Sydney FC has consolidated its position in the Westfield W-League top four with a hard fought, yet well deserved 1-0 victory over Brisbane Roar at Lambert Park on Friday night.
The Sky Blues were looking to bounce back from their last start loss to Perth Glory and they hit the ground running in the opening ten minutes with some lively and attacking play. With star midfielder Caitlin Foord on the bench in her first match back from an ankle injury, it was up to the creativity of Princess Ibini, Georgia Yeoman-Dale and Matilda international Kyah Simon to lead from the front.
Sydney created a huge chance after just three minutes when the ever present Teresa Polias had a vicious shot palmed away by Roar keeper Mackenzie Arnold who reacted quickly.
There was end to end attack for the rest of the first half as Sydney FC striker Leena Khamis was unfortunate to not receive a penalty after being bundled awkwardly in the box on the half hour mark. Minutes later, Roar winger Emily Gielnik had Brisbane’s best chance of the game after she made a wonderful run, only to see her one on one shot parried away by the in-form Khamis.
On the stroke of half time Yeoman-Dale was again in the thick of the action having her looping header cleared off the line after Princess Ibini had made a sublime run down the right flank.
With such a dominant attacking performance by the Sky Blues in the first stanza it was only a matter of time until they opened their account for the evening, and it came on 58 minutes. Yeoman-Dale sent in a teasing cross that was knocked home by Ibini for the sole goal of the game. Mackenzie Arnold had done her best to deal with Yeoman-Dale’s cross but could only parry it in the direction of Ibini.
The game continued to be hotly contested with some strong challenges and some very nice touches of class from both sides.
Newly crowned Asian Women’s Player of the year Caitlin Foord made her highly anticipated return from injury off the bench, replacing Ibini with 20 minutes remaining. Despite not doing anything spectacular, Foord was solid and will be happy to have come through the game unscathed
One of the other big moments on the pitch in the second half was the debut of Nigerian international Francisca Ordega. Having signed midweek, she jumped straight into the game and was lively with the touches she had.
Katrina Gorry was far and away the stand out for the visitors as she continued to work hard all night, being an ever present danger from set-pieces and causing the Sydney back four troubles for a large majority of the second half.
Despite a flurry of half-chances in the final 15 minutes, the Roar couldn’t find that elusive equaliser and Sydney FC held on for a valuable 1-0 win in front of over 700 adoring fans.
Sydney coach Daniel Barrett said the win was vital considering the cluster of fixtures coming up, he was also glowing in praise for young striker Princess Ibini who hit the winner. “It was a big win and a very important game coming into the cluster of fixtures that are upon us. It keeps us in a good position, it’s where we want to be which is at the top of the table”.
“I was extremely pleased with Princess’ performance, she’s been awaiting her opportunity and today she played well to go with the goal”.
The win pushes Sydney to first on the Westfield W-League ladder for the time being, but they could slip back down to fourth with Canberra, Melbourne City and Perth Glory having games in hand. Meanwhile, Brisbane stay fifth, but could fall even lower with Newcastle (6th) and Western Sydney (7th) having two games in hand.
Next round Brisbane has the bye, whilst the Sky Blues prepare itself for a huge derby game against cross town rivals Western Sydney Wanderers at Popondetta Park on the 30 December, with a 7pm kick off.