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What went right, what went wrong vs Western Sydney Wanderers

Adelaide United climbed into equal second on the Liberty A-League 2021/22 ladder after a dominant 3-0 away win over Western Sydney Wanderers at Marconi Stadium on Friday night.

Chelsie Dawber scored a second-half brace after Kayla Sharples helped bundle the ball over the line from a corner inside five minutes.

The result is Adelaide’s first-ever away triumph over the Wanderers and first clean sheet on the road since November 2018.

WHAT WENT RIGHT. WHAT WENT WRONG.

What went wrong: Delayed start

A ‘sink hole’ threatened to bring a halt to proceedings before they had even begun at Marconi Stadium, when a small area of the pitch was completely flooded due to a reported leaky sprinkler. Fortunately, courtesy of the hasty work of the groundskeeper – demonstrating his resourceful horticultural skills – kick-off was only delayed by approximately 25 minutes and the match could proceed without incident.

What went right: Early goal opens the contest up

Against a defensively resolute outfit in Western Sydney, the contest had all the hallmarks of being a closely-fought battle. In the build-up, Adrian Stenta anticipated the side that would capitalise on a rare opportunity would likely clinch the three points. However, that logical thought process was dispelled once Kayla Sharples got on the end of a recycled corner, which Fiona Worts crossed in, and was flicked on by Chelsie Dawber for the American at the far post in the fifth minute. The match became an end-to-end affair with an abundance of chances at both ends. United finished with 27 shots with only 10 on target, while the hosts had three that tested Annie Grove.

What went right: Reds’ intensity sublime

The Reds repeatedly forced the Wanderers into turnovers and their pressure was simply relentless, executing a perfect high-pressing game plan. Adelaide’s front players barely gave Western Sydney time and space on the ball and their second goal came as a direct result of Dylan Holmes dispossessing her opponent by poking the ball away for Fiona Worts, who released Chelsie Dawber.

What went right: Dawber at the double

Chelsie Dawber ended her two-game goalless drought with another clinically taken brace. Both goals assisted by Fiona Worts and Reona Omiya respectively – arrived in similar fashion. They were both one-on-one finishes which were sent across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner – a sign that the 22-year-old has a natural eye for goal. Those goals mean she has enjoyed her most prolific season with six now for the campaign, beating her previous record of five achieved in 2020/21. And dating back to last season, Dawber has netted 11 goals in her past 13 Liberty A-League matches. A phenomenal return for someone certainly in the mix for a future Matildas call-up.

What went right: Up to equal second

With five wins on the campaign and 15 points after eight matches, the Reds provisionally jump into equal second on the table – level with Melbourne City. Despite playing one more game than City and two more than Melbourne Victory – who they leapfrogged, Adelaide will remain in the top four and finally qualify for finals if they continue to collect maximum points.

What went right: Annie Grove’s best performance in goal

Annie Grove was sensational in what was arguably her finest performance for the Reds to date. The goalkeeper spectacularly denied Alexandra Huynh with an instinctive reflex save to preserve Adelaide’s slender lead before half-time. She also commanded her area expertly, claiming several crosses and was convincing when receiving back passes and clearing any imminent danger. While, the Wanderers have had their struggles in front of goal, they showed more attacking purpose than in their previous fixtures and the Reds managed to safely negotiate each foray forward. The 20-year-old will only improve the more games she plays after keeping a second consecutive clean sheet. It is the first time the South Australians have kept their opponents scoreless in back-to-back games since November 2018.

What went wrong: Holmes’ head knock

Dylan Holmes had to be replaced in the 77th minute after an accidental clash of heads with Caitlin Cooper. Holmes appeared to be in some discomfort and underwent a concussion test as per the protocols. Fingers crossed she will be okay for the Reds’ next game at Coopers Stadium next Friday night.

Match details:
Friday, 28 January
Liberty A-League 2021/22 – Matchweek 9
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Adelaide United 3 (Sharples 5’, Dawber 55’, 87’)
Venue: Marconi Stadium
Attendance: 515