Sister act! Western twins orchestrate new head coach’s first win on club debut

Re-live all the action from Western United's 3-1 win over Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon

Sisters Adriana and Melissa Taranto inspired Western United to a 3-1 win over Adelaide United in the Liberty A-League on Saturday afternoon.

Melissa Taranto assisted a pair of goals to sister Adriana at Marden Sports Complex, laying the platform for a slender victory in new head coach Kat Smith’s first game at the helm.

Chelsie Dawber scored for the hosts to make it 2-1 in the second half but Western striker Hannah Keane restored the two-goal advantage late to help her side into fifth place on the Liberty A-League table.

Smith took over as Western United head coach in late November, after Mark Torcaso vacated the role to focus on his role as head coach of the Philippines women’s national team.

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In torrential conditions, the first half played out with both sides creating mere half-chances to score, before Adriana Taranto’s opener on the cusp of half-time.

An early Alana Jancevski free-kick dropped invitingly for Western keeper Hillary Beall to make a routine stop.

Jaclyn Sawicki then had a long shot saved comfortably by Adelaide keeper Claudia Jenkins in the 18th minute; soon after it was Adelaide on the attack, with Hannah Blake driving a low attempt on goal and calling Hillary Beall into a routine block.

Julia Sardo slid in to block the shot and caught Blake on the ankle as she fired her shot on goal, and there were early fears of a serious injury in the aftermath to the Adelaide striker. Blake repeatedly beat her hand on the ground in agony but, after a delay for treatment, the New Zealander was back on her feet and reintroduced to the contest.

Fellow Reds attacker Mariah Lee was played in on goal just before the half-hour mark, but some determined Western defending ensured the American ran out of runway before taking a shot as the ball dribbled out for a goal kick.

Adriana Taranto grew into the game late in the first half, blasting high over the bar after a solo run into the box – but there was nothing the home side could do about her close-range finish just before half-time, as Melissa Taranto set up her twin sister to brush home the opener with a dangerous cross fizzed through the six-yard box off the right wing, inviting the close-range finish.

Chelsie Dawber came close to an equaliser shortly after the break, directing an inventive shot on the turn from the edge of the area toward the bottom-right corner. Only a terrific diving save from Beall kept Dawber off the scoresheet.

In the 66th minute, Western doubled their lead – and it was the double act of sisters Melissa and Adriana Taranto combining once more in similar circumstances, with the former picking out the latter with a cross off the right wing for a classy finish at the back post.

Western’s two-goal lead lasted mere minutes as Dawber cut the lead in half. The Reds striker pounced on a mistake at the back from Alana Cerne to run in on goal and slot a calm finish into the bottom-left corner.

The opportunity presented to Hannah Keane to restore Western’s two-goal lead – and that opportunity was wasted. Tyla-Jay Vlajnic’s long-range shot was tipped off the post by an incredible Jenkins save, but the rebound fell to the feet of Keane and with the goal at her mercy, her resulting strike flew high over the bar.

Keane’s glorious chance wasted might have come back to haunt Western but the striker made amends at the death with a sliding finish to restore Western’s two-goal lead in an eventual 3-1 win on the road.

The talking point

Was this the moment to launch the Liberty A-League’s reigning Golden Boot winner back towards her best form?

Hannah Keane scored 14 goals last season to top the league’s scoring charts in a remarkable debut season for Western United – but came into Round 7 with just a solitary strike to her name.

Keane has been utilised as a winger for the majority of the season so far, but led the line in Kat Smith’s first game in charge. If Western hope to return to their best form, they need Keane on form and finding goals with regularity – and after yet another afternoon of almost moments, and one glaring miss late in the game, Keane finally found the back of the net to ice the result and break a three-game scoring drought.

Impressively, Paramount+ co-commentator and former Liberty A-League stalwart Rhali Dobson predicted Keane’s moment would come, and tipped the American striker to shake off the cobwebs and return to her best playing down the middle.

Dobson spoke about Keane’s form in the 50th minute of Western’s clash with Adelaide as she toiled to find that breakthrough goal.

“You can’t fault her with her positioning, her attempts,” Dobson said.

“She hasn’t been playing her normal position, so her ability to shoot on target is going to be a little bit off until she gets her eye in.

“But it’s coming. Whether it’s this game or the next, if she’s playing in that traditional role, we’re going to see more goals from her.”

The star

Adriana Taranto had a day out in the pouring rain in Adelaide – and her two-goal performance was a product of the brilliant wing play of her sister Melissa.

The Taranto twins combined to devastating effect to inspire Western to victory, with both goals scored by Adriana Taranto a product of near-identical attacks down the right wing; Melissa Taranto produced a pair of pinpoint crosses to pick out her sister at the back post – and the finishes matched the quality of the delivery.

What it means

Western are fifth and climbing, responding from a 2-0 defeat at home to Western Sydney Wanderers in style against Adelaide on Saturday afternoon.

Smith’s side overcame the testing conditions, and a resolute Adelaide, to notch their third win of the season and draw level on 10 points with Melbourne Victory in fourth.

But for Adelaide, a winless start to the season has left Adrian Stenta’s side on just two points, and in danger of dropping to the foot of the table should Canberra United earn a point or better from their clash with Brisbane Roar on Sunday afternoon.

Adelaide host Wellington Phoenix in Round 8, while Western travel to take on Newcastle Jets.