A Round Up Of This Seasons A-League Women By Ben Gilby

During the festive period I was asked to take part in a piece about the A-League Women for the site Impetus Football. From there my eyes were opened to a league I had not really watched before and it definitely peaked my interest. Today's post is from Ben Gilby who has looked beneath the surface of a season that to the outside world may have looked to be a case 'same-old' when in fact there was so much to cherish in terms of breakthroughs and achievements this season. So over to Ben for the rest of the post... 

Just like last season, Sydney FC met Melbourne Victory in the A-League Women Grand Final, and just like last season, Melbourne Victory lifted the trophy at the end of the game. Yet despite this, Australia’s senior women’s football competition had so much more to offer.

Adelaide United made their first ever Finals, Perth Glory came within one goal of qualifying for the Finals ahead of eventual champions Melbourne Victory, and Wellington Phoenix, fielding a team of previously unknown teenagers had a sensational inaugural campaign in the league.

Here’s a team-by-team review of the season...

Team picture, Photo: Adelaide United FC

ADELAIDE UNITED (Final placing: 4 th / 10 then beaten Semi-Finalists)

This was the greatest season in the club’s history. The South Australians played Finals football for the first time and went into the season defining matches as the competition’s in-form side. Boasting the league’s top scorer, former Coventry United striker Fiona Worts, with Chelsie Dawber in career-best form in front of goal too, Adrian Stenta’s side were a joy to watch. Solid at the back, marshaled by Izzy Hodgson and Matilda McNamara, they put last year’s heartache when they missed the Finals by just one goal behind them. With Worts tied down for another year already and Dawber suggesting she may comeback from the NWSL where she recently signed for Chicago Red Stars in time for next season, there is a lot to be positive about in Adelaide long term.

Shea Connors (Orange kit), one of their stand out players in action against Newcastle Jets. Photo: Brisbane Roar.

BRISBANE ROAR (Final placing 6 th / 10)

A real curate’s egg of a season for Brisbane, who are regular competitors in Finals football. They coughed up winning positions in the final 10 minutes in over half of their matches during the season. Yet wins over Finals bound Melbourne Victory and Melbourne City were mixed with an 8-2 thumping by Adelaide United. Two big wins on the bounce against Newcastle Jets also come with a virtual asterisk attached as the Jets could only name a squad of 13 players for those games due to injuries. Shea Connors, Anna Margraf and Katrina Gorry were all outstanding at times, but there were too many inexplicable lapses at the back. Head coach Garrath McPherson faces a big inquisition ahead of preparations for next season.

A-League Women all-time record scorer Michelle Heyman going for goal against Brisbane Roar. Photo: A-League Women.

CANBERRA UNITED (Final placing 7 th / 10)

A complex campaign for the capital city side. Canberra were beaten semi-finalists last season, but the loss of key defenders plus the unavailability of key forward Nickoletta Flannery really hit. United still had talismanic Michelle Heyman, the league’s all-time record scorer, and the outstanding Grace Maher along with new arrival Allira Toby. Yet, the facts are that nine of the 13 points that the Lime Green Machine earned across the campaign came in their final five matches. Head coach Vicki Linton paid the price for the disappointing return, announcing her departure ahead of what Capital Football termed “a major review of the season”.

Holly McNamara (Sky Blue shirt) one of the young stars of the competition this season. Photo: Melbourne City FC.

MELBOURNE CITY (Final placing 2 nd / 10 then beaten Preliminary Finalists)

An impressive return to form by the Sky Blues after last season’s disappointing campaign when they never troubled the top four. Rado Vidosic remains one of the most fascinating coaches to listen to. His weekly press conferences were eagerly awaited during the season as he always had something insightful or passionate to say. City fielded the breakthrough youngster of the season in Holly McNamara who went from a virtual unknown to an international call-up for Australia for the Asian Cup. The 19-year-old formed an outstanding partnership with experienced New Zealand international Hannah Wilkinson. With the return of Rebekah Stott from Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Emma Checker in defence, City were strong, suffering only three losses and the concession of just 11 goals all season. They went down away to Sydney FC in the first week of the Finals in an absolute classic encounter. Finishing second, they earned the right of a challenge the following week with cross city rivals

Melbourne Victory in the Preliminary Final, but the eventual champions, able to field their strongest line-up of the season, comfortably defeated City 3-1. If Vidosic’s side can keep McNamara and Wilkinson, they will push hard next season.

Melbourne Victory players salute their fans after beating Melbourne City in the Preliminary Final. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

MELBOURNE VICTORY (4 th / 10 – then Grand Final Winners)

Melbourne Victory certainly went through the wringer during the campaign. Former Fulham and Crystal Palace player Jeff Hopkins assembled the competition’s best team on paper, but a combination

of injuries, COVID and a horrendous fixture pile-up at the end of the season meant that it wasn’t until the last weeks of the campaign that he could field his strongest team. The problems showed as successive matches over the Christmas period were lost 5-1 to Melbourne City and 4-2 to Brisbane Roar. A spell of seven games in just 25 days stretched Victory, but in a dramatic last day of the season, Hopkins’ team needed a draw against Canberra United to qualify for the Finals ahead of Perth Glory – and they did so. Finishing fourth meant that the defending champions would need to win three successive Finals away from home to take the title – and they did just that winning at Adelaide United, Melbourne City, and Sydney FC to take the silverware. Amy Jackson, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Courtney Nevin deserve huge praise for their efforts along with Catherine Zimmerman and late arrival from the USA, Brooke Hendrix. At their best, the Dark Blues were too good for everyone.

