Melbourne Victory Women
Western Sydney Wanderers FC Women
Early season surprise-packets Western Sydney Wanderers have confirmed themselves as top four contenders after drawing 1-1 with defending Premiers Melbourne Victory on Saturday afternoon.
The high-flying Wanderers extended their unbeaten start to the Westfield W-League season on the back of a deserved second-half equaliser from American international Lynn Williams.
Haley Hanson’s maiden Westfield W-League goal opened accounts just eight minutes into the contest for the Victory – the American delivering a well-placed finish on the slide after combining with Natasha Dowie.
However, the Wanderers dominated the chances for the remainder of the contest before and after Williams’ 62nd minute strike – also her first in the Westfield W-League.
Victory goalkeeper Casey Dumont proved crucial to securing a point for the hosts with a number of vital stops throughout the contest.
The draw temporarily lifted the Wanderers to the top of the Westfield W-League table, while a share of the points marks a steady-enough start to the season’s home fixtures for the Victory, after returning to domestic competition following their AFC Women's Club Championship commitments.
Running with the breeze from the kick-off, Victory initially started brightly in their home opener.
Teigen Allen’s cross-turned-shot bounced back off the cross bar just six minutes in, before Dowie and Melina Ayres sent their efforts wide.
The breakthrough came shortly after when Hanson combined with Dowie – the American tucking away her captain’s squaring ball on the slide.
However, the Wanderers response was promising as Kristen Hamilton and Amy Harrison drew saves from Victory goalkeeper Dumont either side of the quarter hour mark.
The visitors continued to apply the pressure as Kyra Cooney-Cross and Lynn Williams again called upon Dumont with a pair of low stops midway through the half.
An increasingly physical arm-wrestle ensued as the chances drying up for the remainder of the half. Darian Jenkins’ tame strike on a tight angle in the 40th minute for Victory was the only further opportunity of note before the break.
The attacking impetus returned after the restart as Grace Maher’s 54th minute free-kick for the Victory clipped the top of the crossbar, before Williams sent a shot fizzing over the crossbar for the Wanderers just a minute later.
However, Williams didn’t have to wait much longer to find her first Westfield W-League goal – poking past the onrushing Dumont on the back of a well-placed direct ball from Alexandra Huynh in the 62nd minute.
Wanderers spurned chances to edge ahead soon after as Hamilton twice failed to capitalise in the as the momentum remained with the visitors.
By contrast, Victory struggled for attacking cohesion in open play as the match wore on with Amy Jackson, Rosie Sutton and Dowie failing to find the target with largely speculative efforts from distance as the closing quarter hour approached.
The Wanderers continued to look the most likely to break the deadlock in the closing stages but ultimately could not find the winner. Williams shot across the face in the 88th minute before Hamilton struck the post in injury time and Sam Staab was foiled by a sharp save from Dumont with the last play of the match.
After returning from their Round 5 bye, Western Sydney Wanderers host Sydney FC in the Sydney Derby on Friday, 20 December at 5pm at Bankwest Stadium. Get your tickets here.
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