The Sydney FC women will look to record back-to-back victories for the first time this Liberty A-League season when they take on the Melbourne Victory on Friday afternoon (5pm).
Only four points separate second-placed Sydney FC and Melbourne in 6th in a congested A-League table.
If Sydney FC win, it will bring them within four points of the ladder leaders, Melbourne City.
The Sky Blues will also look to win their fourth consecutive game against the Victory, with their most recent win being in the semi-finals last season when Madison Haley scored an 89th-minute goal when keeper Casey Dumont fumbled the ball into her path.
Ante Juric praised his team after Sydney FC defeated the Newcastle Jets 2-1, saying: “That was easily the best we’ve played all year.”
In sweltering conditions, a goal to young-gun Maddie Caspers and a stoppage-time screamer by Zara Kruger from a Kirsty Fenton through ball secured the Sky Blues’ win, moving them into the top two.
In a match where ball possession was even, Sydney FC were able to keep Newcastle in their half for most of the match, which denied them prolonged opportunities in the Sky Blues final third.
Skilful saves by Jada Whyman, and effective clearances especially from Kirsty Fenton and Tori Tumeth, limited the Jets chances at scoring after their goal in the 16th minute, and subsequently, allowed the Sky Blues to generate enough momentum which was converted into two goals.
Sydney FC will welcome a week break after they played three games in seven days, where they scored on all three occasions and earned six points.
They also achieved this without long term injuries Lucy Johnson, Shea Connors and Fiona Worts; all of them remain unavailable for this week’s match.
Sydney FC hopes that Abbey Lemon and Taylor Ray are fit to play after they sustained concussion against Central Coast Mariners last Wednesday.
Melbourne Victory recorded no injuries in their suspenseful 3-2 win against Canberra United.
A stoppage-time finish by substitute Emily Gielnik capped off a dominant Victory performance, where they picked up their first win since before Christmas.
The Victory had over 100 more passes than their Canberra opponents and dominated almost 60% of the ball.
In the broader competition, Jeff Hopkins’ side has struggled to be clinical in front of their opponent’s net, as in the past month, they have had 61 shots at goal and only five goals to show for it.
Both Hopkins’ and Juric’s sides have also been highly physical, with Sydney FC recording 53 fouls in their last six matches and Melbourne clocking in 61.
Of both teams last six goals, the Victory scored four in the first half, while Sydney FC scored five in the second half.
Head to head, Victory have only managed to beat the Sky Blues once at AAMI Park, this being in 2020.
Key Matchup: Jada Whyman vs Rachel Lowe
Rachel Lowe has risen to fifth on the Golden Boot rankings after scoring three goals in three weeks for the Victory.
But this match day, she will come face-to-face with Matildas keeper and former team-mate Jada Whyman, who has made key saves in the past few weeks for the Sky Blues.
Against Western United, Whyman, with an outstretched left boot, blocked a one-on-one chance with Keiwa Heida and last week, she blocked three shots, including one diving save.
The former Sydney FC forward Lowe scored nine goals in 47 appearances for the Sky Blues but has found form for the Dark Blues, slotting seven in thirteen appearances for the club.
For Lowe, Whyman is the player she has played alongside the most (63 matches played together), so she may be familiar with Whyman’s strengths.
Lowe has also featured three seasons under Ante Juric since 2020/21.
Watching how she interacts with her old team after leaving last season and whether she can find a goal against a team that is familiar of her, will be an interesting watch.
Whyman will be looking to get her third clean sheet of the year and fifth away cleat sheet of the season, but will Lowe continue her blistering form as the Victory’s top goal scorer?
Melbourne Victory vs Sydney FC
Liberty A-League Round 14
Friday 26th January, 2024
AAMI Park, Melbourne, VIC
Kick Off: 5:00PM
Gates Open: 4:00PM
Broadcast Live: Paramount+, 10Play
Tickets: Click Here