13/04/2024

Sarina Bolden in action, who was the star of the show for the Western Sydney Wanderers against Western United. Photo Credit: Western Sydney Wanderers/Twitter

It was a game that was 689 days in the making for the Western Sydney Wanderers, who welcomed Western United to Wanderers Football Park, and handed the visitors their first loss of the season, giving the home side back to back wins for the first time since the 18th and 25th of February, 2021.

With no Alana Černe in the backline, Western United struggled throughout this match, and got caught out by the transitional play of the Wanderers with regularity, either through turnovers in dangerous positions, or just not being prepared for the pace of play the Wanderers implemented in their attack.

The Wanderers newest signing in Sarina Bolden opened the scoring after Sophie Harding set her up brilliantly inside the six yard box, allowing Bolden to get her maiden A-League Women’s goal in just her second match. 

Bolden almost had a second goal in the 23rd minute, but Hillary Beall stopped the shot to keep the score at 1-0, and that save proved crucial as Hannah Keane would go down the other end of the field to level it up in the 26th minute with a header.

The transitional play of the Wanderers continued to give them a multitude of chances, but some more solid keeping from Beall and the hosts unable to capitalise on the chances they created.

Western United also had some good chances to close out the first half and both sides felt they very easily could have had the lead heading into the break.

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The half-time break would prove crucial for the home side, who opened the second half with consistent pressure by not allowing the visitors any sort of possession in the Western United attacking half, which paid off with the pressing tactics the Wanderers were employing as they forced a back pass and won an indirect free kick on the edge of the six yard box.

Bethany Gordon and Amy Harrison both stood over the ball, as Gordon tapped it which allowed Harrison to rocket it into the back of the net and giving the Wanderers their one goal lead back.

Bolden had some more good chances for the hosts as Western United found a way to dictate play and almost leveled the scoring on multiple occasions, missing by mere millimeters on one chance, hitting the post on another, and a Jordan Bloomer save denying the visitors from remaining undefeated.

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Bolden had a few more good chances in the second half before being substituted in stoppage time to a standing ovation from the home crowd who were giddy with joy but also incredibly nervous given the occasion.

With the Wanderers picking up two wins on the trot and looking far better than they had for the entire season before her arrival, it begs the question of is she the answer for the Wanderers?

But if she’s the answer, what is the question?

Is the question ‘Have the Wanderers found their new striker going forward and into the 2023/24 season?’ 

Or could it be ‘Will her arrival and performances help Wanderers compete for the remainder of this season?’

The question could also be something else entirely, but if Bolden keeps on performing like she has in her opening two games, she will be the answer regardless.

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