Sydney derby ends in exciting stalemate
By Arvind Hickman:
Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Round 8
4pm, Sunday 6 December 2015 – Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Sydney FC 2 (Alanna Kennedy 9’, Kyah Simon 74’)
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Hannah Beard 19’, Liz Grey 84’)
Western Sydney Wanderers have fought back twice against cross-town rivals Sydney FC to rescue a point in an enthralling local derby at Lambert Park on Sunday.
A Kyah Simon-inspired Sky Blues appeared on course to wrap up all three points when the Matildas striker netted their second in the 74th minute.
But ten minutes later, some Keelin Winters magic inspired a brilliant equaliser and a share of the spoils in a game that was high on drama and talking points.
The point lifts Sydney FC to third on the W-League ladder while the Wanderers are sixth, but only a point outside of the top four.
After an even first half, Sydney FC will feel they should gone on to win the game after controlling much of the second half and creating several solid chances.
The Sky Blues were not helped by ill discipline, conceding a penalty and seven yellow cards to the Wanderers one, although some of the calls appeared to be on the soft side.
Sure there were some full-blooded challenges, but no more than you’d expect in a spikey local derby. After a frenetic start to the game, a 15-minute period in which referee Katie Patterson dished out four yellows appeared to frustrate the home side and stifle the game when a few stern words might have controlled the situation better.
An early decision that did favour Sydney FC led to their first goal. A promising Simon run, which evaded a couple of Wanderers, was upended by Ellie Carpenter on the edge of the area. Matildas teammate Alanna Kennedy stepped up and curled a delicious free kick over the wall into the top left corner.
Ten minutes later parity was restored when Wanderers skipper Winters pick-pocketed Teresa Polias in the middle of the pitch and found Hannah Beard in an advanced position on the right. The British flyer surged into the box and hit a low shot into the bottom left corner.
Winters had a golden chance to give the Wanderers the lead just before half time when Patterson spotted an infringement in the box. But Betos guessed correctly and smothered a poor spot kick that lacked power and placement.
The second half began with a further bout of yellow fever, including a terrible late Simon challenge on Carpenter, leaving the young defender wincing in pain.
Kennedy was fortunate not to concede a second Wanderers penalty when she bundled over Linda O’Neill in what appeared to be a body check in the box.
The Sky Blues then stepped it up a gear, with the movement of Simon, Jasmyn Spencer, Princess Ibini and Amy Harrison running the Wanderers ragged.
Simon and Ibini had an almost telepathic understanding and at times seemed unplayable in a 15-minute spell of intense pressure.
In the 74th minute, Ibini picked out Simon in the penalty box, the Matildas forward checked inside her marker and calmly rolled the ball past Whyman.
Moments later, Ibini’s slide-rule ball for Simon forced Whyman to rush off her line and make a crucial interception.
The ever-industrious Spencer then fed Ibini with a peach of a ball, but good cover defence from Carpenter forced the Wanderers forward to rush her shot into the path of Whyman.
After weathering the Sky Blues storm, Norm Boardman sent on fresh legs and it inspired a sucker punch of immense quality.
Picking up the ball deep in her half, Winters played an inch-perfect Xabi Alonso-esque diagonal ball into the path of Alix Roberts on the right flank, leaving Sydney’s defence flat-footed and scrambling. Roberts then darted to the byline and expertly cut the ball into the path of Elizabeth Grey on the edge of the area. The striker’s clinical first time strike into the bottom left corner left Betos with no chance.
“We came with a plan not to lie down and let them walk all over us and I think the girls stood up well today,” Boardman told Back of the Net.
“I think we weathered that period for 15 minutes where Princess and Kyah started getting on the ball a little bit more and were given more freedom than we would have liked. The girls then tightened it up.
“They were a little bit tired so we made a couple of tactical changes and I think that put a bit of spark into our team and you can see from the goal that two subs combined to score it.”
Sydney FC: Michelle Betos (gk), Liz Ralston, Jasmyne Spencer, Teresa Polias (c), Amy Harrison, Princess Ibini-Isei, Natalie Tobin (Sunny Franco 88’), Alanna Kennedy, Teigen Allen, Kyah Simon, Leena Khamis
Substitutes – Sham Khamis (gk), Olivia Price, Hannah Bacon
Cautions – Alanna Kennedy 15’, Teigen Allen 29’, Amy Harrison 31’, Jasmyne Spencer 32’, Leena Khamis 50’, Kyah Simon 56’
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Jada Whyman (gk), Carmelina Moscato, Chloe O’Brien (Liz Grey 79’), Rachael Soutar (Helen Petinos 71’), Erica Halloway, Michelle Carney, Keelin Winters (c), Hannah Beard (Alix Roberts 79’), Demi Koulizakis, Ellie Carpenter, Linda O’Neill
Substitutes – Lisa Farrington (gk)
Cautions – Michelle Carney 93’
Coach: Norm Boardman
Referee: Katie Paterson
Assistant referees: Eleanor Hayes, Sarah Wikeley
Pitch: 9/10 (astroturf)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Keelin Winters, Hannah Beard, Erica Halloway
Sydney FC: Kyah Simon, Princess Ibini, Alanna Kennedy