Adelaide United eased to a 3-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Marconi Stadium on Friday night, as Chelsie Dawber starred with a second-half brace.
Kayla Sharples put the first Reds goal on the board inside five minutes after a faulty sprinkler head delayed the start of the game by 22 minutes. The visitors burst out of the blocks, with Wanderers keeper Sarah Langman pulling off a string of saves to keep her side in it before a second-half collapse saw the Reds waltz away with the points.
KEEPUP followed on LIVE to bring you up to date scores, highlights and biggest talking points from the first game of what promises to be an entertaining weekend of A-Leagues action.
MATCH REPORT: DAWBER BRACE HELPS REDS EASE PAST WANDERERS
Dawber and Worts strike combo a ‘frightening’ prospect for Liberty A-League opponents
Two goals to Chelsie Dawber against the Wanderers took her tally for the season to six; and despite not getting on the scoresheet herself, the complimentary style of play Fiona Worts brings to the table is one Paramount+ football analyst Georgia Yeoman-Dale sees bearing fruit for the Reds as they target a push for a club-first finals appearance.
“(Dawber) had a fantastic game tonight,” Yeoman-Dale said post-match.
“That’s a very clinical finish from her (for her second goal), and we’ve seen her do it time and time again in the A-League Women’s season.
“She’s a great attacking player, she brings other players into the game and her combination with Fiona Worts up front is frightening for the rest of the league.”
The Reds cruised to a 3-0 win on Friday night, collecting their second clean sheet in a row – but although the goals flowed at Marconi Stadium, Dawber knows it’s a feat her side need to repeat on a regular basis to avoid a repeat of the heartbreaking end to last season.
“We missed out (on the finals) by one goal last year,” Dawber told Paramount+ post-match. “So we know every game is very important toward the end of the season.
“It’s only a 14-game season so we know each week we need to come in, take the three points and go again next week.”
Dawber added: “I think I did pretty well, but it was a great team performance overall. We came straight out after the game delay firing, I think that set the tone for the rest of the game, so I’m pretty happy with our whole team performance.
“I don’t think we’re a very dirty or physical side ourselves, but we came to the party and we matched the physicality and came out with the win in the end.”
The damning record hampering the Wanderers’ Liberty A-League campaign
Never before has a Liberty A-League side scored fewer goals after eight rounds than Catherine Cannuli’s Wanderers.
With just two goals on the board this season, the Wanderers are lagging behind the rest of the pack. Even the Phoenix – with just one point from seven games – have scored more (three).
Before tonight, Western Sydney’s defensive record was keeping them alive. Cannuli’s side had conceded just five goals heading into the Reds clash – but a first-half shoulder injury to key defender Clare Hunt coincided with the concession of a further two goals before the final whistle.
Adelaide had 28 shots to the Wanderers’ eight, with 10 shots on target to just three.
Wanderers defender Alexandra Huynh says she’s frustrated with her side’s form line, as from within the club she sees incremental improvement as each game goes by.
“I think if you compare today to last week (a 1-0 loss to Perth Glory), we had so much more build-up in the middle and top third,” Huynh told Paramount+ post-match.
“Obviously we’ve been working on it a lot, and you can see – the chemistry, the girls are starting to click. But it’s like you said, the ball isn’t going into the back of the net, and that’s where it needs to be.
“Honestly just devastated because we have improved. We deserved at least a couple of goals tonight. Credit to Adelaide they did well defensively. It just hurts to lose again.”
FULL-TIME: WANDERERS 0-3 REDS
The final whistle blows on a brilliant night at Marconi Stadium for the Reds, who notch a second-consecutive clean sheet and move into third spot on the Liberty A-League table after making light work of the Wanderers.
Watch all the highlights from the live coverage below.
GOAL! Dawber scores two as Adelaide cruise (9.55pm AEDT)
Two second-half goals to Dawber put the Reds 3-0 ahead – and the Adelaide number 10 in contention for the golden boot.
She’s got six goals in eight games so far in 2021/22. Hannah Wilkinson – who scored five goals in a single game earlier this season – leads the way with eight. Dawber’s season is picking up pace, and the Melbourne City striker should be looking in her rear vision mirrors as Dawber mounts her charge for the honour of Liberty A-League top scorer .
Points drifting away for Wanderers with Reds coasting (9.40pm AEDT)
Cannuli is bringing Danika Matos and Malia Steinmetz off the bench for Teigen Allen and Bianca Galic as the Wanderers chase the game trailing two goals to nil.
