Harding’s heroics fire Wanderers closer to Finals as striker’s wonder goal seals huge win

An outrageous goal from Sophie Harding fired Western Sydney one step closer to securing finals football as the Wanderers defeated Perth Glory 1-0 to lock up sixth spot on the Liberty A-League ladder.

Harding’s moment of magic occurred less than 10 minutes into the second half as the Matildas hopeful controlled a long ball before then dispatching a stunning strike over the head of Perth goalkeeper Morgan Aquino and into the back of the net to secure the victory.

Despite having plenty of possession and making over 500 passes in the match the away side barely tested Wanderers goalkeeper Sham Khamis and as a result of the loss at Wanderers Football Park can now no longer qualify for this year’s finals series.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 16: Sophie Harding of the Wanderers after scores a goal under pressure from Elizabeth Anton of the Glory during the A-League Women round 20 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory at Wanderers Football Park, on March 16, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

With chances at a premium in the first half both sides came flying out of the blocks after the interval. Glory midfielder Susan Phonsongkham saw her shot from inside the box deflected narrowly past the post thanks to a last-ditch defensive effort from Wanderers defender Vicky Bruce.

The home side then took the lead in spectacular fashion in the 53rd minute and it was the fit-again Harding who rifled them in front.

Spotting the forward run of Harding, Danika Matos whipped a ball into the path of the striker, who nearly cushioned the ball down before thumping a long range effort over Perth keeper Morgan Aquino and into the back of the net, sending the home fans wild with joy.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 16: Danika Matos of the Wanderers shoots during the A-League Women round 20 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory at Wanderers Football Park, on March 16, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Harding then had a good chance to double the lead in the 71st minute but couldn’t steer her header towards goal after she was picked out inside the box by Buchanan.

Now really pushing for a second to kill of the visitors, Matos flew down the right hand side and whipped a good ball into the box however substitute Maliah Morris couldn’t supply the finish.

Late efforts from Grace Jale and Isobel Dalton barely threatened the Wanderers keeper Sham Khamis as Robbie Hooker’s side held on to a valuable win which pushes them six points clear of Newcastle Jets on the ladder.