Brisbane Roar 0-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
By Kris Goman (9/1/22)
Above: Bryleeh Henry (centre) celebrates with Sheridan Gallagher and Libby Copus-Brown after scoring from the spot. Photo: Western Sydney Wanderers.
We’re at the part of the season where wins are becoming crucial and both Brisbane and the Wanderers are desperately needing a win to have any hope of making the finals.
While the Wanderers have been rock solid in defence, their lack of goals has seen them draw three times but only record one loss. Brisbane on the other hand, have had one win, one draw but three losses, having played one more game than the Wanderers. They’ve certainly scored plenty of goals – ten goals to Wanderers one.
That is most certainly how this match played out. Roar attacking with all they’ve got and Wanderers, stoic in defence, taking their chances when they could. Roar wasted no time getting down to business with two early on target shots on goal by Katrina Gorry and Larissa Crummer, both saved by Sarah Langman.
Bryleeh Henry retaliated with a shot from a headed pass from Caitlin Cooper but it was too high and sailed over the bar.
After a series of fouls and free kicks, Libby Copus-Brown lobbed a ball through the centre to Henry. Her shot goes to the bottom left corner and was saved by Georgie Worth. Roar made a fast break and were back on the attack again. Crummer, Gorry, and Mariel Hecher all have a crack. Crummer and Gorry are close but off-target. Hecher’s shot required another save by Langman.
Clare Hunt is all over the field in both defence and attack and when she sends a ball through for Libby Copus-Brown, it goes across goal and out to the right.
Around the 30-minute mark, both teams step up to launch a wave of attacks. Teigan Collister starts it off with a shot that’s high and wide to the left for the Wanderers. Rie Kitano’s long-range shot from outside the box is blocked.
Back up the other end and Cooper goes high. Then Shea Connors brings the ball down the left and crosses to Hecher in the box in front of goal. She gets the ball under control and slips it through to Gorry arriving on her right. Gorry shoots and Langman has to reach for it. She fumbles and it bounces down perilously close to the line and then bounces off the goal post. She’s able to gather it but Roar are protesting it went in. Would have been a good one to look at with goal-line technology as it was very close.
The next ball through from Gorry finds Connors offside. Henry gets one more attempt but that also goes out to the left of goal.
Just before halftime, Gallagher gets a yellow for a bad foul. She’s quite an aggressive player and doesn’t back down in tackles. She’s had a couple of yellows already this season. The resulting free-kick ends with Connors shooting from the centre of the box. It’s straight to Langman though. And the half end it’s nil all.
Back on after a well-deserved break in the heat and humidity, Connors dribbles down the centre of the field, creates some space, and gets a long shot off that just clears the top bar. Kitano makes an on-target strike which is gathered by Langman. Another attack by Gorry goes left and high of goal.
Gallagher takes a rather good volley shot at the top of the box from Henry but it goes straight to Worth.
Roar are back on the attack with Gorry causing all sorts of problems. She’s back in great form and it’s obvious why she was selected in the Matildas squad despite turning it down this time.Roar are looking more impressive in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
There’s the usual raft of substitutions around the 60-minute mark with Natalie Tathem replacing Kitano for the Roar and Olivia Price coming on for Alexia Apostolakis closely followed by Isabella Habuda replacing Ashlie Crofts for the Wanderers.
Connors sent a ball through for Anna Margraf but Langman ran out of the box and got there first to clear the ball with a big boot.
Habuda brought the ball down the right and skipped around Haffenden before arriving in the box and crossing. She sent the ball behind Henry who was waiting there and Collister had to go back to pick it up. She slipped it to Olivia Price, who evaded two defenders before being tackled and brought down in the box by Hecher. A penalty is awarded.
Henry steps up to take it. She goes hard and heavy to the bottom right and Worth dives that way too but it’s too fast and she can’t reach it. Wanderers score their second goal for the season at the 65-minute mark.
From that point, the Roar step it up another gear and it’s one attack after another.
A ball is through for Crummer into the box but Langman dives and smothers it.
Hecher kicks a long ball across from the right to Connors in the box. Her header goes to the left of goal. A nice little attack by the Roar ends with a strike by Connors but it’s deflected out for a corner.
Connors and Cooper collide and Cooper lands heavily on her shoulder but seems to be OK.
Another attack sees Clough in space and she’s able to pass to Hecher but it’s deflected for a corner. Crummer gets her head to it but it goes high. Another long ball sees Crummer surrounded as she enters the box and Langman is on it once again. The corner results in a pile on in front of goal. A free-kick is awarded to the Wanderers as the Roar are literally on top of the ball.
When Connors finally beats Langman it goes wide across goal. Roar are not giving up but nor are Wanderers. Crummer shoots again but it’s straight to Langman who’s been a brick wall.
When the Wanderers get a corner they go into time-wasting mode – also known as “game management”. It frustrates Brisbane and Connors gets a yellow at 88 minutes for a tackle on Gallagher. There’s more time-wasting in the corner and five minutes of stoppage time is announced.
Connors crosses but Tathem can’t get to it. Connors tries a long shot but it’s straight to Langman. Another nice attack is foiled by Hunt.
Collister and Norrie fighting through the midfield ends in a pushing match and yellow for both of them as frustrations rise.
The whistle goes and Wanderers get their first three points of the season. Defence wins the game and Wanderers back four were solid as a rock. Langman saved the day on more than one occasion.
In the end, possession was pretty even with Roar marginally in front. But when you look at shots and shots on target, Roar are way out in from. 22 shots to 10. Nine shots on target to three. And two saves for Roar to nine saves for the Wanderers. When it mattered, Henry was able to step up. She said after the match that she needed to “Bury it” to get the three points.
Gorry was reflective after the match and said they needed to be clinical in front of goal. She also spoke about turning down the opportunity to join the Matildas for the Asian Cup. She said it was a very hard decision but wants to keep her baby daughter Harper safe and India was just too hard under these current circumstances.
The win sees Wanderers leapfrog Brisbane Roar on the table with a game in hand. Their next game is against third-placed Melbourne Victory and it should be interesting. Victory have had a couple of unexpected results and will be without some of their star players who will be joining the Matildas. Roar will be playing Wellington Phoenix and should be expecting to win.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-3-3): Worth (GK), Margraf, Rasschaert, Rankin, Norrie (c), Hecher, Crummer, Gorry, Connors, Kitano, Haffenden. Substitutes: Stamatopoulos, Tathem, Clough, Shuttleworth, Dennis.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (4-2-3-1): Langman (GK), Matos, Apostolakis, Hunt, Halloway (c), Cooper, Copus-Brown, Henry, Collister, Gallagher, Crofts. Substitutes: Whitton (GK), Ralston, Price, Habuda, Allen.
Scorer: Henry (pen) 65′.
Referee: Lara Lee.