The Western Sydney Wanderers Westfield W-League team head to AAMI Park on Thursday night to take on fourth-placed Melbourne Victory in a game that will have significant Finals ramifications.
The Wander Women kept alive their hopes of post-season action with an excellent 1-0 win over reigning champions Melbourne City last Thursday at the Wanderers Football Park.
The win saw Dean Heffernan’s team move to sixth place on the ladder with 10 points, four behind Victory who have a game in hand.
A Leena Khamis winner in the 70th minute, after great lead-up work from Teigan Collister, proved the difference for the Wander Women.
Collister was superb all night, and continued her strong form in recent weeks, with her blistering speed proving again to be a major weapon for the Wanderers. Collister had 41 touches against City and every one of them looked like they could create something.
The fast-paced forward's powerful run set up Khamis’ winner. After collecting the ball in her own half, she drove forward teasing Checker before turning the Matilda defender inside out, eventually sliding the ball to Khamis who gratefully dispatched the ball into the net.
The brilliant solo effort came only minutes after she was winded by a heavy tackle from Checker, who along with Tori Tumeth was City’s best all night.
Young midfielder Sarah Hunter was again impressive, and despite being physically battered about, she kept on working hard. Her presence in the middle of the park with Libby Copus-Brown gave the Wander Women a tough edge and provided the perfect balance to allow Collister to wreak havoc on the right flank.
Melbourne City were physical all night, conceding 23 fouls to eight, but the Red & Black refused to be intimidated. The game was relatively even through the most part, with City enjoying the counterattack while the Wander Women were prepared to try a number of different avenues to goal.
Danika Matos and Caitlin Cooper were again excellent down back, repelling City regularly but also building attacking moves with solid ball distribution.
In the end, the Wander Women can thank a team effort for what was their best win of the season.
Victory go into the game on the back of a 1-1 draw against Canberra United on the weekend. An Angie Beard strike in the ninth minute for Victory was cancelled out by Nickoletta Flannery in the 47th minute.
The Victorians have been in strong form in the past month, winning three in a row before Sunday’s draw with Canberra.
Catherine Zimmerman has been in strong form for Victory this season with four goals, while former Wanderer Kyra Cooney-Cross has been impressive all season with 22 shots on goal and 15 goal scoring chances created.
Matilda legend Lisa De Vanna will also be a threat up front for the Wanderers defence to deal with. Her battle with Cooper and Nikola Orgill will go a long way to determining the winner on Thursday night.
Last season’s game between the teams ended up 1-1 in Morwell.
Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Thursday 4 March, 7:05pm