The Westfield W-League season is at the halfway point - can anyone stop Canberra United?
It's half-time in the Westfield W-League and Stephanie Brantz talks to Westfield Matildas assistant coach Spencer Prior and former Matilda, ABC commentator, Alicia Ferguson, to get their half-term report.
CANBERRA UNITED At this point of the season, what is there to say about the girls in green that isn-t positive. Coach Jitka Klimkova's work has been excellent, the side has good structure, they are organised, they play with confidence and most importantly, they have smiles on their faces.
And hey, they are entitled to - unbeaten so far, they look more dominant this season than ever before. Sick of organising the hens' party, Canberra want the spotlight this time round. GRADE: A
SYDNEY FC Alen Stajcic has had a lot to deal with such as missing strike duo Kyah Simon and Leena Khamis, and the careful management of Caitlin Foord.
Prior sums it up, “Staj has lost a lot of the younger players he had last year for back up, such as Alanna Kennedy who understandably moved on to get more first team experience. Of course the Young Matildas need game time under their belts, but getting through a stage where he is stuck for bodies on the park, he-s done really well”
Ferguson adds, “While Sydney are not as slick yet as they were last season, their build up play has been good. They haven-t always had the ball in good areas or the ideal final passes, but they-ve been able to finish”.
Both agree that we haven-t seen the best of Sydney but they are starting to build momentum. GRADE: B
BRISBANE ROAR The defending premiers have quality international players on the park - Tameka Butt is playing superbly, as are Aivi Luik and Kim Carroll. Having Elise Kellond-Knight injured is a challenge for Jeff Hopkins but with Emily Gielnik coming up with cracking goals and Catherine Cannuli working her way back from injury, things are looking up for the Roar.
Ferguson says, “They do have players that are coming into form. While strong through the back and middle third the Roar haven-t yet got it together in the final third so have struggled to score goals. Cannuli has an amazing left foot, her delivery of crosses is superb and when she gets back to full fitness - look out” GRADE: B-
MELBOURNE VICTORY The Victory are possibly the unluckiest team in the league. They're playing some sensational football just not getting the results. Katrina Gorry has been an absolute gun and they have a wonderful striker in Jodie Taylor, though Ferguson wonders if they are perhaps relying on her too much.
Vicki Linton has impressed Prior with her uncompromising attitude. “In a short season it would be so easy to say, ‘get the ball up there and go for the result-, but she is sticking to her guns and encouraging her side to play good football.”
Ferguson agrees and adds, “Melbourne just need a bit more experience, to become harder, more ruthless. They need to take that next step and believe they can beat anyone” GRADE: C+
NEWCASTLE JETS German superstar Ariane Hingst has settled into the Novocastrian lifestyle really well and is a key part of the strong spine that characterises the Newcastle team.
What the Lady Jets may be struggling with is that they have built a side that everyone wants to beat. Prior acknowledges that this can be a challenge: “After a great start, the reality of how difficult it is to do that consistently is starting to kick in. But come finals time, they have a lot of players with experience playing at that level and that will tell”.
Ferguson has a word of warning: “They have a lot of good players, though they haven-t been together that long and haven-t clicked yet but even if this side plays below par, they have a player like De Vanna that can pop up and score two or three goals” GRADE B-
PERTH GLORY The Glory are definitely a side on the up. Under new coach Jamie Harnwell they have made good signings, in particular Emma Kete. But they continue to be challenged with upholding the intensity over 90 minutes.
There is a tendency to drop off for parts of match, get punished and then struggle to get back into the game. They are on the right track though and continue to improve. GRADE: C
ADELAIDE UNITED There is universal consensus that Adelaide are also improving. While they have been unlucky at times, they have held their own this season more than ever before. Ferguson and Prior agree that consistency continues to be the bug bear of the Lady Reds. They, like Perth, play well in patches but need to extend that to 90 minutes.
Dave Edmondson is doing good things in South Australia though and bearing in mind the limited preparation he had, the only way is up for the Reds. GRADE: C
The W-League has a short season - as Prior puts it “blink and you-ll miss it”. Both he and Ferguson agree that while there are financial limitations it would be ideal if there could be another round and the season could be extended to 21 games, saying that such a long period spent out of competition is not ideal preparation for the international women-s competitions.
However, for what remains of this season, let-s enjoy battle that continues for the top four spots and celebrate the female footballing talent this country continues to produce.
Tune in at 3pm on Saturday to see Melbourne Victory take on the Newcastle Jets LIVE on ABC1.