Wellington Phoenix 1-1 Western Sydney Wanderers
by Ryan Miller-Woods (2/1/23)
Above: Wellington Phoenix celebrate home town hero Michaela Robertson’s goal that put them ahead. Photo: A-League Women.
Wellington Phoenix and Western Sydney Wanderers shared the points in a tight match that could have either way thanks to goals by Michaela Robertson and Sheridan Gallagher.
Wellington had the best of it early on. An inception by Grace Wisnewski saw her find debutant Milly Clegg whose shot just went wide for a Western Sydney goal kick.
Clegg had another chance when, via a free kick by Saskia Vosper, her effort was blocked out by Clare Hunt for a corner. Michaela Foster’s flag kick curled towards Alexia Apostolakis and forced Jordyn Bloomer to somehow prevent a goal from being scored on the line as she pushed the ball away for another corner.
Western Sydney Wanderers came close in the 13th minute when Marisa Van der Meer’s backpass to Brianna Edwards was pounced on by former Nix player Cushla Rue who got in a first-time shot at goal in the box which went just went wide of the post.
Wanderers used this as the starting point for a flurry of opportunities. A beautiful through ball by Hunt in the 18th minute found Sheridan Gallagher, but after pushing Van der Meer to the ground found Rue, but a poor first touch of the ball allowed the Wellington defence to clear the ball away.
In the 38th minute, Bethany Gordon’s superb effort from outside the box that forced Nix keeper Edwards into an amazing save to put the ball over the bar.
Within three minutes the game’s opening goal was scored. The home side earned a corner which was guided in by Foster. Bloomer tried to punch the ball clear, but only managed to push it up into the air to Wisnewski whose header hit the bar and fell for Wellington-born Michaela Robertson to hit first time into the net.
Western Sydney was able to equalise in the second half in the 60th minute thanks to a great sequence of play by Malia Steinmetz who passed the ball forward to Amy Harrison who then fed a crucial through ball into the box that found the feet of Gallagher with her first-time shot going under Edwards and into the back of the net.
There was one final chance that went the way of the visitors five minutes into stoppage time. Harding crossed the ball into the box, it was headed away initially before falling into the path of Gordon whose powerful shot at goal was brilliantly saved by Edwards.
The result sees both Wellington and Western Sydney claim their first point of the season – but ultimately it is an outcome that advances neither of their causes as the pair remain rooted to the bottom of the ladder.
Wellington Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence had mixed feelings after the match when she spoke to the media. “I think we did enough to win it. We had more shots, we had more crosses and we had more entries into the penalty box.
“I don’t think anyone would have had any complaints if we did win it, but I’m more happy that we didn’t lose. Getting a point helps us build. We wanted to start the new year continuing to build and more points will come.”
She was left to rue missed opportunities. “It’s going to have to be something we continue to work on and get more clinical and a bit more composed. I think we get into those moments and lash out at the ball or lose our instincts a little bit and that probably happens when you’re not scoring heaps of goals.”
But Lawrence was proud how her side responded to Wanderers’ equaliser. “When I look at that second half and especially us pushing and pushing and pushing it shows the heart of the team. We’ve lost games but we’re not just happy with a point, we want to go for the win. That’s something we’re going to try and build on.”
Teams: WELLINGTON PHOENIX (4-2-3-1): Edwards, Foster, Barry, Van der Meer, Vosper, Wisnewski, Hassett, Knott, Robertson, Clegg, Pritchard. Substitutes: Candy, McMeeken, Cicco, Walker, Lancaster.
Scorers: Robertson 41’.
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (3-3-4): Bloomer, Matos, Keir, Hunt, Apostolakis, Steinmetz, Harrison, Gordon, Rue, Harding, Gallagher. Substitutes: Price, Chlastakova, Abdul Massih, Caspers, Khamis.
Scorers: Gallagher 60’
Referee: Anna-Marie Keighley.