Match Preview: Newcastle v Wanderers

The Western Sydney Wanderers A-League Women’s side travel to Newcastle looking to recover from a tough result in their last match.

In an eagerly anticipated home match at CommBank Stadium, the Wanderers created a number of good opportunities, but were unable to convert and ultimately punished by a clinical Wellington Phoenix side who went home with a 3-0 victory.

The scoreline didn’t necessarily reflect the closeness of the game, with the likes of Bethany Gordon, Sophie Harding and Holly Caspers going close to scoring, but three second half goals condemned the Wanderers to defeat, leaving them at the wrong end of the table after the opening two rounds of the season.

They now hit the road to face a Newcastle Jets team who won once and lost once far this season.

The first game saw the A-League Women’s first F3 Derby since 2009, where the Jets were able to claim victory thanks to a Melina Ayres goal nine minutes from time in front of a brilliant standalone crowd of 5,735; it was a match that ended in dramatic circumstances as both sides had a player sent off as the games neared its conclusion.

They fell back to earth last week when they fell to a defeat by the same scoreline against the Perth Glory in WA; Susan Phonsongkham’s goal just after the half-time break was all the Glory needed to ground the Jets.

The low-scoring encounters for the side from the Hunter mark a departure from last season, where the side toiled to a 10th placed finish and had by far and away the worst defence in the league, conceding an alarming 53 goals in just 18 games.

The worst of these games included a 6-0 humiliation against Western United, and 5-1 losses to Canberra United and Melbourne City.

Wanderers coach Robbie Hooker will be hoping some of that defensive flakiness returns this weekend, as his side look to claim a first goal of the season, with a frustrating lack of cutting edge in front of goal rearing it’s head once again after being a common theme last season.

The sides split last year’s head-to-head battles with a win apiece for the home team.

Newcastle emerged 4-2 winners in what was the Wanderers first match of the season; goals from Melissa Caceres and Amy Harrison were not enough as the Jets secured just one of four victories for the season.

By the time the return fixture came along, the Wanderers were putting in much improved performances, and at Wanderers Football Park Olivia Price scored the only goal of the game to give the Red & Black an important victory.

The Wanderers ultimately finished three places and five points above their opponents last season, with a significantly stronger defence, though scoring less goals than the Jets.

Converting opportunities will be a clear focus for staff and players alike in training, but with new signings beginning to gel more with the rest of the side, it is hoped the issue will solve itself imminently.

Maliah Morris and Sophie Harding could hold the key to unlocking the Wanderers attack, with the former already showing her dangerous dribbling skills on the wing, whilst the latter has pace to burn which can be useful in any attacking situation.

Captain Amy Harrison and Bethany Gordon in midfield will look to exploit Harding’s skillset on the weekend as the striker goes up against the club she made her A-League Women’s debut for back in 2020.

With the Wander Women also having an away trip against Melbourne City on the horizon, a win against the Jets on the road would be the perfect tonic to kick start their season and boost confidence within a squad that has shown patches of quality in their opening two games of the season.