O’Neill and Glory ‘family’ making most of situation, Jada’s historic day

KEEPUP followed on LIVE to bring you all the highlights, scores, analysis and biggest talking points across the Liberty A-League and Isuzu UTE A-League.

It started with A-League Women leaders Sydney FC facing Melbourne City in a top-of-the-table showdown as Jada Whyman equalled a record and the action concluded in the evening as Daniel Sturridge’s Perth Glory trumped Sydney.

All games are available live via Channel 10’s Paramount+


O’Neill: We’re one big family at Glory

Talk about a challenging season, Perth have endured almost everything in 2021-22.

It remains to be seen where the Glory will be based after the Western Australia government performed a U-turn on its plan to re-open the border on February 5.

But for Glory captain O’Neill, he is just making the most of the family atmosphere away from home.

“We’re a group that I guess get spurred on by things happening to us and we’ve had a lot of bad things happen to us but yet again, we pull out all stops to get a victory,” the former Sydney midfielder and man of the match said.

On the situation, he added: “You want to see our TV and dinner room last night with the Ping-Pong going on and lads have brought their family over.

“That’s what we’re making it – one big family on the road. My wife and my little girl will be hopefully joining me this week. We’re making the best of it.

“We still get to wake up in the morning, have a coffee, have lunch and train, and kick a ball. I haven’t kicked a ball in a long time. That was my third game in a year and that’s all I want to be doing. I just want to be involved in a family life as a club and go out and have a crack.”

‘Same old story’ for Wilkinson’s Sydney

Sydney captain Alex Wilkinson was clearly deflated after another disappointing result.

Beaten in the FFA Cup semis and lacking a cutting edge, the pressure is mounting on Corica and Sydney, who have only won two of their eight league fixtures this term.

“Same old story really. Last three games have been the same, controlled a lot of the game and still not creating quality chances,” Wilkinson told Paramount+.

For all the ball we have, we’re just not getting too many clear-cut chances. We’re struggling to find the net at the moment. At the other end, they get a couple of chances and take them, and we’re on the back foot.”

Sydney have had a busy schedule but Wilkinson refused to use the fixture list as an excuse.

“All teams are going to have to do it throughout this period at some stage with made-up games and the COVID situation as it is,” the Australian defender said. “We just have to get through it as best we can.”

Perth dig deep to defy the odds

Not much has gone right for the Glory this season. With their backs against the wall, Perth have endured a COVID outbreak and border restrictions.

Just as there was light at the end of the tunnel with Western Australia’s border initially scheduled to re-open next month, Perth have now been displaced after the state went back on their original plan.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty, Perth put that to one side to record just their second victory of a difficult campaign.

“Full of admiration for the Perth Glory Football Club. This sets them up nicely for, goodness knows what’s next,” Channel 10 co-commentator Harper said post-game.

“But well done to them. Just so strong and brave, to be staring down these circumstances and beating Sydney away from home.”

Glory defender Darryl Lachman added: “100% (means a lot). We didn’t play for a long time and then played the Brisbane game, so we needed to get the legs going.

“We have to wrap our heads around it and keep doing what we’re doing now.”

Too little, too late for stuttering Sydney

The Sky Blues managed to get on the scoreboard via a spot-kick in stoppage time.

Substitute Mustafa Amini went down in the area following a foul by O’Neill as Anthony Caceres made no mistake with his 92nd-minute penalty.

It set up a nervy finish but Perth held on for their first victory away to Sydney since February 2016.

Sydney have now gone three games without a win across all competitions as Perth – who have two matches in hand – climbed within two points of the sixth-placed Sky Blues.

Game, set and match?

Perth have hardly played any football due to the COVID and border situation but Glory lead Sydney 2-0 with five minutes remaining.

Bruno Fornaroli showed terrific composure to create space and time before firing a shot across Redmayne.

Perth haven’t beaten Sydney on the road in six years…

There was a nervy moment when Sturridge appeared to clutch his hamstring, but he continued on.

Glory’s star man shows glimpse of his quality

It didn’t take long for Sturridge to show why Perth fought hard to prise him to the A-Leagues.

He almost helped double Perth’s lead with his terrific footwork and vision as the Englishman floated a delightful throughball to Adrian Sardinero with 22 minutes remaining.

Sturridge enters the fray

Fans in attendance, even Sydney supporters, were keen to get a glimpse of Sturridge and they were treated to the Englishman’s introduction just after the hour-mark.

In his longest cameo yet, Sturridge joined Andy Keogh on the pitch as part of a very attacking change by Garcia with his side leading 1-0.

O’Neill returns to haunt former team

Brandon O’Neill spent five years with Sydney, winning a pair of Premierships and Championships as well as an FFA Cup before leaving the Sky Blues for Pohang Steelers in 2020.

Back in the A-Leagues via boyhood team Perth, O’Neill returned to haunt his former club 10 minutes into the second half.

