Liberty A-League R21 Preview: 3-team battle for 6th complicated by Jets’ horror run against Victory

Round 21 of the Liberty A-League season is upon us! Ahead of a crucial weekend in the race for finals football, previews all six of the contests.

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Saturday, 4:00pm AEDT: Newcastle Jets v Melbourne Victory

Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory will lock horns at No.2 Sportsground on Saturday in a game that could have massive ramifications for the remainder of their respective seasons.

With two games left in the regular campaign, the Jets currently occupy seventh spot on the ladder and are three points behind Western Sydney Wanderers, meaning they will need to better their results in the final games of the season in order to seal finals football.

Should the Jets be victorious over Victory then they would move level on points with the Wanderers before Robbie Hooker’s side kick off against Western United later on Saturday evening.

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Should the Jets win and Wanderers lose at the weekend then both sides will be level on points and games won, meaning it will go down to the final day of the season to decide who snags a finals position.

The bad news though is that the Jets have lost their last eight matches against Victory, conceding a whopping 27 goals and scoring only six, so they’ll certainly need Sarina Bolden to be fit and firing come Saturday afternoon.

Speaking of Victory, Jeff Hopkins’ side need just a point from their remaining two matches to guarantee themselves a spot in this year’s finals.

They arrive in New South Wales amid a nine-game unbeaten run in which they’ve also picked up five wins.

One player who has been somewhat key in their recent good run has been Matildas striker Emily Gielnik, who with seven goals in those nine games, has hit form at just the right time for her side.

Should Victory fail to pick up the point they need against Newcastle, then they will head into the final round of fixtures in the same position, however they will want to get the job done before that game given they end their regular season away to Sydney FC, who themselves could need something from that game in order to seal the premier’s plate.


  • Newcastle Jets: 7th
  • Melbourne Victory: 5th


  • Newcastle Jets: L – W – D – L – W
  • Melbourne Victory: D – W – W – W – D


  • Newcastle Jets will be looking to win back-to-back A-League Women games for the first time since February 2019 after picking up a 3-1 win against Western United FC in their last game in the competition.
  • Rachel Lowe (10 in 2023-24) is two away from equalling Melina Ayres (12 in 2022-23) for the most goals by a Melbourne Victory player in a single A-League Women season; Lowe scored two goals in her most recent appearance against Newcastle Jets in the competition (12 November 2023).


Saturday, 4:00pm AEDT: Melbourne City v Central Coast Mariners

They may have both locked-in finals football for this season but Melbourne City and Central Coast still have plenty to play for in the remaining two matches given both sides can still win the Premier’s Plate.

With three games left to play this season compared to their rivals’ two, it’s in Sydney FC’s hands when it comes to finishing top of the pile. However, should either City or the Mariners win their remaining two matches then it puts them in a very strong position.

City come into the contest off the back of their goalless draw with Victory in the Melbourne Derby, with the draw leaving them third on the ladder and just a point behind league leaders Sydney.

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After a strong start to the season, City were favourites to finish top of the league however a dip in form coupled with the impressive results of Sydney FC and Western United has seen Dario Vidosic’s team fall down the table but still within touching distance of the summit.

In fact, City have won just once in their last seven games but a win over the Mariners coupled with a win in their final league game away to Perth will guarantee them at least a top four finish and could even see them snatch the Premier’s Plate.

Meanwhile, the Mariners find themselves in a similar position, albeit sat in fourth spot and a point worse off than City.

Their 4-1 demolition of Canberra United in Round 20 saw Emily Husband’s Central Coast secure a spot in the Finals in what is their first season back in the Liberty A-League since 2009.

The Mariners come into the game in red-hot form having won their last four matches in a row, scoring 11 goals, keeping two clean sheets and conceding just two goals during that time.

Provided Sydney and Western United both don’t win this weekend and the Mariners do, then Central Coast will sit top of the Liberty A-League ahead of the Sky Blues’ midweek clash with Canberra United on Wednesday March 27.

Undoubtedly key to Central Coast’s excellent recent form has been the attacking trident of Matilda Kyah Simon, Chinese international Wurigumula and winger Rola Badawiya – who have been responsible for eight of the team’s last 11 goals.


