Wanderers snap 20-game drought to celebrate first win of the Liberty A-League season

Western Sydney Wanderers claimed their first win of the Liberty A-League season after upstaging last season’s Grand Finalists Western United 2-0.

Sophie Harding was the hero for the Wanderers, chasing down star Western goalkeeper Hillary Beall to break the deadlock with eight minutes remaining at City Vista Recreation Reserve on Saturday.

Cushla Grace Rue sealed the victory for the Wanderers in the third minute of stoppage time.

The result snapped Western Sydney’s 20-game winless drought away from home in the Liberty A-League, while Western United suffered their third defeat of the season after six rounds.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 25: Cushla Rue of Western Sydney in action 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)

Western United controlled proceedings early on at City Vista, where Western Sydney’s 15-year-old sensation Talia Younis made her starting debut just weeks after breaking Sam Kerr’s record as the youngest ever A-Leagues player.

There were a couple of opportunities for Western’s reigning Golden Boot winner Hannah Keane, while the visiting Wanderers had a couple of chances themselves.

The biggest talking point of the first half, however, was an injury to Kahli Johnson that forced the Western star and Young Matilda from the field in the 33rd minute.

Western Sydney grew into the game in the second half and Harding engineered a decent move early on – the Wanderers forward made a good run into the box and Beall had to produce a fine diving save to deal with the danger.

Western United struggled to create anything clear cut, with Mark Torcaso turning to Avaani Prakash at the expense of Keane late in the contest.

But just as the match was petering out for a draw, Western Sydney’s Harding pounced on a Beall error in the 82nd minute.

Beall – the 2022-23 Goalkeeper of the Year – was too slow to deal with a backpass and Harding chased down the star goalkeeper to put the ball into the back of the net.

As Western United pushed numbers forward in search of an equaliser, space opened up and Western Sydney’s Rue took advantage to score in the 93rd minute.