The game was crying out for a goal and O’Neill delivered as he squeezed a shot into the corner of the net after Jack Clisby’s long-range effort proved too hot to handle for Andrew Redmayne.

‘I expected a lot more’ – Brosque

Safe to say former Sydney star Alex Brosque was not satisfied with the Sky Blues’ performance in the opening half.

After Channel 10 analyst Archie Thompson voiced his criticism of Sydney’s lacklustre display, which he dubbed “really pedestrian”, Brosque also aired his half-time thoughts.

“The intensity just isn’t there,” he said. “Given they’re playing a team who have been out for as long as they have without football, I expected a lot more.

“Corica will definitely be pushing that point home that they need to try to come out and win this game early.”

Sydney come to life before HT

Chances were few and far between in the first half but Sydney did manage to make things interest prior to the interval.

Whatever Corica said during the drinks break worked as the Sky Blues pushed forward with renewed vigour and purpose, without anything to show for it.

0-0 and all to play for in the second 45.

A game lacking ‘rhythm’

Both Sydney and Perth struggled for any kind of fluidity, with turnovers aplenty inside the opening 30 minutes.

During the call, Channel 10 commentator Simon Hill said: “It’s a game that needs rhythm”.

Neither team have been able to take control of the ball or game.

Patrick Yazbek of Sydney FC competes for the ball against Antonee Burke-Gilroy of the Glory.

Dancing Elvis causing problems

Kamsoba has been a man reborn with the Sky Blues after struggling to win over Melbourne Victory fans.

The pacey attacker almost helped put Sydney ahead in the ninth minute when he drove into the box and his cross-shot painfully missed the outstretching Bobo.

Bobo’s back!

After the disappointment of the FFA Cup semi-final loss to Central Coast Mariners, Steve Corica has turned to veteran Brazilian forward Bobo to lead the line alongside in-form attacker Elvis Kamsoba.

There could also be a debut for sixth-placed Sydney, with Connor O’Toole among the subs.

Can Perth kick-start their season?

Amid the backdrop of Western Australia’s decision to keep their border closed, Perth have business to attend to in Sydney, where the Sky Blues await.

It’s been a troubling season in more ways than one for the Glory, who head into Saturday night’s fixture bottom of the table.

Sydney have struggled for consistency, so Perth will be hopeful of recording just their second A-League Men victory of the season.

Former Liverpool and Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge will again start on the bench, despite Richard Garcia making four changes to the line-up.


City finally punished as Checker laments display

City captain Checker could not hide her disappointment after the visitors were completely outplayed against Sydney.

“It’s disappointing,” Checker said. “Obviously we came into the game with much higher expectations in terms of the result but even the standard we played at.

“The first half was the most disappointing. We struggled to keep the ball, we were frantic and flat. We’ve had games like that in the first half in recent weeks and we’ve been fortunate enough that teams haven’t capitalised but up against a strong opposition like Sydney, they took control of the first half.

“We came back strong in the second half but it wasn’t enough today.”

Whyman ties record as stingy Sydney stay hot

Not even second-placed City could snap Sydney’s unbeaten start to the season in the top-of-the-table blockbuster.

A seventh successive clean sheet meant Sydney goalkeeper Whyman equalled the A-League Women record held by Matildas veteran Williams.

A memorable afternoon for Whyman as Sydney moved seven points clear atop the table, with the Premiership firmly in sight, while City’s four-match winning streak came to an abrupt halt.

Sydney have now scored a whopping 26 goals in eight games, having only been breached once so far.

A City debut as Barbieri’s evening ends

With the game out of reach, Vidosic cleared his City bench, handing a club debut to goalkeeper and Young Matilda Sally James, who has battled injury and COVID this season.

James was signed, apparently in the view to be number one, but the teenager has her hands full amid Barbieri’s stellar form.

Ruthless Sydney leave City in their wake

For all of City’s improvement after the break, they were still no match for Sydney.

As space opened up, Sydney took full advantage as Lowe netted her second of the match, putting the result beyond doubt after an emphatic finish 16 minutes from the end.

The 3-0 scoreline means Sydney have now scored 18 goals in their past four games without conceding.

Jada says no with record in sight!

City continued to pepper Sydney’s goal but Whyman was equally up the task.

With a half of football standing in between Whyman and the share of Liberty A-League history, the exciting Australian goalkeeper pulled off a sharp save to her left, keeping out Wilkinson approaching the hour-mark.

City’s celebrations cut short

Rado Vidosic’s City emerged with renewed intent in the second half and they managed to find the back of the net within three minutes of the restart via Emma Checker.

But as Checker wheeled away in celebration, the referee whistled for a foul on Whyman, much to the dismay of City.

Still 2-0 for Sydney.

‘Fearful’ City showing Sydney too much respect?

City looked a shadow of the team that have won four games in a row prior to today.

Channel 10 analyst Georgia Yeoman-Dale highlighted two key issues during the half-time break.

