Match Preview: City v Wanderers

The Wander Women are on the road once again, heading interstate for the first time this season to face Melbourne City.

The side can take many positives from their last round clash against the Newcastle Jets, where they were on top for much of the match, but they were cruelly denied a first win of the season thanks to a wonder goal from Jets captain Cassidy Davis in stoppage time.

Centre back Vicky Bruce had earlier put the Wanderers ahead just 11 minutes from time with a brilliant header from a deep free-kick, whilst Cushla Rue and Sophie Harding also had fantastic chances to score for the Wanderers.

Whilst it is bitterly disappointing the side couldn’t come away with all three points after a positive performance, coach Robbie Hooker will be encouraged by the way his side played after two tough opening games ending in defeat.

The team was also boosted by the debut of promising New Zealand forward Milly Clegg, who started up front for the Wanderers and put in a promising shift alongside Maliah Morris.

The game also saw another record broken, as Ischia Brooking became the youngest ever A-League Women’s player at 14 years, 11 months and 13 days, eclipsing the record reached just a week earlier by fellow Wanderer Talia Younis.

Whilst the Wanderers were well on top for much of their clash in the Hunter, they may have to utilise a different gameplan against a Melbourne City side currently second in the league with two wins and a draw to begin their season.

They recorded back-to-back wins over Wellington and Canberra United, but were denied a third win on the bounce after Western United scored an 86th minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

NEWCASTLE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 05: Wanders plaeyers celebrate the goal of Victoria Bruce of the Wanderers during the A-League Women round three match between Newcastle Jets and Western Sydney Wanderers at McDonald Jones Stadium, on November 05, 2023, in Newcastle, Australia. (Photo by Scott Gardiner/Getty Images)

Melbourne are looking to bounce back from what was a disappointing 2022/23 season by their lofty standards; whilst the side finished third on the table, they were 10 points behind the minor premiers and were eventually eliminated on penalties by their crosstown rivals Melbourne Victory in the first week of the finals.

They had a particularly disappointing ending to the season, winning just one of their last eight games as their charge for the minor premiership fell flat.

Led by former A-League Men’s player Dario Vidosic, they were boosted by the signing’s of Rebekah Stott and Canadian goalkeeper Lysianne Proulx, but lost former captain Emma Checker to the Melbourne Victory and New Zealand international Katie Bowen to an overseas move to Italian side Inter Milan.

The sides met twice last season, and it was against Melbourne City that the Wanderers recorded their first win of the season at Wanderers Football Park.

On a warm January afternoon, the unfancied Wanderers scored two goals either side of half-time – one of which was scored by current midfielder Olivia Price – to secure a 2-0 win in what was one of the shock results of the season.

The Wanderers couldn’t repeat the trick in the return fixture in Melbourne, as they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat thanks to a first half goal from star striker Hannah Wilkinson.

The Wanderers’ form on the road is a concern, as the side failed to win an away game last season, but a win against a talented Melbourne City side would be a message that things are changing under new management.

The Red & Black’s performances in their first three matches have been stronger than the final results have suggested, and an away scalp on the road could provide the perfect boost to the Wanderers’ season.