Cornthwaite’s Corner: The women’s game needs some critical analysis

While the international break put a halt to the Isuzu UTE A-League men’s, the Liberty A-League women’s competition took centre stage.

On Sunday afternoon, I ventured out to Marden to watch Adelaide United’s women take on Sydney FC, and while the result wasn’t the one most of the family-friendly crowd was hoping for, there was still plenty of entertainment to keep the kids busy.

I took my five-year-old son to the match, and while shade was at a premium ahead of the 1:30 p.m. kick-off, I think most people who wanted it, found a bit of respite from the peak time rays.

I have to say he thoroughly enjoyed the game, and I think that’s the beauty of the women’s football. Often, regardless of the result, everyone has a good experience.

There was free face painting, but I would love to see maybe one or two more activations to keep the young ones occupied pre-game or if they need a break from the action. I know it’s not always possible, but the McDonald’s activations we see at Coopers are great, and something on a smaller scale would do well. Even a small dance party would suffice.

In my opinion, the women’s game needs some evolution in the way we apply critical analysis to the Liberty A-League, and while I watch most, if not all, Reds games, I still feel guilty about glossing over the performances and focusing on the overall experience.

That said, I thought the side really lacked confidence and maybe belief. It’s been a difficult start to the season, and while the showings against Canberra and Perth are encouraging, there’s far too big a gap from week to week. The margin between your best and worst football needs to be narrower, and like any sport, consistency is the key.

Adelaide had a few bright moments in the first half, but most concerningly for me, they looked despondent as soon as the Sky Blues opened the scoring. The first two goals were way too easy, and United was lucky not to be more behind.

The players looked like they felt sorry for themselves, and there was very little reaction from anyone after the opening goal. It had the air of ‘here we go again’.

While Adrian Stenta is the coach and can have an impact on personnel and tactics, ultimately, it’s the players’ responsibility to deliver and so far this season, particularly defensively, they haven’t.

I must say there was a great reaction after half-time, and United dominated nearly all of the second half. Let’s hope they carry that 45 into this week’s clash with Brisbane on Sunday.

Fingers crossed Chelsea Dawber can play; she’ll add a lot of firepower to Adelaide’s front line. That said, it’ll be interesting to see where she fits in and how Adrian changes things around to accommodate her. After all, the front three have been the best performers this season.

Not all is lost; there are plenty of games still to play, but if the Reds want to do anything this season, they need to win this week, if only for confidence.

Let’s hope they silence the Roar.

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