  • Melbourne City: 3rd
  • Central Coast Mariners: 4th


  • Melbourne City: D – D – L – W – D
  • Central Coast Mariners: D – W – W – W – W


  • Melbourne City are unbeaten in their five games at Melbourne City Football Academy in the A-League Women (W3 D2), keeping three clean sheets and conceding just two goals in that span.
  • Wurigumula (Central Coast Mariners) has created 41 scoring chances in open play this A-League Women season, four more than any other player in the competition and 15 more than any Melbourne City FC player.


Saturday, 6:00pm AEDT: Western Sydney Wanderers v Western United

All eyes will be on Wanderers Football Park on Saturday evening as Western Sydney Wanderers host Western United.

Sat in sixth spot and currently occupying one of two remaining spots in this year’s Finals Series, the Wanderers know a win over title-chasing Western United will go an enormous way to securing their spot in the top six.

With two games left to play, the Wanderers head into their match sat three points clear of Newcastle Jets in seventh and know they merely need to match the Jets’ results in order to qualify for the post-season.

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The Wanderers can still technically win the Premier’s Plate given they’re sat six points behind Sydney FC with two games left to play however that dream will be over should the defending champions pick up a point in one of their next three games.

As for Western United, their title chances were dented in Round 20 after they suffered a shock 3-1 loss at home to Newcastle Jets in what was the first ever game at the new Regional Football Facility in Tarneit.

That result, coupled with Sydney’s 4-2 win over Wellington Phoenix, meant Western were bumped off top spot in the Liberty A-League by the Sky Blues and it now means their hopes of clinching a first piece of silverware no longer remain in their own hands.

Undoubtedly a factor in that loss to Newcastle was the fact key midfielders Adriana Taranto (ACL) and Chloe Logarzo (hip) were missing in Tarneit and former Wanderers Kat Smith will be without both players for the remainder of the regular season due to their respective injuries.

Western United will regain top spot in the league this weekend should they defeat the Wanderers and Sydney fail to beat Adelaide United although the Sky Blues will regain top spot should they win their game in hand against Canberra on Wednesday March 27.

The Wanderers hold the head-to-head advantage over Western having won two of their three meetings while this game will also see two of the leagues top scorers meet if both Wanderers’ Sophie Harding (10) and Western’s Hannah Keane (9) take to the field.


  • Western Sydney Wanderers: 6th
  • Western United: 2nd


  • Western Sydney Wanderers: L – L – D – W – W
  • Western United: W – W – W – L – L


  • Holly Caspers (Western Sydney Wanderers) has provided seven assists in the 2023-24 A-League Women season, 3.6 more than her Expected Assists value suggests – the best positive differential of any player in the competition.
  • Western United have lost their last two A-League Women games, each by a score of 1-3 on the day; they had won six straight games prior to that run and a third straight loss would equal their longest losing streak in the competition.


Sunday, 2:00pm AEDT: Canberra United v Wellington Phoenix

Sunday’s clash between Canberra United and Wellington just got even bigger following the Phoenix’ 4-0 win over Adelaide United in midweek.

The ‘Nix went into that home game with the Reds knowing it was win or bust with regards to the finals chances this season, however their 4-0 win now puts them right back in the race for a top six finish.

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With two games left in the regular season they are still the outside bet when it comes to sealing sixth spot on the ladder, especially since sixth placed Western Sydney can knock Wellington out of the finals race should they accrue one more win from their remaining two games; Western United (H), Wellington Phoenix (A).

Meanwhile Wellington will also be knocked out of the finals race if fifth placed Newcastle pick up maximum points from their remaining two games which see them play Melbourne Victory (H) and Adelaide United (A).

In short, Wellington must win both of their remaining fixtures against Canberra United (A) and, crucially, Western Sydney Wanderers (H) and hope that their finals rivals fail to take any points from their remaining two fixtures.

As for Canberra United, Njegosh Popovich’s team are still battling to avoid the wooden spoon this season but that 4-0 loss for Adelaide United against Wellington has potentially done them a big favour.

With three games left in their season Canberra know it’s in their own hands when it comes to climbing off bottom spot and while their opponents are desperately chasing a spot in the finals, Canberra will be encouraged by the fact the ‘Nix have won just two away games all season.

Canberra head into the clash without a win in their last five matches and a big concern for Popovich will be the fact his side just haven’t been able to stop leaking goals.

The side from the ACT have conceded 46 goals this campaign – the worst record in the competition – and they’ve actually conceded four goals or more in three of their last four matches.

At the other end of the pitch though Canberra have been fine and captain Michelle Heyman certainly has her eyes fixed on an individual prize as she closes in on this season’s Golden Boot – currently leading the way with 14 goals to her name.


  • Canberra United: 12th
  • Wellington Phoenix: 8th


  • Canberra United: D – L – D – L – L
  • Wellington Phoenix: L – L – W – L – W


  • Canberra United (35 goals, +8.3) have exceeded their Expected Goals by more than any other team in the 2023/24 A-League Women season, while the Wellington Phoenix have exceeded their Expected Goals Against by more than any other team in the campaign (32 goals conceded, +6.4).
  • Michaela Robertson (Wellington Phoenix) has been directly involved in four goals in her last four A-League Women matches (3 goals, 1 assist) after recording only one goal involvement across 20 career appearances in the competition prior to that span (1 goal).


Sunday, 4:00pm AEDT: Sydney FC v Adelaide United

With three games left in their season Sydney FC will be confident of making history in the Liberty A-League.

Currently sat top and a point clear of Western United, the reigning Champions know two wins from their remaining three games will be enough to secure them a record fourth-straight Premier’s Plate.

Furthermore, with games against the league’s bottom two sides to come against Adelaide and Canberra respectively, Ante Juric’s side will be confident of getting the job done before they face Melbourne Victory in a Big Blue clash on the final day of the season.

Key to their recent form has been recalled Matilda Cortnee Vine, who with nine goals and five assists this season, has enjoyed another stellar campaign as the Sky Blues aim to go back-to-back, securing both the Premiership and the Championship.

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Meanwhile the league’s outstanding shot-stopper this season Jada Whyman will make her 100th Liberty A-League appearance when she takes to the field this weekend.

Adelaide United arrive in the Harbour City hoping to secure a win which will give them a huge shot in the arm when it comes to avoiding the wooden spoon.

Locked in a battle with Canberra United, Adelaide are level on points with Njegosh Popovich’s team however they sit above them on the ladder having recorded one more win (4) this season.

Wednesday’s heavy 4-0 loss to Wellington Phoenix was Adelaide’s fourth-consecutive loss in the competition and they’ve conceded 12 goals in that stretch.

Adrian Stenta’s side have the second-worst defence in the competition this season and they’ve only managed ONE clean sheet in the 20 matches they’ve played.


  • Sydney FC: 1st
  • Adelaide United: 11th


  • Sydney FC: W – D – W – W – W
  • Adelaide United: D – L – L – L – L


  • Sydney FC have won eight of their last 10 A-League Women matches against Adelaide United (L2); although, the Sky Blues have led at halftime on the day only four times in that span.
  • Adelaide United have recorded an Expected Goals Against value of 0.16 per shot conceded this A-League Women season, the highest of any team in the competition; indeed, only Canberra United (46) have conceded more goals than the Reds (45).


Sunday, 4:00pm AEDT: Brisbane Roar v Perth Glory

Sunday’s clash at Perry Park now has both sides playing to see who can finish higher on the ladder after both were knocked out of finals contention last week.

For Brisbane, a 2-1 away win over Adelaide United looked to have been enough before Western Sydney ended the Roar’s finals chances with a 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Wanderers Football Park.

Alex Smith’s side currently occupy 10th spot on the ladder and they’ll be confident of beating Perth in Round 21 given the two sides’s recent form.

Whilst it’s not been enough to secure finals football Brisbane are going in search of a third win in five matches, a run which has been aided by the form of winger Sharn Freier – who has five assists this season – as does recently selected Matilda Tameka Yallop.

Perth Glory come into the game off the back of their recent 1-0 loss to the Wanderers and their early season form seems like a lifetime ago given they’ve gone from being early Premier’s Plate contenders to missing finals altogether.

Unfortunately for Alex Epakis’ side their form has abandoned them since December and they’ve now almost gone three months without a win in the league – their last victory coming back on December 31 against the Central Coast Mariners.


  • Brisbane Roar: 10th
  • Perth Glory: 9th


  • Brisbane Roar: L – L – W – L – W
  • Perth Glory: D – L – D – L – L


  • Brisbane Roar FC will be looking to avoid back-to-back defeats in Queensland in the A-League Women for the first time since February 2022, following their 0-2 loss against Central Coast Mariners in their last match in their home state (9 March 2024).
  • Morgan Aquino (Perth Glory) has made a league-high 124 saves this A-League Women season and has prevented 7.2 goals (28 goals conceded, 35.2 xG on Target Conceded) which is nearly twice as many as any other goalkeeper in the competition.