Heffernan declares fearless Wanderers will make City 'work for every inch'
Western Sydney Wanderers coach Dean Heffernan is instilling a siege mentality in his charges ahead of Thursday evening's pivotal Westfield W-League encounter with Melbourne City.
The runaway league leaders from Victoria arrive at Marconi Park for the 7.30pm AEDT kick off requiring a single point to seal their second Premiership title.
A few months ago, this clash would have been circled as a potential title-decider given the Wanderers' resurgence under Heffernan, and City's steady, formidable consistency.
But City now enter as overwhelming favourites. Rado Vidosic's side have won nine matches consecutive, keeping six clean sheets in their last six. They have not conceded a goal in well over two months (to Sydney FC on December 8).
They are quite simply the best team in the Westfield W-League.
Meanwhile, the Wanderers are at a low ebb, even despite the fact 2019/20 has been by far the club's best-ever, and in all likelihood one in which they will contest the Finals Series for the first time.
The Red and Black have only won one of their last four matches – including 4-0 and 3-0 hammerings at the hands of Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC.
Denise O'Sullivan's departure in January following the end of her guest stint has verified belief the Irish midfielder is 'irreplaceable', in the words of teammate Kristen Hamilton.
The day after the Wanderers' crushing derby defeat, the club announced star import Lynn Williams had mutually terminated her contract having pledged her allegiance to the United States national team.
Compatriot and top-scorer Hamilton was red carded in last Saturday's 3-0 derby defeat to Sydney, key midfielder Ella Mastrantonio is also serving suspension, while goalkeeper Abby Smith and captain Erica Halloway are injured.
Heffernan is remaining defiant against mounting odds.
“It’s obviously a challenge where we are at, at the moment," he told the club website.
“We have lost quite a few key players, but the good thing is we have exciting, young fearless players to come in and fill the void.
“I am really keen to see how they step up. It’s a massive opportunity for us to bounce back and a massive opportunity for us to beat a team that hasn’t been beaten this season.
“They are a team that has six or seven Matildas and a stacked roster of visa players as well and we are looking forward to them coming.
“We hope they come at full strength because they are going to have to work for every inch when they come to Marconi.”
Heffernan acknowledged the absence of several key first-team players, but backed his under-pressure roster to deliver a response in Sydney's west.
“Obviously Kristen [Hamilton] and Ella [Mastrantonio] have been very important for us. Every day in training, every game they step up and give us everything they have,” he said.
“They’ll be missed, but it’s a huge opportunity for the girls who come in to show us what they have got leading into the Finals.
“It’s the same for all the girls in our squad. I know everything about them and that’s why I am so excited for the game because I know what these girls can produce. I know that physically they are ready.
“The amount of work they’ve done, I am sure no-one else has worked as hard as these girls this season especially the ones who are coming into this game now.
“There is nothing for them to fear.”
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Western Sydney Wanderers v Melbourne City
Thursday, 20 February 2020
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT