Wander Women end season with defeat in Wellington

Western Sydney Wanderers will have to wait until Sunday to discover if they will feature in the Liberty A-League Finals Series following a shock 2-0 defeat away to Wellington Phoenix.

The Wanderers had the chance to secure their top-six berth on Saturday but Wellington had other ideas as Emma Main’s career-first brace ensured the Phoenix ended the 2023-24 campaign on a winning note.

Western Sydney are sixth and clinging to a spot in the Finals Series, with the Wanderers, fifth-placed Newcastle Jets and seventh-placed Melbourne Victory locked on 33 points.

Victory face Big Blue rivals and league-leading Sydney FC on Sunday. A point or a win in their regular-season finale would see Victory sensationally leapfrog the Wanderers into the top six.

If defending champions Sydney conquer Victory, they will not only seal the Premier’s Plate, but guarantee Western Sydney’s place in the finals as the Wanderers have won more games then their Melbourne rivals.

The Wanderers headed to Porirua Park looking to cement their finals berth on Saturday, but the struggled from the opening whistle.

Wellington out-possessed Western Sydney, with their attacking intent causing plenty of problems and it almost led to a goal in the 15th minute.

The Wanderers almost gifted Wellington the opener as they tried to play the ball out but it went straight to Alyssa Whinham, who – fortunately for the visitors – flashed her shot just wide of the post.

Wellington, though, did break the deadlock three minutes later.

After going down moments earlier with an apparent injury, Manaia Elliot got back to her feet and delivered the cross for Main to head into the back of the net before requiring treatment.

It was a tough 45 minutes for the Wanderers, with Matildas forward Sophie Harding often isolated up front.

There was a great chance for the Wanderers to restore parity seven minutes into the second half after getting in behind Wellington’s defence, but Cushla Rue’s effort was straight at Rylee Foster.

Just as Western Sydney were gaining some momentum, the Phoenix went up the other end and doubled their lead three minutes later.

Main got on the scoresheet again in a moment to forget for Wanderers goalkeeper Sham Khamis, whose routine save ended up in the back of the net. It took her season tally to five goas.

Western Sydney did continue to push numbers forward in the hope of sparking an incredible comeback away from home but they could not breach Wellington’s defence.

Aimee Feinberg-Danieli came off the bench to make her Liberty A-League debut for the Phoenix, replacing Foster, and she pushed an Amy Harrison free-kick onto the crossbar three minutes from the end.