Western Sydney beat Melbourne City 1-0 at Wanderers Football Park tonight to keep alive their finals hopes. A 71st minute winner from Leena Khamis, after a brilliant run from Teigan Collister, set up a well deserved win for a young team who are finding their feet.
1. Teigan Collister ran and ran and ran...then she ran some more
Collister has been exceptional in recent weeks, her blistering speed has been potent for the Wander Women. She is far more than a speedster though, her ability to make intelligent runs and get into good positions to provide an option for her team-mates, shows a footballer who has the intelligence to match her speed!
Her ball control is also solid. While her crossing has some room for improvement, the rest of her game is in perfect sync. Collister had 41 touches tonight and every one of them looked like they could create something.
Tonight, her powerful run set up Khamis’ winner. She started in her own half before teasing Emma Checker, turning the Matilda inside out, before sliding the ball to Khamis who gratefully despatched the ball into the net.
It was a major highlight of the game, and it came after she was winded by a heavy tackle only minutes earlier.
Equally impressive was her work in defence. She tracked back well, putting pressure on the City ball players. She made two tackles, has three intercepts and was involved in six duels. A fantastic all round performance from the Newcastle Jets recruit.
2. Melbourne City have lost their mojo
Teams are no longer intimidated by City. Tonight they were physical, conceding 23 fouls to eight. However, the Wander Women did not take a backward step.
Youngster Sarah Hunter copped plenty of treatment, but kept on bouncing back up. Collister herself was bundled over but never felt intimidated.
City just don’t have that same aura about them. The reigning champions still have plenty of star power, but a late start to their pre-season training has probably cost them. Rado Vidosic has plenty of work to do to revive the lagging spirit in his team.
3. Heffernan plan coming to fruition
Dean Heffernan has said all season there is a plan and it will come together. He has been proven right.
The energy the team has shown over the past month and a bit shows the enthusiasm and cohesion in the squad. They are a team determined to make a statement.
They have a number of avenues to goal. They have had more shots on goal than their opponents in all but three games this season. Even in games they have lost, they manage to get in goal scoring positions more often than not.
With Georgia Yeoman-Dale and Julie-Ann Russell on the right flank, and Collister and Danika Matos wreaking havoc on the left, Heffernan’s game plan to use the width of the pitch is paying off handsomely.
When they need to work hard in the middle he has two willing lieutenants in Sarah Hunter and Libby Copus-Brown. Both are terriers and go hard both ways.
With the experience of Caitlin Cooper and Nikola Orgill down back, there is plenty of insurance if things go wrong.
Its all coming together, but is it too late for a finals tilt? The next three games will show what the Wander Women are really made of!