‘I hate that we’re here so often with some of the best players in the country’: Dub Zone Talking Points

FULL EPISODE: Watch Episode 7 of Dub Zone here.

These were the key talking points from the seventh episode of Dub Zone, breaking down all the key moments from another action-packed weekend in the Liberty A-League.

Perth Glory have overtaken Melbourne City for top spot on the ladder after ending the hosts’ six game unbeaten streak with a 3-1 win and while striker Hannah Wilkinson managed to get on the scoresheet, questions remain over City’s leaky defence.

21-year-old Serbian midfielder Vesna Milivojević put her name in lights once more after scoring her first ever A-Leagues hat-trick in Canberra United’s 5-1 victory over Brisbane Roar, but a late injury scare cut celebrations short.

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Over in New Zealand, Wellington Phoenix played out an entertaining 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory in a top four clash.

However, news that Chloe Knott terminated her contract dominated headlines in the build-up to the game, raising concern over the need to balance work and football commitments.

Football Ferns and Melbourne City star Hannah Wilkinson joined host Niav Owens, A-Leagues commentator Teo Pellizzeri and Matildas legend Alicia Ferguson to dissect all these major talking points on Dub Zone.

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Injury scare strikes ‘Dolan Medal and Golden Boot’ contender

Canberra United finally secured their first victory of the season with a 5-1 demolition of Brisbane Roar and there was one player who stole the show.

It took just 17 minutes for 21-year-old star Vesna Milivojević to put her side two goals up before sealing her hat-trick in the second-half and she was just as instrumental in build-up play, taking her total goal involvements to 13 in her last seven Liberty A-League games.

However, the elation of the victory was clouded by a late injury scare as Milivojević fell to the turf clutching her knee after attempting to gain possession against Roar captain Ayesha Norrie.

Speaking on Dub Zone, A-Leagues commentator Teo Pellizzeri said everyone will be anxiously awaiting to hear the verdict on Milivojević’s injury, particularly given the number of players who’ve been forced to the sidelines for the remainder of the season already this term.

“This was shortly after she had completed the hat-trick, again slight shoulder-to-shoulder contact but in terms of the legs, no contact really,” he said.

“(She) left the ground with an ice pack on, and walked down the tunnel. We’ll wait nervously on scans, we hope it’s good news.

“Vesna’s initial reaction was one of concern, but she’s also such a fearsome competitor. You can see the pride she had to walk away to not drop the poker face.

“After losing Holly McNamara from the league, Vesna was on track to win the (Julie) Dolan (Medal), win the Golden Boot, light up the league every week.

“We’re looking at 20-plus goals potentially for the season in a 22-game season and now it’s a nervous wait.

“I hate that we’re here so often with some of the best players in the country.”

Milivojevic has led the way in attack as Canberra have scored an impressive 15 goals already in just five Liberty A-League matches to kick off the campaign.

It’s also worth noting the age profiles of the two other goalscorers with 19-year-old Sofia Christopherson and 17-year-old Mary Stanic-Floody showing promise in front of goal, which could provide a timely boost for Canberra, particularly if Milivojevic is ruled out for an extended period.

“Christopherson is a homegrown player so credit to the Canberra United academy and you saw the post game scenes and the goal celebrations, this is a turning point for them, they’re always slow starters,” Pellizzeri said.

“(Two seasons ago) under Vicki Linton, last season under Njegosh Popovich, (and now for the) third season in a row we got to Round 7 and Canberra still hadn’t won a game.

“They’re a streaky team, I think they go on a streak from here.”

Melbourne City star’s take on her side’s conundrum

Melbourne City headed into their match-up against Perth Glory as the only unbeaten side in the competition, but that came undone when they were handed a 3-1 loss.

Despite being the more productive side in the attacking third and in possession, City weren’t able to capitalise on the opener scored by Hannah Wilkinson in the 17th minute.

Wilkinson was a special guest on the Dub Zone panel this week and gave an honest assessment of her side’s performance, noting how the absence of centre-back Rebekah Stott had an impact on the team’s defensive organisation.

“Stotty, when she’s going to be missing it’s going to be obvious,” she said.

“I think she’s that good of a player. It’s also tough having a completely different backline together, that’s always hard to do especially just straight away into a match so that’s tough to do, but overall you know I think the ones that did start did put up a really good performance despite the result.

“I thought they stepped up… we had a lot of chances, but just couldn’t put them away.”

Matildas legend Alicia Ferguson added: “I’ve said this before, kind of like a City brand, blueprint of playing where it’s not necessarily about conceding.

“Of course you don’t want to concede – you just want to score more goals than the opposition, but that’s what’s missing at the moment, some of those clinical finishes.”

The lack of player availability due to the tight turnaround after the international break certainly impacted City’s performance, but they’ll be seeking to bounce back from the defeat when they take on Central Coast Mariners next weekend with a chance to reclaim top spot on table.

Chloe Knott’s ‘brave’ decision that reflects the harsh reality for female footballers

Chloe Knott’s decision to walk away from the Wellington Phoenix was a major topic of discussion in the lead-up to their fixture against Melbourne Victory.

The 27-year-old midfielder has been ever-present in the Nix’s set-up, not missing a Liberty A-League match in the club’s history, but the challenge of juggling professional football alongside full-time employment saw her decide to depart the club last week.

Knott was Wellington’s captain for the most part of last season and was appointed vice-captain when Paul Temple took reins as head coach this term.

Fellow New Zealander Wilkinson praised not only Knott’s decision, but also her bravery to speak out about the harsh reality of many female athletes who still take up a second job given “financial obligations.”

“Honestly it was a brave thing for her to do,” she said. “I’m really gutted for her, I’m really disappointed for her.

“I think she’s done a massive service by making it apparent and speaking out about that issue because it is a reality, but it’s now a reality that’s talked about enough and so she’s done a really selfless thing here and spoken about that.

“It’s important that this is recognised and the investment in women’s football and women’s sport in general needs to be looked at because she can’t play professionally, she can’t afford it so it’s a heartbreaking thing.”

Ferguson drew similarities with her own playing days, along with her teammates who also had to balance their academic studies with football.

“I was a full-time athlete and I had to work full-time as well,” she said.

“We were training the same amount of hours, you just have to earn a living, all the girls were going to university in between.

“I think we need to be a bit careful saying some of these players are professional, when we’re still on the cusp. There’s a bit of a grey area in there… and it’s just the protection of the players and wellbeing of the players too because it’s a lot to take on.”

Knott will be sorely missed by the Nix who will now recruit midfield replacements, but her move shines a light on the financial pressures on many players who’ve had to put their careers on hold just to support themselves.