Match Preview: Wanderers v Central Coast

After three weeks on the road, the Wander Women will finally perform in front of their own fans as they take on Central Coast Mariners under the lights on Friday night.

You can get your tickets to the match here.

The side is coming off a huge result just before the international break, as the Wanderers claimed their first win and clean sheet of the season against last season’s Grand Finalists Western United.

It was a tight and tense affair, but Sophie Harding’s speed was too much for goalkeeper Hillary Beall to handle as she nicked the ball off of the American shotstopper and tapped home into an empty net, before Cushla Rue sealed the three points in stoppage time after an incisive counter attack.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 25: Sophie Harding of Western Sydney celebrates a goal with teammates during the A-League Women round six match between Western United and Western Sydney Wanderers at City Vista Recreation Reserve Pitch 1, on November 25, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Jonathan DiMaggio/Getty Images)

It was the team’s first victory on the road since 2022, and it was a win well earned by the players after many signs of promise went mostly unrewarded in their opening four games of the season.

The result lifted the Wanderers off the bottom of the table, leaving them within striking distance of a swarm of teams in the middle of the table, including their opponents this weekend.

It is the first time the two sides are facing off against each other as the Mariners make their return to women’s football; the club featured in the the W-League between 2008-2009, and the newcomers have been quietly impressive in their first five matches, recording two wins and a draw to leave them in sixth place.

The pick of those was a tight 1-0 success against Wellington Phoenix, who are currently in third place, though the Mariners were narrowly defeated in their last match away from home against the Melbourne Victory, where a 91st minute McKenzie Weinert winner denied them a good point on the road.

Led by Emily Husband, the team contains experienced and quality players, including Matildas legend Kyah Simon, exciting youngster Rola Badawiya, and captain Taren King, who scored the team’s first ever goal in their return to the A-League Women.

They also have the equal best defence in the league, and their matches tend to be fairly low scoring, with the Mariners only scoring five and conceding five so far this season.

The Wanderers will be full of confidence though after a win and a draw in their last three games, and there are signs things are starting to come together under new coach Robbie Hooker.

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)

A change to a back three saw of Vicky Bruce, captain Amy Harrison and Maddy McComasky saw the sides defensive performance improve significantly, and Sophie Harding continued her strong form up front, the exciting speedster now has three goals for the season and is showing evidence that she is able to take on the burden of leading the attack after the offseason departure of Sarina Bolden.

The Wanderers’ form at home is highly impressive, where the side only lost three games in front of their own fans last season, and with a run of three home games in their next four matches, Friday’s clash against the new team in town offers the perfect chance to continue their strong momentum and climb up the table, as well as cementing the Wanderers’ home as a fortress for the Red and Black.