Western Sydney Wanderers 2-3 Wellington Phoenix
Above: Joy unconfined for Wellington Phoenix. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.
By Ben Gilby (2/3/22)
Wellington Phoenix claimed their second A-League Women victory of the season at Western Sydney Wanderers. Gemma Lewis’ side are now only bottom on goal difference.
Once more, the New Zealanders had to do it the hard way by coming from behind as Wanderers took the lead after just two minutes. Erica Halloway’s run down the right ended with her crossing the ball in which was met by the head of Ashlee Crofts for her third goal of the season.
Western Sydney threatened again as Zoe McMeeken was dispossessed by Teigan Collister who found Crofts on the edge of the box. Her effort was charged down and fell into the path of Libby Copus-Brown who followed up with a shot which was held at the second attempt by Nix keeper Lily Alfeld.
It wasn’t all one way traffic though, Wellington’s teenage star Alyssa Whinham turned a vicious effort goal wards which just bounced wide of Willacy’s right hand post.
The visitors had better luck eight minutes before the break. A free-kick on the left was initially cleared by the Wanderers, but Wellington recycled and Isabel Gomez lifted a ball into the box which fell perfectly into the path of Kate Taylor. Free of the attentions of Teigen Allen, the Phoenix vice captain controlled the ball around Western Sydney keeper Sarah Langman and tapped home the equalizer – her first ever A-League Women’s goal in her club’s penultimate match of the season.
Wanderers looked to hit back when Galic gained possession with a sliding tackle which found Copus-Brown who fired a cross shot towards Crofts from the right, but there was too much zip on the effort which went wide of Alfeld’s far post. It remained 1-1 at the break.
Phoenix hit the front with 15 minutes remaining with a goal of quality. Saskia Vosper ran along the right and lifted a pass into Ava Pritchard. Langman rushed out towards her and there was no-one at home in the Wanderers defence which gave the teenager all the confidence in the world to hit a shot over the home custodian and into the far corner of an empty net.
The New Zealanders continued to press. With Wanderers missing in action at the back, Grace Jale played a low angled pass into the stride of Kelli Brown. The forward dawdled which allowed Western Sydney to get numbers back, but Brown managed to twist and turn before lifting a shot which bounced up off of the top of the cross bar and behind.
The game was ultimately decided three minutes into stoppage time. Wanderers were trying to force an equalizer as Alexia Apostolakis took up possession in the centre of the field and played in Halloway outside her, but her cross went straight to the Phoenix defence who cleared with ease. Charlotte Lancaster was found down the left hand touchline and played a ball forward. Apostolakis looked to have all the time in the world to play the ball back to Langman, but Jale was able to get in ahead and lay the ball home for Wellington’s third.
Wanderers needed a quick response and almost instantly, Galic lifted a high shot in from outside of the box. Alfeld tried to hold but the wet conditions caused the Football Fern to drop the ball over the by-line for a corner.
The resulting flag kick came in high from the right and bounced awkwardly off of Talitha Kramer in the six yard box with the ball agonizingly ending up in the net.
Any hope Wanderers had of levelling the scores died a death with the final whistle sounding immediately after the re-start.
Wellington’s greatly improved performances and consistent levels has been rewarded with a second win of the campaign. They are now only bottom on goal difference and many will feel that they deserve to avoid the wooden spoon.
Speaking to the media, Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis said: “It was good to finally get the game underway to be honest. There were a lot of postponements and a lot of things changing.
“It took us a bit to warm into the game and we probably conceded the last goal because we were pushing for another one for goal difference,” Lewis said.
“That just shows how hungry the girls are to want to try to get off the bottom of the table that even when they’re 3-1 up straight away they were saying ‘let’s get another one, let’s get the three goal difference to try and take us off the bottom’.
“The positive mentality from them is quite cool to see.”
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (4-4-2): Langman, Matos, Apostolakis, Cooper, Allen, Halloway, Price, Galic, Collister, Crofts, Copus-Brown. Substitutes: Massih, Galea, Khamis (GK), Ralston, Steinmetz.
Scorers: Crofts 2′, Kramer (OG) 90+5′.
WELLINGTON PHOENIX (4-5-1): Alfeld, Kramer, Taylor, Barry, McMeeken, Jale, Jones, Gomez, Whinham, Knott. Substitutes: Brown, Edwards (GK), Lancaster, Vosper, Walker.
Scorers: Taylor 37′, Pritchard 74′, Jale 90+3′.
Referee: Kelly Jones.