The Western Sydney Wanderers entered this season with a new coach, and a wealth of young talent. But slumping to the bottom of the table, did they meet expectations?
Finishing position: 9th (One win, four draws, nine losses)
There weren’t too many highs for the Wanderers this year, with the start of their season the only real positive.
Out of their seven points in season 2021/22, six of them came in the opening five rounds of the season. Whilst they had three draws to start the season off, one of those draws came against eventual minor premiers Sydney FC.
Their only win of the season came in week five against 2020/21 semi finalists Brisbane Roar. Winning 1-0, goalkeeper Sarah Willacy was the hero on the day, making nine saves to keep the Roar at bay.
The Wanderers defence was also relatively strong. They still conceded plenty of goals, however they conceded the least goals per game among the bottom five sides (1.9).
The experienced Caitlin Cooper was the Wanderers best defender, finishing the season with a team high 55 clearances (fifth highest in A-League Women) as well as 24 interceptions.
It was a season of plenty of lows for Western Sydney. However the lowest of those came between January 28 and February 15.
In the games played between those dates, the Wanderers only scored once and conceded 15 goals in four games. In three of those games they conceded 64 shots, including 27 shots against Adelaide United.
The game at home against Canberra United they conceded 22 shots, 16 of which were on target. Against the Victory they conceded five from seven shots on target. even taking more shots than their opposition (15-12). They conceded 10 goals in the last two games of that period.
Their attack was by far their lowest point in 2022. After scoring only 13 goals in 2020/21 despite finishing sixth, they scored a league low seven goals in 2021/22, failing to register a score in nine games.
Ex-Australian under 20 captain Olivia Price was a shining light in midfield during a dark year for the Wanderers.
She missed only two games this year, and whenever she played she always worked hard between the boxes.
Whilst she wasn’t a major attacking threat (taking just nine shots), her defensive numbers improved from after being given more playing time under new coach Catherine Cannuli.Embed from Getty Images
In the end she won 19/24 tackles (79 per cent) and made 12 clearances and 17 interceptions. She also completed 15/21 dribbles (71.4 per cent) and had eight key passes (up from five in 2020/21).
Price is by far the hardest worker in the Wanderers engine room, and her work rate will be key if they are to improve in 2022/23.
After coming across from Canberra United, local girl Ashlie Crofts is a name Wanderers fans won’t want to forget.
Coming in and out of the Wanderers lineup during the season, she was a constant threat in attack when she was given the chance. When she did play, she played quite often as a makeshift striker.Embed from Getty Images
And the experiment by Cannuli and her staff paid off, as she finished as the Wanderers top goalscorer with three goals from only four shots on target.
Whilst Crofts played only the seven games, she was still an unexpected package for Western Sydney. She’ll look to continue to surprise next season.
The 2021/22 is a season that Wanderers fans would want to put in the back of their minds, having won only one game and lost eight.
It is a side filled with plenty of talent, experience and class, particularly in defence and in midfield. And it has a bright future with depth full of young players including Price, Crofts, Bianca Galic and Bryleeh Henry.
But one thing they’ll need to look for is someone up front who can consistently score goals and be a threat.
Seven goals in 14 games is a poor effort, and when your top goalscorer is yet again not a natural striker, there is cause for concern.
Whilst Cannuli might still continue to experiment with different makeshift strikers next year, the Wanderers will still need to bring in an out-and-out focal point up top if they are to climb the A-League Women table.
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