Marie Dolvik in possession for the Jets against Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Getty Images.

NEWCASTLE JETS (8 th / 10)

A season when the ever-underachieving Jets promised so much, but resorted to type with a bottom third finish. Hopes were high pre-season with the arrival of Norwegian international Marie Dølvik along with the retention of regular stars Tara Andrews and Hannah Brewer, but Newcastle never really got going. Their season ended in disaster when, riddled with injuries, they were not allowed to add emergency loan signings to their squad and could only name 13 players for the final games. Once more it is back to the drawing board for their coach Ash Wilson.

One of Perth Glory's shining young stars, Alana Jancevski. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

PERTH GLORY (5 th / 10)

The club who launched the career of local hero Sam Kerr. Perth made three Grand Finals (2015, 2017, 2019) but will look back on the season just gone as arguably the greatest in their history. Due to COVID restrictions on the Western Australia border, Perth only played their first game of the season at home and were forced into a hub 2,500 miles away in North Sydney for the remainder of the campaign. To put this into perspective, that is a five hour flight – equal to flying from London to Iraq. Perth’s squad is made up of players who work and study either at university or at school. To continue playing in the competition they had to get permission to leave and play. In the end, everyone went. Alex Epakis assembled a squad of some of the country’s brightest young talent in Alana Jancevski, Hana Lowry, Susan Phonsongkham, Claudia Mihocic and Sofia Sakalis. There was an experienced spine of returning club legends Kim Carroll and Lisa De Vanna. Despite being so far from home, suffering a COVID outbreak and a big injury list, Perth were outstanding. They missed out on Finals football by just one goal. They are going to be a real threat next season.

Cortnee Vine (Sky blue shirt) captured in familiar maurading style against Melbourne City in the Semi-Final. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

SYDNEY FC (1 st / 10 then beaten Grand Finalists)

For much of the season, the undisputed top team in the competition. Ante Juric’s side were unplayable at times. Cortnee Vine, back after suffering a MCL injury was better than ever. She was red hot down the right, supplying balls in and hitting some great goals herself. She continued this form with the national side after receiving her first ever call up for the Matildas at the Asian Cup. Vine was one of the few positives from a very frustrating tournament in India for Australia. The Sky Blues benefited from a skewed draw and re-arranged games due to COVID which meant that they did not play a game outside of their home state until the final month of the season. When they did go over the border, they lost vital ground against top teams. However, Sydney finished top and so were guaranteed to play all of their Finals matches at home. A high quality 4-2 win over Melbourne City in the semi set up a Grand Final re-run with Melbourne Victory at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium. Sydney absolutely dominated the Grand Final, but failed to take any of their many chances when they arrived. When Melboune Victory created opportunities in the second half, they were converted into goals and in the end, that was the difference. Sydney have already lost key forward Remy Siemsen to AIK in Sweden with Vine highly sought after overseas as well. Sydney have lost three Grand Finals in a row now and need to look into why a team who has dominated during the regular season cannot get over the line.

Wellington players celebrate after recording their first-ever A-League Women victory against Canberra United. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.


Yes they finished bottom, but wow, what a season of huge positives for the Kiwis in their maiden campaign in the competition. A team put together about a month before the season started was, by necessity very young. The vast majority of the team were teenagers and they got better and better as the season went on. Alyssa Whinham was originally just going to be an academy player, but became one of the stars of the whole league. Two games were won and if the season had gone on for another few weeks they would have avoided bottom spot. There is a hugely positive future ahead if head coach Gemma Lewis can keep this team together.

Wanderers' star defender Clare Hunt whose injury had a massive impact on their season. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers.


A desperate season for the Wanderers. Going into the campaign, head coach Catherine Cannuli readily admitted she focused on tightening up defensively rather than on attacking strength. That was born out in the stats as for so long Western Sydney had one of the best defensive records in the competition. However, an injury to Clare Hunt, who had been an absolute defensive rock proved to be disastrous. Seventeen goals were conceded in their final five matches and, given the rapid improvements of Wellington Phoenix during the campaign it is fair to say that Wanderers felt more like wooden spoonists than the Kiwis. Wanderers have one of the best youth set ups in Australian football and outstanding facilities and their continual underachievement in the A-League Women competition is hugely frustrating. They have signaled intent by bringing in Tom Sermanni, former USWNT, Australia and New Zealand head coach as their first head of Women’s Football.

Thank you Ben for today's post, it gives us who aren't too clued up on the league more of an insight of the goings on at each team and I have to say I will be watching a lot more of the A-League Women when it restarts next season... but which team do I pick to follow? 

You can find more from Ben on Twitter, Instagram and of course read more of his posts over at Impetus.

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