Teenage Hunter The Hero For Wanderers

Western Sydney Wanderers 2–2 Adelaide United

Report and EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS from Kris Goman.

Western Sydney Wanderers ended a run of losses after gaining a draw against Adelaide United at Marconi Stadium.

Above: Seventeen year-old Western Sydney Wanderers starlet Sarah Hunter grabbed her first two W-League goals in only her third game. Photo: Kris Goman,

When they say Western Sydney, they really mean Western Sydney. Marconi stadium is a long way from the City of Sydney – forty kilometres from my house in the inner west. This is actually my favorite stadium despite the long drive. There’s plenty of parking, plenty of seating, an old school tuck shop and it’s usually not too crowded which I like. It’s also a stadium that, when there’s not a global pandemic, it’s easy to meet the players afterwards and get autographs and photos. And it’s the Wander Women’s home ground.

Adelaide United are playing in their yellow and red away uniform which makes it look like they work at a multi-national fast food chain. Mac attack coming up. Unusually for a women’s soccer team, most of the South Australian side seem quite tall, with the exception of Rojas. They must have the tallest average of all the teams in the W-League by a long shot.

Wanderers are playing 4-3-1-2 and Adelaide are playing 4-3-3. Wanderers kick off, lose possession immediately and are pushed back. They get possession back and drive forward and eventually Leena Khamis takes a shot from outside the box that goes straight to the keeper. She hasn’t scored this season yet and questions need to be asked about this soon. Wanderers are keeping quite a high line and exerting some early pressure.

In this match, possession it more like ping pong. It’s back and forth, passes are badly directed and it’s usually more than one touch to bring the ball under control. For the W-League to get better, the passing game really needs to improve.

Nikola Orgill sends a cross into the box which is headed by Sarah Hunter over to Khamis. It arrives a bit high for Khamis to control and her aerial kick goes wide to the right.

Above: Leena Khamis strains to reach a header against Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman.

Hunter then passes to Georgia Yeoman-Dale at the top of the box and she dribbles the ball to the left of goal and sends a cross right across the front of goal but there’s no one there to tap it in and an opportunity goes begging.

Adelaide make a couple of forays into the Wanderers half but they result in long shots into Willacy’s arms.

A ball bounces into the box for Yeoman-Dale (Yeo-Da) to take a shot on her left foot but it’s just wide to the right and sails out harmlessly. Looks like she copped an elbow to the nose soon after and it’s bleeding a bit so play stops for that to be attended to.
A long ball from Maria Jose Rojas comes through the centre for Chelsie Dawber to run onto and Adelaide are taking more control. Orgill manages to draw a foul to stop the run. Shortly after, Dawber makes another run into the box that’s foiled by a slide tackle from Caitlin Cooper.

Down the other end, Danika Matos sends a great ball across to Khamis but the header goes well wide to the right of the box. Following up, Yeo-Da gets a free kick from a foul on the right hand side of the box. The ball goes to the far post but Khamis can’t control the header, which admittedly wasn’t in a great position, and it bounces over the goal line.

We’re thirty minutes in and Wanderers look to be the better side with more possession and more chances but Adelaide have looked dangerous on transition.

Speaking of transitions, at thirty-three minutes in, a lob comes in to Dawber from the right and Sarah Willacy is right off her line to meet the oncoming attack. Dawber flicks it up and Willacy gets a hand to it but it’s not enough to deflect the power or direction and the ball hits the back of the net for Adelaide.

Almost immediate after the kick-off, Chloe Middleton gets a shot on goal after a miss-kick by Matilda McNamara but it’s wide to the left.
On another transition play for Adelaide, Dawber sends a long ball from the left to Mallory Weber in the box but Willacy beats her to it and has it safely.

Charlotte Grant kicks off an attack for Adelaide with a nice run and pass into the box that is cleared but goes straight back to Adelaide. Grant gets the ball again on the right of the box and has a little battle with Yeoman-Dale before passing back to Dawber who also manages to avoid Yeo-Da. She crosses a beautiful pass to the feet of Rojas at the top of the box who slips it past Willacy towards the left post. It’s in the net but Rojas is offside so it doesn’t count. I replayed this a few times as the broadcast replay made it look like she wasn’t offside but she definitely was when the ball was kicked so good call. Nice play though.

