The biggest match in the Westfield W-League lived up to expectations as a record crowd of 3,084 were on hand at Marconi Stadium to watch the Sydney Derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.
Both sets of supporters were in full voice with the Red & Black Bloc and Cove attempting to out-sing each other; a battle that was replicated on the pitch.
True to form the Derby was a collection of hard hits, on field tension and controversial decisions and it was the home team who started brightest when Keelin Winters, surely the best player in the league right now, set-up Hannah Beard who looked like scoring until former Wanderer Alesha Clifford’s last ditch tackle denied the American.
It was an ominous sign for the Sky Blue who had to repel attack after attack but got the ultimate reward when Jasmyne Spencer followed up her long-range shot, which was initially saved by Khamis, to hit the rebound past the diving keeper.
Having been an even battle up to that point, neither side dropped their intensity and it didn’t take long for the Wanderers to try to hit back as Jessica Seaman’s goal bound shot was deflected wide for a corner.
It was Western Sydney, and Helen Petinos in particular, who began the second half full of running. Whatever it was that coach Norm Boardman said at half time was proving effective as the Red & Black forced Sydney FC deep into their own territory with wave after wave of attack.
Petinos came the closest with a curling shot that floated just wide of the far post but there was an air of confidence amongst the home crowd who felt that a goal was just around the corner.
It should have come too just a minute later as Sydney FC’s keeper Casey Dumont rushed out of her goal and, running straight through Petinos, absolutely flattened the pacey striker in the box. The expected penalty though did not come as the referee waved play-on to the shock of those on the pitch and in the stands.
It was to prove a costly decision for the Wanderers as Sydney FC went straight up the pitch for Amy Harrison to score Sydney’s second after some lovely passing interplay with her teammates.
It was a cruel blow to the Wanderers who had taken the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half though while it was against the run of play there could be no arguments as to the aesthetic qualities of the Sky Blue’s build-up.
Following the send-off of the Linda O’Neill for a second bookable offence shortly after, the Wanderers looked rattled for the first time all match as the final ten minutes turned into a midfield stalemate with no real scoring chances of note.
The Wanderers now look to next week’s match against Perth Glory after having to play the top three teams in the first three rounds.
Tickets are available now on Ticketmaster with kick-off at 3pm on Sunday 5 October.
Sydney FC 2 (Jasmyne Spencer, Amy Harrison)
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Western Sydney Wanderers: 20. Sham KHAMIS (GK), 2. Caitlin COOPER (C), 3. Jessica SEAMAN, 5. Helen PETINOS (6. Rachael SOUTAR 89’), 7. Kendall JOHNSON, 9. Keelin WINTERS, 10. Michelle CARNEY, 12. Hannah BEARD (18. Tia GAVIN 75’), 14. Demi KOULIZAKIS (11. Lorena BUGDEN 65’), 16. Linda O’NEILL, 22. Victoria GUZMAN
Referee: Kirralee Andruschak
Assistants: Sarah Ho & Liz Shorter