The Western Sydney Wanderers have saved their best for last with a late win over Perth Glory to end the Westfield W-League season on a high and leapfrog Perth to finish seventh on the ladder.
Despite the 2-0 score line, the Red & Black made it hard for themselves as Erica Halloway’s goal of the season contender and Hannah Beard's impressive effort both came in the final four minutes of the match.
Popondetta Park played host as both teams – who were out of finals contention – threw caution to the wind, creating an entertaining spectacle in front of 583 spectators.
While Wanderers had the best of the first half it was Perth who could have scored first as Carla Bennett’s cross found Caitlin Doeglas in the box but the winger’s shot went wide of the goal via a deflection.
From then on it was all Wanderers with Erica Halloway the main instigator. Playing her first season of Westfield W-League, Halloway has been one of the highlights of the Wanderers’ squad and today was no different as she tore up her opposing number on the wing.
Despite Halloway’s efforts, the Wanderers couldn’t convert despite multiple opportunities.
All the while, Perth were biding their time deep in defence only to launch counter-attacked through the dangerous Vanessa Di Bernardo: at times seemingly the only Perth player attacking.
While a conservative strategy, it almost paid off a number of times with only last-ditch saves by Wanderers keeper Teagan Micah denying Di Bernardo.
The second half opened no differently with the Red & Black on constant attack and Perth dangerous on the counter-attack.
It should have been ironic then when Wanderers crafted the best chance of the entire match when they countered one of Perth’s rare forays forward, only to miss the golden opportunity to open the scoring.
Receiving the ball with most of Perth having pushed forward, Liz Grey turned her marker and fed Ellie Carpenter who sped into acres of space.
The wing-back then cut inside the only defender in the box and looked certain to score her maiden Westfield W-League goal only to put the ball into the side-netting.
Carpenter’s miss seemed to take the wind out of the Wanderers’ sails as Perth responded in impressive fashion. With Perth pressing high and with intensity, the Red & Black couldn’t find a way out of their own half.
While Perth had temporarily gained the ascendency, they were still lacking in clear cut chances so no-one was able to begrudge the Wanderers when they scored one of the goals of the season with only four minutes remaining.
Receiving the ball out wide, Alix Roberts drove into space and delivered a pin-point cross to player of the match, Erica Halloway.
Hitting the ball first-time and on the volley, Halloway’s strike gave the on-rushing goalkeeper no chance: sailing over her head and into the back of the net.
A goal worthy of winning any game and nothing less than Halloway deserved after such an impressive match.
Perth’s heads dropped and the win was sealed two minutes into additional time as Hannah Beard received the ball back to goal before shooting on the turn to beat the keeper on the near post.
The season now ends for both teams with Wanderers overtaking Perth Glory to end the season in seventh position.
It also ends another healthy season off the pitch for Western Sydney as their crowds grew for the fourth straight year: their home crowds averaging over 1,000 for the first time in their history.