Above: Charlotte Grant trying to find a way through for Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman.

Another good play by Adelaide sees the ball moving around the box culminating in a header by Weber that skims the top post. Adelaide have stepped it up now.

Three minutes before the break, Yeoman-Dale gets the ball on the right flank. She beats Grant and brings it into the box for the cross. Near the goal line she flicks it back in front of goal. Hunter runs onto it and directs it to the far post and it beats a stretching Sian Fryer-McLaren and Isabel Hodgson’s feet for her first goal in the W-League. She’s obviously got a few friends in the crowd as there’s a lot of excited screaming. We’re level at 1-1 now.

Above: Wanderers celebrate their equalising goal before half-time. Photo: Kris Goman.

From the kick-off, Wanderers are back with possession after Russell, the Irish international, intercepts a poor pass and gets it across to Yeo-Da, centred at the top of the box. She leans back too much and has skied a sitter.

With a minute of stoppage time, the Wanderers get a free kick after Russell is slightly injured in a heavy tackle. The ball goes to the right of the box but is harmlessly out over the goal line in a wasted opportunity before the interval.

Wanderers are applying the pressure early in the second half and Khamis gets a penetrating run down the left but her back pass is squandered. Western Sydney get a free kick just out from the top of the box after a heavy tackle on Khamis by Maruschka Waldus. Adelaide sets up a five person wall. Yeo-Da to take it. It clears the wall but she’s had too many Weetbix this morning and it keeps going over the top bar.

A Wanderers short corner is cleared by Adelaide but on the way down the other half, Dawber gets an elbow from Orgill and is straight down clutching her throat. It will take her a little while to recover from that and it looks very uncomfortable. Surprisingly there’s no foul and play is restarted from a throw in.
Rojas gets a run into the box but is surrounded by three defenders who relieve her of the ball. She’s technically so good but can’t overcome those numbers.

Above: Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United battle it out for possession at a corner. Photo: Kris Goman.

Back at the other end Russell slides a lovely pass to Hunter who’s threatening a second goal but McNamara blocks the shot and it’s out for a corner. Nevin takes it and it’s to the far post but is cleared out of the box. From a throw-in, both Russell and Khamis get a shot but both are blocked and Fryer-McLaren scoops it up. I’d half like to start calling her Fry-Mac but it doesn’t have the same ring to it and it’s just too redolent of the previously mentioned fast food chain. Big Mac might be more appropriate given her height.

Possession is currently 60 – 40 in favour of Western Sydney and it feels that way with Adelaide very dependent on transitions. But it is working for them.

A nice attacking run comes from a clearance from Fryer-McLaren direct to Hunter who turns it around and passes to Russell who sends a lovely ball through to Matos who runs onto it in the box. Her cross is spectacularly blocked by Waldus who stops Khamis from scoring an almost definite goal. Khamis clutches her head in dismay but later jokes about it with Waldus as they line up for the resulting corner.

Hunter takes the corner and it’s perfectly sent to Khamis’ head at the back of the box. The header is on target but straight to Fryer-McLaren’s safe hands.

Weber’s got some fancy footwork as she slips past a couple of Wanderers to bring the ball down the left. She sends it forward to Rojas who crosses in the box but she’s offside again, in what was a threatening run.

Fiona Worts comes on for United and gets employed immediately in a couple of runs down the left before it’s passed across to Grant on the right. There’s some play near the right corner flag before it goes out for an Adelaide corner. Almost everyone is directly in front of a very crowded goal for this. Inexplicably it goes to the back of the box and is headed away by Yeoman-Dale. Georgia Campagnale sends it straight back in. It’s picked up by Waldus. She gets it out wide and a cross then comes in to Dylan Holmes who takes a high strike off her chest and belts it past Willacy to take Adelaide into the lead again.

