Sensational Connors double shocks Western United

Brisbane Roar 2-0 Western United (11/03/22)

By Ben Carey

Above: Shea Connors celebrates after scoring her second goal to seal the win for the Roar. Photo: Brisbane Roar.

Brisbane Roar pulled off an exciting upset win over league leaders, Western United, on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Perry Park.

The Roar were desperate for the three points – the only option to keep their finals hopes alive. Western were also eager for a win to cement their place at the top with Sydney FC nipping at their heels.

The match started out quite passive, with both teams testing the waters a little, but not committing too much to building attacks. Western United had the first big chance of the match, following a defensive mistake by the Roar, which gave possession to Hannah Keane within shooting distance. She got a little too excited and took the shot too early though. It forced a good save from the Roar goalkeeper, Hensley Hancuff, but it wasn’t a clean save, as it spilled onto the ground and had to be cleared by Jamilla Rankin.

Just before the 20-minute mark, Katrina Gorry played a magnificent long ball from about 30 yards behind the halfway line all the way up to Shea Connors, who had timed her run to perfection.

Connors used her pace to beat the Western defenders to the ball and took a sensational first-time shot at the goal, stunning Hilary Beall who was off her line, and curling it into the side netting in the top right corner. It was Connors’ fourth goal of the season, and it could not have come at a better time for the Roar.

Brisbane Roar had plenty more opportunities in the rest of the first half, thanks to good build-up play and also sub-par defending from Western, however, the Roar couldn’t convert on any of those opportunities. On the flip side, when Western had spells of good possession they found themselves unable to break down the solid Roar defence so they resorted to taking very ambitious long shots at the Brisbane goals, much to the delight of Hancuff.

The home side started the second half playing confidently, maintaining possession, and patiently building their attacks on the visitors’ goal. Western had a few good chances on the counter as well. Just after the hour mark, Angie Beard made a great run into the box and crossed it in for Keane who had an opportunity to slot it into the open net but mistimed her run.

The Brisbane Roar defence was definitely not as compact or organised in the second half, often exposing themselves to danger, which an in-form Western United would probably have punished them for. But, after suffering a heavy defeat to Sydney FC last weekend, Western looked far from their best, and could not convert on any of their chances.

A couple of minutes into stoppage time, Connors struck again, keen to continue riding the high of her first goal an hour before. Tamar Levin assisted her with an excellent, well-measured pass past the defensive line that set Connors up beautifully. Connors kept the ball close to her feet and tucked it past Beall with precision and pace to the bottom right corner of the goal.  

All round it was a fantastic win for Brisbane. They managed to exact the perfect revenge, beating Western United 2-0, the same scoreline they were beaten by the last time the two sides met in January. It will still be difficult from here, but this win keeps their finals hopes alive.

Shea Connors produced her best performance of the season, scoring two goals, twice getting the better of the two-time A-League Women’s player of the month, Beall. Connors’ high-energy football, pace, and intent to win the ball and shoot at goals paid off big time today.

Gorry was magnificent in the midfield as always. Not only did she have an assist to her name and create several more goalscoring opportunities up front, but she was also frequently tracking back to produce some world-class defending as well.

She blocked two shots from going in and made two vital interceptions in the box, which was more than the entire defensive line combined. Of course, that’s not the only measure of a good defence, but it shows how involved Gorry was all over the pitch. Finally, Hancuff made some fantastic saves to keep the Roar in the match and prevent any potential momentum swings.

On the other side of the pitch, Western United put in a sub-par performance by comparison to their lofty standards. Their defence was a little too disorganised and sometimes slow to react to the changing dynamics of the match.

There was also a real lack of aggression from Mark Torcaso’s side. They looked like a completely different team to the giant slayers of the first half of the season. To be fair, Keane found herself in dangerous positions a few times but this didn’t result in goals. This was due to either not having anyone else from Western up to support her attacks, not receiving the ball she needed to score a goal, or just being a bit off on the day and lacking her usual finishing touch.

Brisbane Roar play Western Sydney Wanders next Sunday and Western United will have a week to regroup before facing Canberra United on Saturday March 25th.

Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-4-2): Hancuff, McQueen, Lind, Rankin, Freier, Stephenson, Norrie, Gorry, Riley, Crummer, Connors. Substitutes: Shuttleworth, Rasschaert, Levin, Kramer, Palmer.

Scorers: Connors 18’, 90+2’.

WESTERN UNITED (4-2-3-1): Beall, Beard, Cummings, Cerne, Sardo, A. Taranto, Sawicki, M. Taranto, Vlajnic, Keane, Robers. Substitutes: Dall’Oste, Dakic, Jaber, Steer, Sinclair.

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello

Attendance: 751.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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