Westfield W-League 2018/19 report card: Western Sydney Wanderers
Western Sydney Wanderers have never made the finals since making their Westfield W-League debut in season 2012/13
So, when the club announced a range of promising off-season acquisitions, including Elizabeth Addo, the returning Lo’eau LaBonta and Georgia Yeoman-Dale, expectations were certainly raised.
But could new boss Dan Barrett help the Wanderers kick on to a maiden top four berth?
Western Sydney Wanderers
Record: 1W, 1D, 10L
Top scorer: Kylie Ledbrook (3 goals)
Most appearances: Erica Halloway, Kylie Ledbrook – 12 games
With a new head coach in Barrett and a raft of new recruits, the Wanderers had the chance to make Round 1's Sydney Derby against Sydney FC a statement of intent.
The Red and Black succeeded in that venture, but not in the fashion they would have wanted - falling to a 3-0 loss to their rivals at Marconi Stadium.
They should have got at least a point out of their next match, at home to Brisbane Roar, but some heroics from Roar goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold meant the Wanderers went down 1-0.
A 3-0 loss away to Perth Glory before another heartbreaking 1-0 loss, this time to Newcastle Jets, left the Red and Black with no points after four matches.
A valiant 2-1 loss in Victoria to eventual Premiers Melbourne Victory showed there was some life in the Wanderers and they put it to full use when they welcomed Canberra United to Spotless Stadium in Round 6.
Western Sydney twice came from behind to hold United to a 2-2 draw with goals from Leena Khamis and Kylie Ledbrook cancelling out an Ellie Carpenter effort and an unfortunate own-goal from Servet Uzunlar.
The Wanderers would fail to build on the positives however, succumbing to the Roar 3-1 at Dolphins Stadium and then failing to capitalise on a sluggish Melbourne City, falling 2-1 to a late Adriana Jones goal.
Another 3-0 Sydney Derby loss followed and with only three games remaining, the Wanderers faced the very real prospect of finishing the season without a win to their game.
Next up was away to Adelaide United and whatever was said in the change rooms beforehand clearly worked with the Wanderers pulling off a remarkable result, channelling all their frustration into a 4-1 demolition of the Reds.
The rest of the season didn’t go nearly as well however as the Red and Black were soundly beaten 5-1 at home to Perth and 4-1 on the road against the Jets, drawing a curtain on a frustrating season.
Despite only winning one match the Wanderers put in a few good performances that went unrewarded.
But the highlight was very clearly Round 12's big win at Adelaide.
The rout began with Rachel Lowe's pinpoint header and although Reds top gun Veronica Latsko equalised for the Reds on the stroke of the interval, the Wanderers flexed their muscles in the second half.
Elizabeth Addo won a penalty on the hour-mark, expertly converted by Kylie Ledbrook before Erica Halloway unleashed a deadly strike to make the game safe in injury time.
They weren’t done yet however as Addo put the icing on the cake in the 97th minute, capping a remarkable performance.
In a poor season for the Wanderers, individual players weren’t prevented from putting in good performances.
Kylie Ledbrook was one such player, arriving in the off-season from fierce rivals Sydney, and the midfielder slotted in perfectly and contributed a team-high three goals as well as playing all 12 matches.
Elizabeth Addo did well in her first season in Australia too, the on-loan Seattle Reign striker managing two goals in eight appearances.
Teenage midfielder Courtney Nevin made an impact on the Westfield W-League in her first season.
The 17-year old made nine appearances, picked up an assist and wasn’t fazed by the step-up to senior football, becoming a glint of light in an otherwise gloomy season.
It's hard to find too many positives for the Wanderers from 2018/19.
They only won a single game and conceded 30 goals in just 12 matches.
However, they should have capitalised on several of their strong performances and their 4-1 thumping of Adelaide showed just what they were capable of in full flight.
Further strengthening, particular in defence, should see an improvement in 2019/20 while a baptism of fire for some of the young brigade will serve them well in the coming seasons.