Brisbane Roar edge Wanderers in tight encounter

Brisbane Roar 1-0 Western Sydney Wanderers

By Ben Carey (17/12/22)

Above: Brisbane Roar huddle to celebrate a goal by Hollie Palmer. Photo: Brisbane Roar/Getty Images

Brisbane Roar won a tight match on Sunday afternoon against Western Sydney Wanderers. It was a warm, overcast day at A.J Kelly Park, the home of the Brisbane Roar until renovations are finished on Perry Park early next year. There was a sea of orange shirts in the stands and the atmosphere was fun and excited.

Brisbane Roar got off to a quick start, scoring a goal in the first 10 minutes. Swedish defender Kajsa Lind hit a wonderful through ball all the way from the backline up to Larissa Crummer who was pressing high. American Jordyn Bloomer made a solid point blank save, but Hollie Palmer was there for the follow up and tucked the ball away to give Brisbane Roar a vital early lead.

Brisbane Roar didn’t sit back and defend after their early goal, they stayed on the attack. Katrina Gorry, back from a well-deserved four-week break, forced a saved from the keeper about five minutes later.

Western Sydney Wanderers eventually played their way into the match, with Holly Caspers and Sophie Harding linking up for a few attempts on the Brisbane goal. The Wanderers’ most spectacular chance of the half came in the 33rd minute from an amazing through ball from Clare Hunt in the backline up to Malia Steinmetz, who took a shot at goals, but missed high.

The second half was a very even contest. There was a lot of passion on the field with fouls behind handed out left, right, and centre, and a few yellow cards for good measure too. And several attempts on goals as well from both sides.

Brisbane Roar’s best chance in the second half came from good high cross from the ever-present Palmer that set up a header from Jessie Rasschaert towards the bottom right corner. But Bloomer was equal to it.

The Wanderers had several attempts on goal. Three of which came from 55-cap Czech international substitute, Jitka Chlastáková – another example of the international talent on display in the A-League Women’s.

When Brisbane Roar captain, Ayesha Norrie, came off after a full 90 minutes, she was met by a huge applause from the crowd who were celebrating her 50th game for the Roar. Since her debut in November 2013, she has become an essential part of the team and one half of the dynamic midfield duo that is Norrie and Gorry.

The Roar were able to cling onto their slim lead despite a nervy final 20 minutes, including almost 10 minutes of stoppage time.

Palmer proved to be the difference maker in the match. But it wasn’t just the goal she scored, she was full of energy and intent for the whole 90 minutes and created a lot of opportunities. And although Gorry only played the first half, she was also outstanding. It doesn’t matter if she’s playing for Vittsjö in Sweden, the Matildas, or for the Roar, her constant physicality, energy, and intent to win the ball and take shots at goal make her an absolute menace in the midfield.

The entire Roar backline put in a great shift as well, particularly Lind, Rasschaert, and Levin. This will please Roar coach Garrath McPherson as the Roar defence has been a puzzle he has been trying to solve since Clare Polkinghorne departed two years ago.

Clare Hunt had a solid game, taking a few shots herself, and creating several more opportunities for her teammates, all while commanding the backline and preventing attacks from the Roar. The Wanderers midfield also put in a good shift, but no one on the front line had the finesse or firepower to beat Hensley Hancuff, who had a great day between the sticks, securing her first clean sheet for the campaign.

Next week Brisbane Roar play Newcastle Jets again after a tight opening round win. Western Sydney Wanderers will take on Sydney FC once more, after a narrow loss at the start of this month.

Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-3-3): Hancuff, Levin, Rasschaert, Lind, Thompson, Norrie, Gorry, Kruger, Connors, Crummer, Palmer. Substitutes: Bailey, McQueen, Robinne, Hecher, Beaumont.

SYDNEY FC (3-4-3): Bloomer, Keir, Hunt, Apostolakis, Matos, Price, Steinmetz, Gordon, Harding, Harrison, Caspers. Substitutes: Khamis, Hristodoulou, Chessari, Chlastáková, Gallagher.

Scorers: Palmer 9’.

Referee: Rebecca Mackie.

Attendance: 877.

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