United 2, Melbourne City 1

On Jan. 21, Adelaide United won their third game in a row with a 2-1 defeat of visiting Melbourne City and sent a clear message to the rest of the league that this could very well be the season that they finally break their dozen year W-League playoff drought. Adelaide captain Dylan Holmes (23) scored both goals in the win. Her second goal began when she stole the ball from Hollie Palmer in midfield and launched a low shot from outside of the area into the corner of the goal that gave City goalkeeper Teagan Micah no chance to cover it.

Holmes told the FOX broadcasting crew after the game, “To beat Melbourne City that way, I couldn’t be happier, I really am. This NPL season [for Adelaide City], that was a goal of mine, to try and score a few more and I wanted to bring that into the W-League so I’m so excited that I’ve finally got my first goal. We came into this game with a lot of confidence from the two Perth games [both wins in the previous two rounds].”

City was missing Matilda Jenna McCormick—a native of South Australia who started her W-League career with Adelaide United—in central defense due to being in concussion protocol. Fellow Matilda Emma Checker replaced her in defense in her first game of the season after an off-season in the French top tier; Checker scored a second half injury-time consolation goal with a strong header in the box from a long free kick.

Adelaide thus recorded their first ever win over City in six games, with three ties, and this was the first match between the sides ever held in the South Australian capital city.

Player of the Week: Dylan Holmes, Adelaide United

Dylan Holmes, a former U-20 international who had a brief stint at Colgate University, scored her first ever goals in 35 W-League games across four seasons (all with Adelaide) in her side’s 2-1 win over struggling Melbourne City to send the Reds to joint top of the table with Sydney FC. She also led her team in tackles won with six out of seven and duels won with 11 of 15. The win was crucial in Adelaide’s quest to copy Wanderers’ first ever playoff season in 2020/21 in their eighth W-League season, while Adelaide—an original W-League franchise in 2008/09—has missed the playoffs in all their dozen previous campaigns.

Other News

Allira Toby’s Difficult First Season Abroad—a Ban on Training and COVID-19

Allira Toby, 26 is an experienced W-League forward who joined Sydney FC this season after a terrible first experience abroad with Famalicao in Portugal. Toby, who has been invited to a full national team camp in the past but has never been capped at any level, had 14 goals in 38 league games over the past four seasons with Brisbane Roar — twice leading the side in goals — after debuting in the league in 2015-16 with Adelaide United.

She had originally tried to move to Spain just after the 2019-20 season ended with Deportivo Alaves of the Spanish Segunda Division Femenine (who currently lead the nine team Group B in the North Division by three points over Barcelona II—28 to 25) but that deal fell through. Famalicao in Portugal’s 1A Divisao Women then signed her in September and Toby explained, “Portugal came out of the blue and talked to my manager.”

A week later she flew to Europe, which was the start of her nightmare three months on the Iberian Peninsula as things quickly went sideways, “The language barrier was massive and the biggest problem. Only a few players spoke English and the coach didn’t at all. Communication with the coaches was the challenge—trying to figure out what they wanted.”

The club tried to cancel her contract but since it was a one year deal, they were legally obligated to pay her. Famalicao didn’t allow her to train with the side after playing in only one game. She felt that the club’s organization was to blame and that the team did have “a bit of money,” so it wasn’t the situation that they were running out of cash.

The Portuguese side still owes her for her three months abroad, which she said she still needs to sort out with the assistance of her manager. She did stay in a team house there with other players, “I was lucky to make friends. It got me through.” She admitted that she was not match fit when she arrived there as, “I hadn’t played since the end of the W-League season [early March of 2020]….It was not the right fit for me.”

Besides the challenge of, “not playing or hardly training,” she became very sick for a few weeks with what she thought was COVID-19, after one of her friends in the house tested positive. She had to quarantine when returning to Australia to join Sydney FC.

Toby is a very positive person to talk to and, despite the horrible experience that Famalicao put her through, very much wants to play abroad again, “I’d love to go back to Europe to play. The Portuguese experience doesn’t change my thought process. I will be more aware and cautious but it is always an option.”

Note: Familicao finished first in the 10-team Norte Division in 2020-21 and are now in the Championship Round with the top four teams from the 10-team Sul Division, in a home and away group with 14 games total.

Toby is happy to be back in the W-league this winter (northern hemisphere) and has seen the league, “change a lot with a smaller amount of Matildas and NWSL players. It is a positive step forward for Australian women’s football to give young players opportunities to step up,” as the league has brought in a number of young players from the various state leagues in Australia. She has also seen a difference in play between Sydney FC and her previous club Brisbane Roar, “Each coach has their way of playing and how they expect us to play. Roar is more direct and like to get in behind teams than does Sydney, who play more one-two’s. I like how Sydney plays and it is something I enjoy and want to improve with the ball coming to my feet.”

Allira Toby, a six year veteran of the W-League and a proven goal scorer, would be an asset as a potent and experienced striker for teams in North America or Europe to bring in during the W-League’s offseason.

2020/21 W-League Table

Round 6 Matches

Friday, January 29, Adelaide United vs. Melbourne Victory 3:05 am ET

Sunday January 31, Melbourne City vs. Brisbane Roar 12:05 am ET

Sunday, January 31, Sydney FC vs. Newcastle Jets 2:05 am ET

Note: The live streaming schedule on ESPN+ for the games this week were not announced by press time.

Tim Grainey is a contributor to Equalizer Soccer.  His latest book is Beyond Bend it Like Beckham. Get your copy today.


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