In-form Wanderers upstage Liberty A-League leaders Melb City thanks to Caspers’ season first

Check out all the highlights from the Unite Round clash between Western Sydney Wanderers and Melbourne City

Holly Caspers’ second-half strike sealed a third straight win for Western Sydney Wanderers as they trumped Liberty A-League leaders Melbourne City 1-0 at CommBank Stadium.

Despite having the lion’s share of chances, including a missed second-half penalty by Rhianna Pollicina, it was the Wanderers who went home with all three points after a Lysianne Proulx error handed Caspers her first goal of the season on Sunday.

The result means Western Sydney are now up into fourth in the standings after equalling their longest ever winning streak in the competition amid a three-game run, while City missed out on the chance to extend their lead atop the summit.

City initially found it hard to live with their opponents’ intensity in the early stages of the Unite Round contest as the Wanderers’ high press forced a couple of early turnovers, one of which led to Caspers warming the gloves of City keeper Proulx.

However, City soon began to take control of possession and they fashioned their first chance of the game in the 20th minute.

A long diagonal ball from Kaitlyn Torpey unleashed the dangerous Daniela Galic who, after drawing in her defender, picked out the on-rushing Leticia McKenna but her shot was straight at Wanderers keeper Kaylie Collins.

City then went even closer to opening the scoring in the 27th minute but Emina Ekic’s curling left-footed effort from outside the box crashed back off the crossbar after the Wanderers defence had been carved open by Pollicina.

The chances kept on coming for City as Hannah Wilkinson then forced Collins into an excellent save with the Wanderers keeper tipping her effort round the post from close range after the New Zealand international was picked out inside the box by Galic.

However it was the impressive Proulx who made the best save of the first half, leaping to her right to tip Maliah Morrris’ deflected effort round the post and away to safety in the 39th minute.

Sophie Harding then showed Taylor Otto a clean pair of heels, driving past the City defender as she bore down on goal but the Wanderers’ number nine subsequently sent a tame effort into the arms of Proulx as both sides went in goalless at the break.

City came flying out of the traps in the second half and were inches away from taking the lead in spectacular fashion.

Receiving the ball off of Ekic, Wilkinson then returned the favour, picking out her teammate who had continued her run into the box before unleashing a stunning bicycle kick which flew narrowly past the post.

City’s pressure finally told in the 63rd minute when Pollicina’s in-swinging corner was flicked on by Taylor Otto and into the arms of Danika Matos and the referee showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Unfortunately for Melbourne City though, Pollicina stepped up to the spot and blazed her penalty wide of the mark, much to the delight of the Wanderers backline who believed the decision to award the penalty was a harsh one.

The breakthrough finally came in the 67th minute and it was Wanderers forward Caspers who was in the right place at the right time.

Closing down City’s passing lanes, the 23-year old intercepted a poor pass from Proulx before simply lifting the ball over the head of the stranded keeper and into an empty net to make it 1-0.

City looked to hit back as Kaitlyn Torpey’s deflected cross was well-saved at her near post by Kaylie Collins.

Caspers then had a glorious chance to seal the win after cutting inside Rebekah Stott on the right hand side but her shot was straight into the arms of Proulx.

Immediately up the other end, Melbourne City almost pulled level but Wilkinson could only stab her effort wide of the post in the 85th minute and the Wanderers held on to secure a memorable win in front of their own fans.

The talking point

The Wanderers weren’t happy with conceding a penalty for handball by Danika Matos and while replays suggested her arm was away from her body, there’s no doubt Rhianna Pollicina missing the resulting spot kick galvanised Robbie Hooker’s side.

Sophie Harding posed a constant threat with her ability to chase down lost causes while the midfield harassed and harried the City players as they looked to gain a foothold in the game.

But it was Caspers who, for so much of this Liberty A-League season has been the one assisting her teammates, produced the game defining moment to finally bag her first league goal of the campaign and seal a memorable win.

The star

Holly Caspers’ goal was what what won it for the Wanderers but just as important for the home side was keeper Kaylie Collins.

The American produced a series of strong saves throughout the 90 minutes, including a brilliant save to deny Hannah Wilkinson in the first half while her decisiveness at set-pieces eased the pressure on her defence.

What it means

For the Wanderers, their third consecutive win pushes them up into fourth on the ladder, just two points behind rivals Sydney FC.

Next up for Robbie Hooker’s side is an away trip to Central Coast Mariners in round 12.

As for Melbourne City, defeat means they miss out on the chance to go eight points clear at the top of the ladder and they’ll now be hoping to bounce back when they face Wellington Phoenix in January 20.