Western Sydney Wanderers 0-1 Sydney FC
by Ben Gilby (3/12/22)
Above: Sydney FC celebrate Remy Siemsen’s winner. Photo: Sydney FC.
Remy Siemsen’s winner for the Sky Blues with eight minutes remaining was enough to settle the Sydney derby at an atmospheric Marconi Stadium.
The win came despite the visitors playing for 46 minutes with only 10 players after Nat Tobin was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for being adjudged to have handled the ball, and with a very well-organised Wanderers giving a strong account of themselves.
Both sides went into the game on the back of differing results with Western Sydney going down to Newcastle Jets last time and Sydney FC having had a confidence-boosting success over Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final rematch.
Wanderers’ former Sydney defender Angelique Hristodoulou was making her 50th A-League Women appearance, and needed to be at her best with the visitors forcing a corner in the opening minute.
It was a typically physical and rumbustious opening to a game between these sides with any hope of flowing action interrupted by regular concessions of free-kicks.
Western Sydney had the first real chance with 13 minutes on the clock with Amy Harrison threading a pass through to Sophie Harding to the left of centre outside the box. The former Newcastle Jet advanced before unleashing a shot that went narrowly wide of the right-hand post. Harding was proving to be a handful along the right, but decisive shots on target were proving to be few and far between.
The home side were working exceptionally hard to deny Sydney any time on the ball. Lauren Keir refused to give Mackenzie Hawkesby any space to develop and forced her to drop deeper to gain possession.
Whilst the Wanderers were managing Sydney’s front four, it was the Sky Blues’ 17-year-old Shay Hollman who was outstanding working the transitions, spraying passes through, and showing physicality and vision beyond her years.
Just prior to the half-hour mark, the Sky Blues finally got a break and sprung Wanderers’ tight defence. Madison Haley received the ball with her back to goal in the ‘D’ and got away from the close attentions of both Hristodoulou and Harding, turned, and got shot away which Jordyn Bloomer pushed out for a corner.
As the half entered its final period, Sydney were dominating the possession and starting to rack up the corners, but the hosts were well-organised and held the Sky Blues at bay.
Then came the red card. With a pass played through, Tobin was just turning to face the action when the ball struck her on the arm. With the defender then looking to win her tussle to clear the danger, referee Casey Reibelt blew and showed the Sydney captain her second yellow.
Whilst deliberate movements of the hand or arm towards the ball are no longer the sole requirements for a card to be deemed necessary, it remained a harsh-looking decision, and one that the Wanderers were out to capitalise on in the second period.
In the wash-up after Tobin’s dismissal, the impressive Hollman was unlucky to be withdrawn to allow for former Perth Glory defender Deborah Ann de la Harpe to provide ballast at the back.
The home side did have the stronger start to the second period, forcing an early corner, and Harding followed up by crossing from the right for Theresa Boade to angle an effort that Jada Whyman dealt with in the Sydney goal. Whyman was also forced to dive bravely at the feed to deny Harding after Boade played her in. On the negative side of the ledger for Wanderers, the threatening Ceceras had to leave the pitch injured.
For all Western Sydney’s momentum and corners forced in the opening quarter of an hour of the half, they could not break the deadlock, and a Sydney side containing the attacking prowess of Hawkesby, Cortnee Vini, Princess Ibini, and Remy Siemsen will always find a way to create a chance, and so it proved with eight minutes remaining.
From Whyman’s throw, Abbey Lemon advanced to find Ibini in midfield. The Australian international advanced to find newly arrived substitute Siemsen outside her, and the Sky Blues returnee from Sweden curled a sensational effort from around 16 yards just outside the right-hand side of the box into the net.
This was a harsh lesson for Wanderers. Like last season at their best, they are strong and well structured at the back, but up front whilst Harding, Boade, and Caceres are full of creativity, there is a lack of sharpness. Sydney FC showed yet that they can win a game at the flick of a switch. That’s the difference between these two sides.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS: Bloomer, Hristodoulou, Hunt, Keir, Matos, Gordon, Steinmetz, Harding, Harrison, Boade, Caceres. Substitutes: Apostolakis, Caspers, Gallagher, Khamis (GK), Price.
SYDNEY FC: Whyman, Rule, Mclean, Tobin, Fenton, Hunter, Hollman, Hawkesby, Vine, Haley, Ibini. Substitutes: de la Harpe, Lemon, Offer (GK), Siemsen, Stanic Floody.
Scorer: Siemsen 82′.
Referee: Casey Reibelt.