Adelaide United headed to the scene of a missed opportunity from the 2020/21 A League Women and produced their best performance of the season.
Both the Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide United entered the match at Marconi Stadium in contrasting forms after ending up the last match week in the opposite spectrums of 1-0 results. The Wanderers could not find an answer to a stunning Deborah-Anne De la Harpe free kick who claimed all three points for Perth, while Adelaide United continued its finals push with a home win against the Wellington Phoenix.
Last season, Adrian Stenta’s Adelaide United side missed out on finals on goal difference. They were left to rue 2 points dropped against the Wanderers at Marconi Stadium, they were determined to ensure history did not repeat itself.
All that had to wait as both teams had their pregame routines interrupted as kick off was delayed after the discovery of a sinkhole on the ground minutes before the game started. A new patch of turf was finally installed and the game kicked off with a 20 minute delay.
The pregame delay only seemed to spur both sides on, with a feisty first half of football played at Marconi that saw the referee call 17 fouls, but surprisingly, no cards.
Adelaide United’s focus coming into this matchup would have been providing higher quality chances for its forwards, who despite dominating the Phoenix last week, only managed to score once. United faced a much different task against a miserly Wanderer’s defence, led by Caitlin Cooper and Clare Hunt, that up to this point of the season had only conceded multiple goals once in a game this season, against the all-conquering Sydney FC.
A daunting task for any side, but one that United passed with flying colours.
United made a bright start, looking especially dangerous from set pieces; five minutes in the game, that is where the breakthrough came from. Fiona Worts put in a second ball off a corner which Chelsie Dawber managed to nod onto her teammate Kayla Sharples, who caught 3 Wanderers napping to squeeze in the opener for the Reds.
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Fiona Worts continued being a stand out for United. After breaking an A League Women record for seven key passes in a game, she continued being central to United’s positive movement with another massive 6 key passes recorded against the Wanderers.
An early goal for United meant alarm bells for the Wanderers; Catherine Cannuli’s side coming into the game only having scored twice in seven games (once from open play).
United kept pushing for a second goal in the first half but got constantly denied by the shot stopping brilliance of former goalkeeper Sarah Langman, who saved United countless times in past seasons.
The Wanderers did not let statistics automatically condemn them to a loss and a challenged United’s backline, with a penalty claim denied and Annalee Grove pulling off the best save of her young career to keep the Wanderers at bay.
A resolute Adelaide United emerged in the second half, wanting to put the game beyond any doubt. Chelsie Dawber made sure of that fact, twice.
54 minutes into the game, Wanderers midfielder Bianca Galic was caught on the ball by Dylan Holmes, the ball fell to creative outlet Fiona Worts who played a pass to the lethal Dawber who made no mistake.
As the game was winding down, it was a subsitute that provided another breakthrough.
For the second time this season, Reona Omiya showed her quality off the bench, assisting Chelsie Dawber for her second and condemning the Wanderers to their worst loss of the season.
Dawber is not a stranger to the goal sheet at Marconi, helping United to a point last season. Even more impressive is the fact that this brace was Dawber’s 11th goal in her last 13 games, rising to second on the Golden Boot race with six goals this season.
Adelaide United produced a rare consecutive clean sheet and with its best performance of the season, keep proving that it is a serious chance at a maiden finals appearance. A showdown against fellow finals hopefuls Newcastle Jets next week will go a long way to deciding the fate of the fourth finals spot.
The Wanderers became the only A League Women’s side in history to start its first eight games with only two goals. So far this season it has been the backline that has held the Wanderers in game. With Clare Hunt going off injured and her team collapsing, it is clear the Wanderers must find a plan B if they are to salvage anything from this season.
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