Match Preview: Brisbane v Wanderers

The Western Sydney Wanderers A-League Women’s team will look to continue their hot run of form as they travel north to face the Brisbane Roar on Sunday.

The Wander Women will be looking to win three games in a row for the first time since 2019, and will be confident of doing so against a Brisbane side who are winless in their last five games.

The Wanderers in their first home game in over a month put in a performance to remember last Friday as they defeated newcomers Central Coast 3-0, leapfrogging their opponents in the table in the process.

Sophie Harding was once again the star of the show as she continued her hot streak in front of goal as she netted a double, taking her tally to five in her last three games, whilst a tricky Olivia Price cross was turned into her own goal by Mariners defender Taren King.

Harding’s performance earned rave reviews from fans and pundits alike, as she showed great speed and awareness to head home Cushla Rue’s pinpoint delivery in the first-half, before showing her improved finishing ability in the second half to convert from a good pass from Bethany Gordon.

Whilst most praise will go to the likes of Harding and Rue – who has a goal and an assist in her last two games – the defence also deserves much credit for two clean sheets in a row.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 08: Sophie Harding of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal with team mates during the A-League Women round seven match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners at Wanderers Football Park, on December 08, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

The defensive improvement has coincided with a formation change to a 3-5-2, with captain Amy Harrison dropping to centre back alongside Vicky Bruce and Maddy McComasky.

Goalkeeper Sham Khamis also had a fantastic game on Friday, pulling off seven saves that helped the Wanderers to victory, especially in the first half when the Mariners were looking threatening going forward.

The last two games will have pleased coach Robbie Hooker immensely; after joining late in pre-season he has worked hard to implement his vision on the side, and despite showing positive signs the Wanderers initially got little reward for their efforts.

They have clearly turned a corner, having two wins and a draw in their last four matches, and also facing favourable matchups on paper in the next couple of weeks.

Brisbane are certainly not relishing the prospect of facing an in-form Wanderers side as they lick their wounds after a heavy 5-1 defeat to Canberra United.

The season started with such promise for the Queenslanders, as they defeated heavyweights Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC in back-to-back matches.

However, after a 1-1 draw with Central Coast and whilst sitting fourth on the table, Brisbane made the decision to part ways with head coach Gareth McPherson, replacing him with former A-League Men’s player and assistant coach Alex Smith.

The move has so far failed to pay off, with Smith having two losses and a 1-1 draw against cellar dwellers Adelaide United to his name.

Their heavy defeat to Canberra was by far their most disappointing result and performance, with Smith hoping a return home will be able to reignite his side into a fighting force in the league, as they now only sit a place and point above the Wanderers having played a game more.

The goals have also dried up for the Roar, with their seven goals the second lowest in the league this season.

They did taste victory the last time they hosted Western Sydney, as an early goal from Hollie Palmer gave them a 1-0 win.

The Wanderers returned the favour in their final home game of the season as they secured a comfortable 3-2 victory; Bethany Gordon scored a double whilst then-captain Clare Hunt scored her first goal in Red and Black.
A similar result would see the Wanderers overtake their opponents on the table, and if results go their way they could sit in sixth place by the end of the weekend.