Match Preview: Wanderers v City

Match Preview: Wanderers v City

The Western Sydney Wanderers A-League Women’s side face their biggest test of the season so far as they take on table topping Melbourne City in the A-League’s ‘Unite Round’ this Sunday.

You can get your tickets to the fixture here.

It would be a daunting task for some teams, especially considering City sit six points clear at the top of the table, and have already defeated Western Sydney this season, but the Wanderers have reason to be confident thanks to eye-catching performances and wins in their last two games.

The first came against the Melbourne Victory in the last game of 2023, as goals from Amy Harrison and Alexia Apostolakis secured the Wanderers second ever win against the Victory, before they produced a dominant performance on the road to defeat Perth Glory 2-0.

It was also a night where records were broken, as Sophie Harding surpassed Kristen Hamilton’s tally of seven goals in a season with a brace that took her to eight goals in the season.

The goals were both of the highest quality, with the first being a spectacular first-time long-range effort that looped over Morgan Aquino and in after 24 minutes, and she secured the victory midway through the second half after the Wanderers broke forward on the counter attack.

Receiving a pass from Danika Matos, Harding successfully dodged the challenge of retreating defender Jessika Cowart, and hit a fierce shot past Aquino and into the Glory net.

It was the fourth clean sheet of the season for the Wanderers, and the second in a row for goalkeeper Kaylie Collins; she was less busy in this match as the Wanderers had 25 shots to Perth’s eight, but she was still reliable when called upon.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – DECEMBER 23: Kaylie Anne Collins of the Wanderers catches the ball during the A-League Women round nine match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United at Wanderers Football Park, on December 23, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Maliah Morris, Holly Caspers and Cushla Rue were all impressive going forward as well, creating huge problems for a Perth defence that had previously only conceded 10 goals in the season.

But much of the headlines are going to recordbreaker Harding, who has scored a remarkable eight goals in her last seven games, including three braces; she is playing with supreme confidence and belief, and she will not be daunted by going up against a side she has already scored twice against this season.

Despite Harding’s personal success against City back in their November clash, the Wanderers did fall to a 4-3 defeat at AAMI Park.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 21: Melissa Barbieri of Melbourne City makes a save against Sophie Harding of the Wanderers during the round 11 A-League Women’s match between Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers at Casey Fields, on January 21, 2023, in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

City ran out to a 2-0 lead before Harding made in 2-1 just before half-time; another pair of quick city goals saw them lead 4-1 just after the hour and the Wanderers looked to be on the end of a heavy defeat, before a goal from defender Vicky Bruce and Harding’s second meant it would be a dramatic end to the clash, though City would ultimately hold on for the win.

It was one of eight victories for Dario Vidosic’s team this season, with their only defeat coming at home against Perth at the start of December.

They have won their last three games, including a tight Melbourne Derby win, and two wins where they scored five goals; winning 5-3 at home against Brisbane before demolishing Adelaide 5-0 in their last match.

Daniela Galic put on a clinic in Adelaide, scoring three first-half goals to set City on their way, with Kaitlyn Torpey and Hannah Wilkinson also getting on the scoresheet.

The Wanderers actually defeated Melbourne City when they last hosted them at the same time last year, with goals from Sheridan Gallagher and current midfielder Olivia Price securing a first victory of the season for the Wanderers.

How the times have changed, the side currently sit in ninth and the finals places, and another win over their high-flying opponents could see them jump into the top four should other results go their way.