Wellington Phoenix defender Kate Taylor paid tribute to the impact the Liberty A-League side are having on New Zealand football after they stunned ladder-leaders Sydney FC 1-0.
Despite entering the contest bottom of the table, the visiting Phoenix weren’t overawed at Jubilee Stadium on Saturday afternoon and took a deserved lead when Taylor struck in the 32nd minute.
Retaining higher possession and outshooting their foes, they were subsequently able to overcome a few nervy moments and calls to action for keeper Brianna Edwards to hold out for the biggest win in the second-year club’s history.
A senior international at just 19, Taylor said that the club’s entrance to the A-League Women’s had made a significant impact as New Zealand prepares to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup alongside Australia, despite their struggle to find consistent results.
“This team has been immense for the (Football) Ferns and the U20s,” Taylor told Dub Zone.
When we went to that (U20) World Cup last year it made us a lot stronger, the four of us that had played in the professional game helped the rest of them.
“I think this Phoenix team has been so good and I know that it’s only the start.
“To be able to [beat Sydney] today makes it so much easier [to keep working].”
Though unable to take the points, Sydney still lead the competition after second-placed Western United fell to Brisbane in a simultaneous kick-off.
And with two games in hand over United and a five-point buffer over third-placed Melbourne City, they retain control of their premiership fate with four games to play before finals.
The hosts were forced into a reshuffle due to a combination of injuries, suspension, and international duty for the Kiwis’ visit; goalkeeper Jada Whyman, defender Charlotte Mclean, and captain Natalie Tobin among the absentees.
They still had their chances, most notably a first-half effort from Anna Green and a 76th-minute attempt from Mackenzie Hawkesby, but couldn’t find the form that had swept away their top-four rivals this season.
The shock but deserved result moved Wellington to within a point of 10th-placed Newcastle, with a game in hand, in their quest to avoid back-to-back wooden spoons.
“Today was special,” Taylor said.
“I look around and there are so many tired bodies.
“It means so much to us, to beat them at their home ground is not easy, they’re a great team.”
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