McNamara sparks City past Wanderers

Holly McNamara has returned from Matildas duty to spark Melbourne City to a 2-1 win over Western Sydney and keep them firmly in the A-League Women top two.

Four days after arriving back in Melbourne from India and being cleared of a knee injury, McNamara started, scored one goal and played a key role in another at AAMI Park.

The workmanlike effort ensured City stayed just four points behind leaders Sydney FC and three clear of Adelaide United.

Sunday also marked 24 years and 364 days since City goalkeeper and former Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri made her Women’s NSL debut.

The 41-year-old was called into action in the eighth minute when Winonah Heatley’s poor backpass caused a mix-up between Emma Checker and the goalkeeper.

Barbieri claimed the ball just before Libby Copus-Brown could get to it, with the pair colliding heavily.

City took the lead in the 28th minute when McNamara sent in a cross from out wide that went over the head of Hannah Wilkinson, before Pollicina drifted behind the striker to tap home.

Nine minutes later, Pollicina broke through midfield and slipped a through ball towards McNamara, who hustled past Caitlin Cooper but put her shot wide.

City had the ball in the back of the net in the 43rd minute when a breaking McNamara slipped the ball to Kaitlyn Torpey to score but it was ruled offside

Two minutes later, McNamara doubled City’s lead, playing a one-two with Leah Davidson then twisting and turning before ripping a wonderful strike.

The Wanderers pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time after City’s defence failed to clear the ball.

Bryleeh Henry was strong back-to-goal, working a pass back to Teigan Collister, who skidded a shot into the bottom corner.

It was just Western Sydney’s third goal in 10 games and only their second from open play.

Wanderers goalkeeper Sarah Langman made an acrobatic save to deny Wilkinson in the 75th minute and Pollicina two minutes later but Western Sydney were unable to snare an equaliser.