The biggest match in the Westfield W-League lived up to expectations as a record crowd of 3,084 were on hand at Marconi Stadium to watch the Sydney derby between Western Sydney Wanderers and Sydney FC.
In what may just have been the match of the season so far, the Sky Blues kept their 100% record against their cross-city rivals with goals from import Jasmyne Spencer and Amy Harrison sealing a 2-0 victory.
Sydney FC were without defender Teigen Allen through suspension while the Wanderers heralded the return of last season’s Player of the Year Linda O’Neill and the debuts of American Kendall Johnson, former Sydney FC goalkeeper Sham Khamis and local junior Victoria Guzman.
Both sets of supporters were in full voice with the Red & Black Bloc and Cove attempting to out-sing each other; a battle that was replicated on the pitch.
True to form the Derby was a collection of hard hits, on field tension and controversial decisions and it was the home team who started brightest when arguably the best player in the league, Keelin Winters, set-up Hannah Beard who looked like scoring until former Wanderer Alesha Clifford’s last ditch tackle denied the American.
It was an ominous sign for the Sky Blue who had to repel attack after attack but got the ultimate reward when Jasmyne Spencer followed up her long-range shot, which was initially saved by Khamis, to hit the rebound past the diving keeper.
Having been an even battle up to that point, neither side dropped their intensity and it didn’t take long for the Wanderers to try to hit back as Jessica Seaman’s goal bound shot was deflected wide for a corner.
It was Western Sydney, and Helen Petinos in particular, who began the second half full of running. Whatever it was that coach Norm Boardman said at half time was proving effective as the Red & Black forced Sydney FC deep into their own territory with wave after wave of attack.
Petinos came the closest with a curling shot that floated just wide of the far post but there was an air of confidence amongst the home crowd who felt that a goal was just around the corner.
It should have come too just a minute later as Sydney FC’s keeper Casey Dumont rushed out of her goal and, running straight through Petinos, absolutely flattened the pacey striker in the box. The expected penalty though did not come as the referee waved play-on to the shock of those on the pitch and in the stands.
It was to prove a costly decision for the Wanderers as Sydney FC went straight up the pitch for Amy Harrison to score Sydney’s second after some lovely passing interplay with her teammates.
It was a cruel blow to the Wanderers who had taken the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half though while it was against the run of play there could be no arguments as to the aesthetic qualities of the Sky Blue’s build-up.
Following the send-off of the Linda O’Neill for a second bookable offence shortly after, the Wanderers looked rattled for the first time all match as the final ten minutes turned into a midfield stalemate with no real scoring chances of note.
The Sky Blues now look towards next week’s match against Melbourne Victory hoping to gain revenge for their semi-final loss last season while the Wanderers will be looking forward to their match against Perth Glory after having to play the top three teams in the first three rounds.
Sydney FC 2 (Jasmyne Spencer 12', Amy Harrison 60')
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Referee: Kirralee Andruschak
Assistants: Sarah Ho & Liz Shorter