But there is very little sign of a late Western Sydney surge, with the Reds looking more likely to score a third.
GOAL DAWBER! Reds make it two (9.25pm AEDT)
Chelsie Dawber has put the visitors two goals to the good with a well-taken finish in the 55th minute of play, driving toward Langman to set up a one-on-one which she came out of on top with ease, slotting the ball past the Wanderers keeper into the back of the net.
The Reds were wasting their opportunities to put this one to bed up until the Dawber goal – and the calm finish has given Adelaide a comfortable advantage.
SECOND HALF UNDERWAY – Wanderers chasing the game (9.12pm AEDT)
In order to beat the Reds, Western Sydney must score two second half goals.
Catherine Cannuli’s side has scored just two all season. Something must change if the Wanderers are to get a point – let alone three – on their home deck this evening.
Hunt injury a devastating blow for Wanderers (8.45pm AEDT)
On this week’s episode of The Official A-Leagues Podcast, Amy Chapman picked Clare Hunt as “the best centre-back in the league right now”, and a “future Matilda”.
In a disappointing turn of events for the young centre-back, a shoulder injury sustained in an early tussle with Dylan Holmes has seen Hunt substituted in the first half.
The Wanderers have been stoic in defence this season, but after conceding early to the Reds, with Hunt off injured and with the Reds mounting attack after attack, this could be the game in which Western Sydney’s goal difference suffers.
Langman keeping Wanderers in it (8.35pm AEDT)
A huge double save from Wanderers keeper Langman has prevented Adelaide taking a 2-0 lead at Marconi Stadium.
Emily Condon put a gilt-edged chance wide from inside the box before Langman got to work keeping out Sharples and Matilda McNamara in quick succession from a Reds corner.
In the 28th minute, with Langman rushing off her line, Dylan Holmes attempted the chip from distance, but the back-pedalling keeper leapt to the rescue once again. The Reds have a 1-0 lead – but it could be as much as three or four at this stage in the game.
GOAL! Sharples at the back post to finish off Dawber’s work (8.12pm AEDT)
With just five minutes on the clock the Reds have broken the deadlock, with Kayla Sharples arriving at the back post to muscle the ball into the back of the net.
Chelsie Dawber beat outrushing Wanderers keeper Sarah Langman to the ball with a soaring header, sending the ball toward goal. There was plenty for Sharples to do to get the ball over the line, bundling it off the post as three Wanderers defenders arrived before prodding it into the back of the net.
KICK-OFF! At long last, we’re underway at Marconi Stadium (8.07pm AEDT)
We’re underway in the Liberty A-League – albeit 22 minutes later than planned – as the Wanderers host the Reds at Marconi Stadium.
Hopes for an 8.05pm AEDT kick-off as turf replacement efforts roll on (8.00pm AEDT)
We should be 15 minutes into this Liberty A-League clash – but as the clock ticks past 8.00pm the ground staff are hard at work at replacing a piece of turf over the faulty sprinkler head on the field at Marconi Stadium.
‘There’s some drama (before) kick-off at Marconi Stadium’ (7.40pm AEDT)
There’s an issue with the turf at Marconi Stadium which is set to delay kick-off to this Liberty A-League fixture.
A faulty sprinkler head has pooled during pre-game watering of the pitch, and the area surrounding the sprinkler head has been filled with soil. Ground staff are treating the area just to the right of the 18-yard-box with as the maintenance work goes on.
There’s no signs of the two sides out on the ground at this stage. We’ve seen games postponed and delayed for all kinds of reasons of late – but this is a new one.
Warren suggests on the sidelines the latest news from the ground is a delayed 8.05pm AEDT kick-off – stay tuned for more details.
TEAM NEWS (7.20pm AEDT)
The Wanderers can’t seem to buy a goal in the A-League Women’s, with just two goals on the board in 2021/22. But five goals conceded from seven games have kept Catherine Cannuli’s side relevant in the top four race.
Star Wanderers defender Clare Hunt was touted as a future Matilda this week but an Adelaide strike force led by Chelsie Dawber and Fiona Worts will look to break open the dam wall on Friday night.
KEY STAT: Adelaide United are undefeated in their last three Liberty A-League matches against Western Sydney Wanderers (W2, D1); their two victories in that span is as many as they logged in all their 12 meetings prior in the competition (W2, D4, L6).