Match Preview: Wanderers v Brisbane Roar

Our Wander Women look to continue their record breaking run when they face the Brisbane Roar at Marconi Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

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The Red and Black won a record fourth game in a row on Sunday night in a hard fought 2-1 victory over the Central Coast Mariners away from home, where Holly Caspers’ second goal of the season and an own goal was enough to secure the three points for Robbie Hooker’s side.

At times they were put under a large amount of pressure by the home side, but a resilient defensive performance led by captain Amy Harrison at the back, as well as goalkeeper Kaylie Collins – who pulled off several key saves – helped the Wanderers hold firm.

The win means they consolidated their place in the top four, and also means they have already surpassed last season’s number of wins with 10 games still to play.

It’s a testament to the remarkable turnaround coach Hooker has been able to pull off in a short space of time, with the side losing only one of their last eight games after a tough start to the season.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 14: Holly Caspers of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal with her teammates during the A-League Women round 12 match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City at CommBank Stadium, on January 14, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jeremy Ng/Getty Images)

Despite the hot form of Sophie Harding and Holly Caspers – who have eight goals and seven goals and assists already this season, the foundation for the recent success has been laid in the defence, with the Wanderers only conceding three goals in their last eight games.

This has largely coincided with a formation change to five at the back, with captain Harrison dropping into centre back alongside Vicky Bruce and Maddy McComasky.

Not only has the defence flourished, but exciting youngster Alexia Apostolakis has also excelled in a new role in centre midfield, as she scored in a 2-0 win over the Melbourne Victory and also assisted Caspers’ opening goal against the Mariners with a deft pass that split the defence open.

American import Maliah Morris also had a strong game, only being denied her first goal for the club by the woodwork, and also seeing her cross turned into the net by Mariners defender Jazmin Jackson early in the second half.

The game also shows an improvement of form on the road for the Wanderers, as they have won three and drawn two matches away from home, a remarkable improvement from last season where the side failed to win on the road all season.

Their opponents this weekend have faded badly after a strong start to the season, winning only one of their last eleven games and falling to 10th on the table.

They were able to secure a draw away from home against the Perth Glory, but clearly the change in coach early in the season has not had the desired effect for the Queenslanders, and they risk being cut adrift from the top six and the finals places.

Matilda Tameka Yallop has done her best to inspire the Roar in recent weeks, with a winning goal against Wellington in early January as well as three assists, but she needs support from the rest of the side.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 17: Holly Caspers of Western Sydney controls the ball under pressure from Hollie Palmer of Brisbane during the A-League Women round eight match between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at Perry Park, on December 17, 2023, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Brisbane did manage to hold the Wanderers to a draw when they last met in December at Perry Park in Brisbane, hitting the front after a strong first half thanks to a Mia Corbin goal.

The Wanderers were a completely different side after the break, with Harding equalising in the 50th minute, and the Wanderers dominating the play in the second half and being unlucky not to grab all three points.

The Wanderers could move into second with a victory if results go their way, and would also increase their gap between them and the chasing pack, which is particularly crucial given Western Sydney still have a game in hand on many of the teams above and below them on the table.