Sydney FC had to rely on a Leena Khamis goal eight minutes from full-time to secure a 2-1 win over a gallant Melbourne Victory in their Westfield W-League clash at Parramatta Stadium.
The home side was forced to come from behind to knock over the gallant Victorians who had held a half-time lead and would have secured a share of the points but for a last-minute penalty save from Sydney’s Rachel Cooper.
The win kept Sydney at the top of the table and the only team on six points after first-round winners Newcastle Jets and Queensland Roar suffered surprise defeats.
Sydney had the much the better of play throughout but struggled in the first half to turn dominance into goalscoring opportunities.
Completely against the run of play Victory midfielder Sarah Groenewald opened the scoring for the visitors. After an impressive run on the right flank, Groenewald cut inside and her deflected shot found its way past Sydney goalkeeper Rachel Cooper, who had yet to be forced into a save of any significance.
Incredibly the Victory could have gone two up a couple of minutes later but a close range header was ruled out for an earlier infringement.
Late in the first half Khamis had strong claims for a penalty waved away after being bundled over by Maika Ruyter-Hooley ending a strong run from the Sydneysider with a physical challenge.
Sydney was inching closer with Matildas striker Khamis at the centre of most of the home side’s attacking forays and she flashed a header narrowly wide after a perfect Heather Garriock cross from the left.
Finally the team in sky blue got its reward with Nicole Bolger forcing the ball home after earlier efforts from Khamis and Michelle Heyman were blocked.
Sydney upped the ante as the match wore on and Kylie Ledbrook unleashed a spectacular volley that forced an equally impressive stop from Melissa Barbieri.
The Matildas’ custodian looking solid throughout the match, proving a tough last line of defence.
Khamis looked set to finally hit get on the scoresheet but hit the post from an angled shot after great run by Matildas midfielder Joanne Burgess who was debuting for the home side.
Khamis’ running off the ball and her interchange with the midfield always looked dangerous and the decisive moment of the match came though such an exchange.
Ledbrook threading a pass through for Khamis who converted comfortably past the exposed Barbieri.
There was still time for late drama though as a through ball from Marlies Oostdam for New Zealand colleague Rebecca Tegg saw the later awarded a penalty a minute from time after a clumsy exchange with Sydney goalkeeper Cooper.
However Oostdam drove her penalty hard but straight at Cooper who managed to successfully parry the shot and help ensure her side remains the only team with two wins after two rounds.
“I thought we dominated the game with our possession,” said Sydney FC coach Ante Juric who led the team in the absence of Alen Stajcic in Malaysia with the Young Matildas.
“We didn’t create as many chances as I would have liked, but in saying that we had four or five good opportunities that we didn’t put away.”
“They are a tough team to beat, are quite physical and play to their strengths but overall I thought we deserved the result.”
Sydney FC 2 (Nicole Bolger 55-, Leena Khamis 82-)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Sarah Groenewald 24-)
Parramatta Stadium, Parramatta
Saturday 1 November 2008
Referee: Jacqui Melksham
Sydney FC line-up: 1.Rachel COOPER (gk), 3.Danielle BROGAN, 5.Lisa GILBERT, 6.Servet UZUNLAR, 7.Heather GARRIOCK (c), 8.Jo BURGESS, 10.Kylie LEDBROOK, 11.Michelle HEYMAN (12.Carlie IKONUMOU 89-), 18.Nicole BOLGER (13.Loren MAHONEY 55-), 19.Leena KHAMIS, 21.Jordan MARSH
Substitutes not used: 14.Maggie ELHUSSEINI
Yellow cards: Danielle Brogan 41-
Red Cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory line-up: 1.Melissa BARBIERI (gk), 3.Marlies OOSTDAM, 4.Tal KARP (c), 5.Laura ALLEWAY (16.Bronwyn NUTLEY 86-), 6.Maika RUYTER-HOOLEY, 7.Sarah GROENEWALD (17.Alisha FOOTE 59-), 8.Louisa BISBY (2.Megan ARCHER 80-), 9.Rebecca TEGG, 11.Brittany TIMKO, 15.Daniela DIGGIAMMARCO, 19.Enza BARILLA.
Substitutes not used: 20.Nicole PAUL (gk)
Yellow cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil