Liberty A-League R20 Preview: Intriguing Premiership battle set for another twist as finals race heats up

Round 20 of the Liberty A-League season is upon us! Ahead of the action getting underway, previews all six of the contests.

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Saturday, 2:30pm AEDT: Adelaide United v Brisbane Roar

Both sides head into this game having lost their previous outings and are realistically now playing for pride only in the remaining three games of the season.

Sat in 11th spot and ahead of Canberra United by virtue of having one more win to their name, Adelaide have endured a difficult campaign under Adrian Stenta losing more games than any other side (11) and now mathematically out of the finals equation.

Furthermore, the Reds are also the lowest scorers in the division this season finding the back of the net just 20 times.

As for Brisbane, mathematically they can still finish inside the top six but Alex Smith’s team will need a miracle in order to do so and the chances of that happening are next to zero given the results required and the teams involved.

The last time these two sides met it finished in a 1-1 draw while in the previous six encounters before that there have been 25 goals scored – 10 of which were scored in Adelaide’s incredible 8-2 win back in February 2022.


  • Adelaide United: 11th
  • Brisbane Roar: 10th


  • Adelaide United: W – W – D – L – L
  • Brisbane Roar: L – L – L – W – L


  • Brisbane Roar FC have lost only one of their last six A-League Women matches against Adelaide United (W3 D2) – a 2-8 defeat in February 2022; the Roar are undefeated in their three meetings against the Reds since then (W1 D2), scoring exactly one goal in each of those three games.
  • Adelaide United have won three of their last five A-League Women matches in South Australia (L2), despite not leading at halftime on the day in any of those five games in their home state.
  • Adelaide United have won 52% of their duels contested in the 2023/24 A-League Women season, the best rate of any team in the competition; although, they have contested the fewest duels per game of any team (76).


Saturday, 4:00pm AEDT: Western Sydney Wanderers V Perth Glory

Buoyed by their 4-1 win over Canberra United in midweek, the Wanderers head into Round 20 having taken a huge step towards playing finals football for the first time since the 2019-20 season.

Despite going a goal down inside the first minute, a double from Holly Caspers helped Robbie Hooker’s Wanderers secure the win to move them three points clear of Newcastle in the fight to secure what looks to be the only open spot in this year’s finals.

With 27 points to their name, Western Sydney have control over sixth and know a 100% record from their remaining three fixtures will guarantee them a spot in the finals ahead of the chasing pack which consists of Newcastle Jets, Perth Glory, and Wellington Phoenix.

Leading-scorer Sophie Harding missed Wednesday night’s win over Canberra due to an ankle injury picked up against Canberra United and remains a doubt for the game with Perth.

As mentioned, one of the teams hoping to knock the Wanderers out of the way when it comes to booking a spot in the finals is Perth Glory and they can land a big blow this weekend should they win at Wanderers Football Park.

However Perth’s recent form doesn’t make for good reading. Despite a scintillating start to the campaign Alex Epakis’ side are now enduring a nine-game winless streak having last tasted success against the Mariners back on December 31.

Furthermore, last week’s 3-1 home defeat to fellow finals hopefuls Wellington Phoenix was a hammer blow to their chances of securing a spot in the top six and they’ve recorded just one win against the Wanderers in their last six meetings.


  • Western Sydney Wanderers: 6th
  • Perth Glory: 8th


  • Western Sydney Wanderers: W – L – L – D – W
  • Perth Glory: L – D – L – D – L


  • Western Sydney Wanderers FC have lost only one of their last six A-League Women matches against Perth Glory (W4 D1); although, that one defeat did come in their most recent meeting in New South Wales (0-1 – 23 January 2022 at Central Coast Stadium).
  • Perth Glory are winless in their last nine A-League Women matches (D4 L5), despite trailing at halftime on the day only three times in that span; the last and only time the Glory recorded a longer winless run in the competition was a 13-match span from February 2020 to March 2021 (D1 L12).
  • Perth Glory have conceded 27 goals in the 2023/24 A-League Women season, 8.4 fewer than their Expected Goals Against value suggests – the best differential of any team in the competition; Western Sydney Wanderers FC (-3.8) are ranked second in this category.


Sunday, 2:00pm AEDT: Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC

Sunday’s game at Porirua Park is shaping as a huge game in both the race for the Premiership and finals football.

For Wellington, a win for Paul Temple’s side will keep them in the race to secure sixth spot and they’ll know exactly where they will stand heading into the game given the Wanderers and Perth will already have played the day before.

The Phoenix are likely to head into the home clash with Sydney feeling as though an enormous weight has been lifted off their shoulders given they secured just their second away win of the season in Round 19, defeating Perth Glory 3-1 in the Distance Derby.

That result leaves them in 9th spot heading into this round, five points off the Wanderers in sixth place but crucially, they have played one game fewer than their finals rivals and WILL secure a first ever spot in the finals should they win all of their remaining matches, the last of which is a home clash against Western Sydney.

As for Sydney FC, Ante Juric’s side are currently six games unbeaten and head into their Round 20 clash with the ‘Nix on a high after knocking off ladder-leaders Western United 3-1 last time out.

That result leaves the Sky Blues sat in third on the ladder and now just two points behind Western United on top spot but crucially, with a game in hand over both them and second-placed Melbourne City.

Furthermore, Sydney hold an impressive record against Wellington having beaten them in four of their five meetings with an aggregate scoreline of 10-1.


  • Wellington Phoenix: 9th
  • Sydney FC: 3rd


  • Wellington Phoenix: W – L – L – L – W
  • Sydney FC: D – W – D – W – W


  • Sydney FC have won four of their five A-League Women matches against Wellington Phoenix (L1); the Sky Blues have kept a clean sheet in each of their four wins in that span.
  • Wellington Phoenix are undefeated in all their three A-League Women matches at Poirua Park (W2 D1); it’s the only venue the Phoenix have played at more than once in their history in the competition without losing.
  • Sydney FC have made 16.1 shots per game this A-League Women season, the second most of any team in the competition (Melbourne Victory – 16.3); the Sky Blues have conceded 9.5 shots per game, the fewest of any team in the campaign.


Sunday, 2:00pm AEDT: Melbourne Victory v Melbourne City

The Melbourne Derby rarely disappoints in the Liberty A-League and this weekend’s edition promises to be a cracker as 4th plays 2nd at the Home of the Matildas.

Victory come into the clash in red-hot form having won four of their last five matches, scoring 16 goals in that period and they’re actually unbeaten in eight games all up.

Leading the charge for Jeff Hopkins’ side is Matildas striker Emily Gielnik, who with six goals in her last four games has hit form at the perfect time as she looks to force her way back into the national team set-up.

Victory will also be looking to avenge their 1-0 loss to City earlier in the season and will fancy their chances of doing so given the relatively patchy form of their opponents.

City head into the game off the back of a crucial Round 19 win over Newcastle Jets, a result which kept them in second spot on the ladder and just a point behind Western United and a point ahead of Sydney FC.

Dario Vidosic’s side have struggled for form of late having gone five games without a win, losing against two of the league’s three bottom sides in Canberra and Brisbane in that time whilst also drawing 1-1 with Adelaide United who currently occupy 11th spot.

However despite that poor run of form City could return to the top of the league come the end of the round should they defeat their cross-town rivals and Western United fail to beat Newcastle Jets.


  • Melbourne Victory: 4th
  • Melbourne City: 2nd


  • Melbourne Victory: W – D – W – W – W
  • Melbourne City: L – D – D – L – W


  • Melbourne City FC defeated Melbourne Victory 1-0 when they last met in the A-League Women earlier this season (23 December 2023); they will be aiming to defeat the Victory twice in a single season for only the third time in the history of the competition (W2 – 2019/20 and W2 – 2015).
  • Melbourne Victory are undefeated in their last eight A-League Women matches (W5 D3); the last and only time the Victory recorded a longer unbeaten run in the competition was a nine-match span from November 2013 to January 2014 (W7 D2).
  • Melbourne City FC have an Expected Goals value of 0.15 per shot this A-League Women season, the best of any team in the competition; although, City have underperformed against their xG by more than any other team in the campaign (-7.8).


Sunday, 3:00pm AEDT: Central Coast Mariners v Canberra United

Having won three games on the bounce, Central Coast Mariners will be absolutely brimming with confidence when they face bottom side Canberra United in Round 20.

Currently occupying fifth spot on the ladder, the Mariners are only four points behind league leaders Western United and know a win on Sunday could leave them just a point off of top spot should results go their way.

An impressive 2-0 away win against finals-chasing Brisbane Roar in Round 19 saw Matildas forward Kyah Simon continue her resurgence in form as Emily Husband’s side extending the gap to sixth spot out to four points.

Canberra United head into the game off the back of a midweek 4-1 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers and are now playing to avoid the wooden spoon this season.

The defeat at Wanderers Football Park was Canberra’s ninth of the season and leaves them stuck at the bottom on just 15 points, behind 11th placed Adelaide United by virtue of having recorded one fewer victory.

The shining light for Njegosh Popovich’s side has been the excellent form of Matildas striker Michelle Heyman who, having added to her tally in midweek, continues to lead the race for this season’s Golden Boot with 14 goals.


  • Central Coast Mariners: 5th
  • Canberra United: 12th


  • Central Coast Mariners: L – D – W – W – W
  • Canberra United: W – D – L – D – L


  • Central Coast Mariners have lost only one of their four A-League Women matches against Canberra United (W2 D1) and won their most recent meeting earlier this season (3-0 – 23 December 2023); the Mariners will be aiming for back-to-back wins against them for the first time in the history of the competition.
  • Canberra United have won only one of their last 11 A-League Women matches away from McKellar Park (D5 L5) – a 3-1 victory against Adelaide United (13 January 2024); they have conceded exactly four goals in each of their last two games away from the venue (L2).
  • Central Coast Mariners have won possession 66 times per game this A-League Women season, the joint-most of any team in the competition (also Western United FC – 66); Canberra United (50 per game) are ranked last in this category.


Sunday, 4:00pm AEDT: Western United v Newcastle Jets

With just three games left in the regular season almost every game is likely to be crucial but this clash could prove to be more so than others.

For the first time in history, Kat Smith’s Western will play a game at the club’s new facility in Tarneit, a venue which will act as their home ground for the remainder of the season.

With the game against the Jets representing their final home match of the season, Western know a win will go a long way to securing a top-two finish in the league which in itself would then guarantee a home final at the facility.

Despite their disappointing 3-1 loss to Sydney FC last time out, Western have been the team to catch in the Liberty A-League having won their previous six matches.

On the other side of the coin are finals-chasing Newcastle Jets.

A 2-0 loss to Melbourne City in Round 19 coupled with the Wanderers’ win over Canberra in midweek saw Ryan Campbell’s side drop out of the finals places with just three games left to play in the regular season.

Now sat three points behind the Wanderers and with games against Western United, Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United left this season the chances are the Jets will need to win at least two of their remaining three games; a tough ask given two of those opponents are top four sides.

However with Sarina Bolden in their side anything is possible. The Philippines forward has been one of the signings of the season and with 11 goals to her name, she currently sits second in the race for the Golden Boot.

Furthermore, while they may only have met three times in the history of the Liberty A-League it’s the Jets who boast the better record of the two sides, defeating Western twice including a 4-2 win earlier this season where Bolden registered and a goal and an assist.


  • Western United: 1st
  • Newcastle Jets: 7th


  • Western United: W – W – W – W – L
  • Newcastle Jets: W – L – W – D – L


  • Newcastle Jets have won two of all their three A-League Women matches against Western United FC (L2); each of their three meetings have been won by the team leading at halftime on the day.
  • Western United FC lost their most recent A-League Women match (1-3 v Sydney FC – 9 March 2024), snapping a six-match winning run in the competition; they will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats in a single season for the first time since March 2023.
  • Newcastle Jets have gained 12 competition points from losing positions in the 2023/24 A-League Women season, more than any other team in the competition; although, Western United FC have dropped the fewest points from winning positions of any team in the campaign (2).