“They’re trying to play this highline to catch Sydney FC offside but it’s not working all the time,” she said. “When that doesn’t work, you’re in a lot of trouble because half your backline is stepping up.”

Yeoman-Dale continued: “I think City look a little fearful. I think they’ve given so much respect to Sydney FC.

“Looking at them as top of the table, going ‘this is a big team to come up against’ and it’s a tough battle. If they were to be playing the football they’ve been playing in their previous matches, they’d be competing with this Sydney FC side.”

Satchell savours Sydney first

With Siemsen and Vine away on international duty, Satchell took centre stage in the opening 45 minutes.

Her pace a constant threat on the left, Satchell celebrated her first goal in Sky Blue colours after breaking the deadlock.

“It’s my first goal for Sydney FC, so it’s great to finish it off,” Satchell told Paramount+. “It’s good going into half-time leading 2-0. I think we can relax the ball a little bit more.

“Getting that goal was really important for us, just to play our game so we’re not rushing around and panicking.”

Satchell added: “We finished the half on a really good foot. We just have to keep playing how we have been.

“We started a bit rough but we grew into the game. As long as we keep this momentum going, we will be okay.”

Sydney in cruise control at half-time!

Playing against a top-four team for the first time this season, all eyes were on Sydney and whether they could maintain their red-hot form.

Sydney emphatically showed why they are the team to beat after their dominance yielded a 2-0 half-time cushion.

With two minutes before the interval, Rachel Lowe capped off a sublime team goal, which began with Whyman at the back.

City face an uphill battle in the second half.

Barbieri’s resistance finally broken

Often dominant in possession and exciting going forward, City have been off the pace in the opening half and Sydney’s positive start was rewarded in the 33rd minute.

For all of Barbieri’s amazing work, she is not superwoman as the former Matilda couldn’t keep out Paige Satchell’s close-range effort.

Played in by Princess Ibini, the New Zealand international made no mistake after City were carved open.

Jada’s record bid intact!

Not to be outdone by her City counterpart, Whyman produced a huge save of her own to keep the scores level.

Far from their best, with a number of misplaced passes, City were gifted with an opportunity following a mishit backpass approaching the half-hour mark.

However, Whyman – who is looking to match idol Williams’ record for the most clean sheets in the history of the competition – came up big to keep out Rebekah Stott.

Barbieri looking for a Matildas recall?

The 41-year-old called time on her international career in 2015, but she has been in inspired form.

After her enormous save to deny Rojas, Barbieri was at it again six minutes later as she palmed away Charlotte Mclean’s long-range effort.

It could be a busy evening for the City keeper, who is all that is standing between Sydney and the lead.

Barbieri to the rescue!

If not for Melissa Barbieri, City would already be behind in Kogarah.

City’s defence were caught out in the seventh minute and Maria Rojas was gifted a chance from point-blank range but Australian star Barbieri pulled off a gigantic one-on-save to thwart the Sydney forward.

City embracing underdogs tag

Despite winning four games on the bounce, City meet Sydney as the underdogs away from home.

It is a scenario Golden Boot leader Hannah Wilkinson is relishing, with City looking to spoil the party.

On the importance of getting a result, Wilkinson said: “It’s pretty important. It’s definitely a game we’ve been looking forward to.

“Sydney are looking like a pretty decent team obviously, they’ve won like every single game but I’m excited.”

Sydney in championship form?

It’s been over nine hours since Sydney last conceded a goal, against Newcastle Jets at the start of December.

That form has Whyman on track to equal a longstanding record.

Championship teams are built on a solid defensive foundation and Sky Blues head coach Ante Juric highlighted the hard work done behind the scenes this season.

“Historically it is in any league in the world,” Juric told Paramount+ when asked about the importance of a solid defence in pursuit of silverware. “But we work on that, it doesn’t just come by not doing anything. We work hard.

“Our strikers work hard defensively, our midfield and back four and then obviously Jada to break down.

“We’re happy with where we are but hard work is why we’ve got those results.”

City to break Sydney’s stubborn resistance?

Up until this point, no team has been able to stop high-flying Sydney in the A-League Women.

Melbourne City are their nearest rivals, four points off the pace, having won four consecutive matches after a derby defeat in December.

Like Sydney, City have been impacted by the Women’s Asian Cup, with in-form Holly McNamara in India for Australia’s title tilt, though they have regained Winonah Heatley.

Heatley, who missed out on a spot in the final 23-player squad, jumps straight back into the XI in the only change.

All eyes on history-chasing Whyman

Aside from the Asian Cup-related absentees of Matildas duo Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine, there are no surprises in Sydney FC’s starting XI as Sky Blues goalkeeper Jada Whyman seeks to make history.

The 22-year-old Whyman has the chance to equal Australia star Lydia Williams’ Liberty A-League record of seven consecutive clean sheets with a shutout against visiting City.

Sydney are unbeaten and tough to beat this season, having scored 23 goals while conceding just once through seven matches.