After the restart, Adelaide could have got a match clinching third when Rojas is through, but Willacy is quick off her line and gets there first and clears it emphatically.

Shortly after, Nevis makes a break down the left and gets a pass to Teigan Collister but she can’t connect and Fryer-McLaren gathers it up.

It’s straight back up the other end and Rojas is causing more mischief before playing to Condon in the box. Her shot goes high.

Wanderers break back immediately and Collister is off down the right hand side. She crosses back to Hunter who is always following up and in the right spot at the right time and she slots it under the arm of Fryer-McLaren as she jumps sideways and it rolls into goal. Grant takes a desperate lunge to try to save it but ends up prone in the goal with a cramp which Fryer-McLaren helps her to stretch out. 2-2 and we’re level again at 78 minutes. The seventeen year-old Hunter grabs the ball out of goal and runs back towards the centre with her celebrating teammates in hot pursuit.

Adelaide are back on the attack with another Rojas crusade. It’s blocked out for a corner by Orgill this time and clearly no one is giving up. The corner comes to nothing at the near post.

Copus-Brown cops a yellow for holding Dawber and bringing her down. The free kick goes over to the right from the left side but eventually it’s out on the sideline for an Adelaide throw in.

A long ball down the middle finds Rojas in a tussle with Orgill. Orgill goes over and Wanderers gets a free kick but it doesn’t really look like it was Rojas’ fault. Cooper comes through to cover and Rojas isn’t happy about it and there’s a bit of pushing and shoving between the two. Love a bit of South American passion.

Above: Libby Copus-Brown tries to get away for Western Sydney Wanderers. Photo: Kris Goman.

The ball goes up to the Wanderers end and there’s a couple of well- connected passes between Copus-Brown and Hunter. The teenager takes another shot, looking for her hat-trick, but it’s not on target this time and sails clear of the goal.

Both teams get a couple more runs into goal including one from Worts with a nice cross that is into empty space followed by a floater from Khamis straight to the keeper.

Rojas gets into the box yet again and passes back to Dawber but her shot is deflected out by Matos for a corner. That play looked genuinely threatening and we’re in the last minutes of a drawn game so the tension is high. Once again, absolutely everybody is in front of goal. This time the ball lands in the middle of the whirlpool. Waldus gets a head to it and it bounces straight up and Galea manages to clear out to the right side-line. Adelaide is applying all the pressure right now and Waldus gets another crack but sends it high over the goal.

Into stoppage time, Collister gets another wonderful cross from the right directly in front of goal but Galea can’t do anything with it under this pressure. Adelaide transition again and Worts is on the left in the clear. She gets it to Dawber who passes back to her at the top of the box. Her shot is just to the right of the post as she tries to curl it, in a pretty close call.

Some sloppy passing by both teams sees two chances squandered before Worts gets it on the right, passes to Campagnale who gets it across to Rojas who is unmarked and onside. She turns and shoots but Willacy has come out, made herself big and deflects the shot in a match saving move. She’s earned her pay today with that save alone. The game ends with extended ping pong in the midfield and we’re drawn two all at full time.

Above: Maria Jose Rojas caught the eye once more for Adelaide United. Photo: Kris Goman,

Hunter is player of the match with her first two W-League goals in just her third game. Apart from the goals, she was very solid in defence and all over the park backing up with ferocity. It’s a good call for this award and well deserved for a young player. I watch afterwards and she’s swamped by her friends from the stands that are understandably excited for her. She’s embarrassed by the attention but is lapping it up.

Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Willacy, Matos, Nevin, Orgill, Cooper, Copus-Brown, Russell, Middleton, Hunter, Yeoman-Dale, Khamis. Substitutes: Newbon (GK), Gomez, Collister, Galea, Henry.

Scorers: Hunter 43, 78.

ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, Grant, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Walder, Campagnale, Holmes, Condon, Rojas, Dawber, Webber. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E. Hodgson, Hogg, Worts.

Scorers: Dawber 33. Holmes 71.

Referee: Rebecca Durcau.

Attendance: 415.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

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