CommBank conquered

The Sydney derby in Parramatta served up a sumptuous performance from the girls in blue as the Wanderers were swept aside by a Remy Siemsen double. Reaching the comfort zone with time to spare, a host of changes allowed us to see some of the emerging talent and Sydney FC made a big statement of intent for this season, easing to their second straight win to start the 2021/22 season.

This early evening Saturday fixture was a tricky one to fit in. With everyone doing stuff during the day or at night, that left the choice of heading to the game solo or being on time to a party nearby in North West Sydney. Commonsense prevailed and I headed out on the bus to the end of Victoria Road, past the ‘fun’ fair and on to the beautiful arena that is CommBank Stadium.

There were a decent number of fans entering the main gate B and the concourse was alive with the usual games and merch stalls, the clouds having thinned and the weather on our side. I got my times mixed up between Saturday and Sunday, and the 5.15pm kick off was actually 5.05pm, so the players were out and in their huddle once I’d got down to the front of the away section. No drink outlets open, no time to walk the length of the field to get one, plenty of water today.

There were familiar faces. Expert capo and the sky blue side of The Ladies League, Michelle was in position to lead away the chants, and with a smattering of supporters, this was not going to be an easy task. Luckily the acoustics at CommBank Stadium mean that you can make a racket when it’s quiet and big voices carry. None bigger than Michelle’s. It did however mean that some of the desired chants had to be tempered, nothing like singing “F*ck you Western Sydney scum ole ole” when it’s obvious that you’re the one singing it, and there were plenty of youngsters around in earshot. “Heck you Western Sydney scum” made us all laugh. Hopefully the players could hear, as the chants continued throughout the game.

Sydney FC were dominant from the start. Courtnee Vine looked menacing, but the first real chance came via a Sarah Hunter free kick that was spectacularly tipped over at the far end by the Wanderers keeper. Remy Siemsen lashed one over, but we didn’t have to wait long to see a goal – a flowing move from an interception in midfield led to Princess Ibini feeding Mackenzie Hawkesby, who could have been offside, and her low shot was only parried into the path of the lurking Siemsen to tap the ball home unchallenged for 1-0. Lovely stuff. Wanderers had a chance when their midfielder rode a number of challenges to reach the edge of the box, but the shot was high and wide to much derision from the crowd. The referee stepped in as the half wore on with some puzzling decisions. There were very harsh yellow cards dished out to Sydney players for challenges, a theme that would continue for both teams for the remainder of the game. Jada Whyman made a fine save to push one over, but Wanderers were very much second best.

Half time with Sydney well ahead but only one goal up, and the entertainment started immediately as the whistle blew, the loud voice of the announcer drowning out any applause that was given. Sunderland reject Jack Rodwell was interviewed on the sideline, the young kids played their half-time games and the Sydney FC substitutes decided not to listen in to the half time talk and sprayed the ball around beautifully across the pristine surface.

New Matildas star Bryleeh Henry was on for the second half for Wanderers, but had no time to get into the game before Sydney doubled their lead. A telegraphed pass was read well by Hawkesby. She played the ball to Siemsen just inside the area and in a repeat of Princess Ibini’s wonder goal last season in the same game, Siemsen rifled the ball into the corner of the goal, the ball just dipping at the right time, right in front of us, and the celebrations were big. A giveaway at the other end saw a free header for Henry float harmlessly away from goal, the home side threatening to get back into the game. Sydney were still though in total control, Nat Tobin was immense, Hawkesby was excellent, Cortnee Vine had been a thorn in the Wanderers side and was replaced by Paige Satchell who was full of running. Rachel Lowe came on and bossed the midfield with the busy Taylor Ray, and it was Lowe who got closest to scoring a third, but she couldn’t force a shot or a pass to the well-placed Siemsen for her hat-trick. The final sub of the day was a replacement for Siemsen, and it was 15-year-old Mary Stanic-Floody, who didn’t look out of her depth at all for her short cameo to round off a fabulous team performance.

The players eventually came to the away end to celebrate, the end filling up with Macarthur Bulls fans for the next game. It’s a really nice touch that connects the fans to the players, and there were smiles all round and a lot of love for Cote Rojas from the Chilean members of the sky blue crowd, who signed Chilean flags and posed for photos.

The crowd had grown steadily, and the men were out warming up ready to take the field. Time to bail and head off to a nearby party, and I made sure to cover up the Sydney FC colours to avoid any ill-informed cajoling outside the stadium as I walked against the crowd to escape the scene.

Another superb spectacle – a game where Sydney FC showed their Premiership potential and bossed a relatively weak Wanderers team. If we can attract some more fans to watch the women, if we can get generate more atmosphere, this will be a fantastic day out for everyone. Credit to Michelle for singing her heart out and trying to rev up the watching few; the football on show is first class, we have some exciting players, and surely in our next game against Wellington Phoenix in the double-header this coming weekend, our girls will fill their boots. Get on it. Sydney FC women, going places and we need to get behind them.

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