Talking Points: Can City’s resolute defence take them all the way to the title?

Melbourne was the centre of the Westfield W-League universe over the weekend as both City and Victory showed they are very much in the title conversation.

As both Harbour City clubs – Sydney FC (match postponed) and Western Sydney Wanderers (bye) watched on – the two Melbourne outfits recorded vital and impressive wins.

City kicked things off on Thursday night as they held off an in-form and hungry Brisbane Roar 2-0 in Redcliffe.

Fighting to consolidate their top-four spot, Roar threw everything at the visitors but just couldn’t crack the sky blue wall.

While Rado Vidosic’s side were rightly considered one of the pre-season favourites, it’s the way they have gone about things which has surprised many.

During City’s Championship three-peat from 2015/16 to 2017/18, the side was known for their full-throttle attacking play and goal-scoring feats.

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But this City incarnation is building their success at the other end of the pitch.

Vidosic’s side is garnering their results from a solid defensive and immense work-rate right across the park, then relying on their quality and experience to shine when it counts.

It’s a method that is working wonders so far. The shut-out of Roar was City’s third clean-sheet in a row and they have shipped just three goals in seven matches.

Underlining how much City have relied on their defensive strength for their success is they fact they have scored just 10 goals from seven games and still sit top of the ladder by three points (although the Wanderers have a game in hand).

City’s goal return is well behind the Wanderers (16 goals) and fewer than third-place Sydney FC (12), while Roar (fifth place) and Canberra United (sixth) have scored the same amount.

With the likes of Kyah Simon, Claire Emslie, Milica Mijatovic and Emily van Egmond in their squad, the goals could soon flow for City as their combinations continue to develop.

But they can be confident that they can rely on their solid defensive base when the big games come around at the end of the campaign.

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Victory finally hitting their straps

While City have been in excellent nick all season, their crosstown rivals Victory made a slow start to the campaign but have been picking up momentum in recent weeks.

As defending Premiers, Jeff Hopkins’ side had a target on their back from the start of the season.

They collected just four points from their opening four games – either side of a trip to Korea Republic for the AFC Women’s Club Championship.

But the signs are good that Victory may have turned the corner.

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Sunday’s 2-1 win over Newcastle Jets – thanks to first-half goals from Natasha Dowie and Darian Jenkins – means they have accumulated seven points from their last three games.

The result has lifted Victory back into the top four, one point ahead of both Brisbane Roar and Canberra United.

While their stuttering start means it is now a big ask to retain their Premiership, they are picking up speed heading towards the Finals Series.

Groundhog day for unfortunate Reds

After their best Westfield W-League season ever in 2018/19, Adelaide United were hopeful of pushing for a top four spot this campaign.

But things just haven’t gone to plan for Ivan Karlovic’s side over the opening eight rounds of 2019/20.

Heading into Friday night’s clash with Perth Glory, the youthful Reds had been competitive in every match but had no points to show for their efforts.

All that looked set to change after the opening 45 minutes at Marden Sports Complex as goals from Chelsie Dawber and Mary Fowler had them 2-0 up at the break.

Even though Crystal Thomas pulled one back for the visitors, the Reds looked set to hold on for all three points as the clock ticked over into stoppage-time.

But a contentious 93rd-minute penalty saw Glory snatch a 2-2 draw to deny the Reds a first win and keep them rooted to the bottom of the ladder.

While missing out on a hard-earned win is sure to sting, at least Adelaide have a point on the board and something to build on for the remainder of the campaign.

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NOTE: There is still one match to be played from Round 8 following the postponement of Canberra United’s home clash against Sydney FC.

The fixture will be played at a later date still to be confirmed.

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