A new era begins at Western United as Kat Smith takes charge of her first match as Liberty A-League Women Head Coach, with the Green and Black facing Adelaide United.
Liberty A-League Women Round 7
Adelaide United vs Western United
Saturday, 9 December
Kick-off: 4:00pm AEDT
Marden Sports Complex, Adelaide
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Smith has named her first extended squad as Western United manager and could welcome back a key player with Tyla Jay Vlajnic in line for selection.
Vlajnic missed United’s last two matches with a groin problem and has taken the extra week off over the international break to get herself fit to return.
Chloe Logarzo and Jaclyn Sawicki will lead the team once again as the entire squad looks to impress the new boss and earn minutes on the pitch.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 12. Lucy RICHARDS, 13. Avaani PRAKASH, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Grace MAHER, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Keiwa HIEDA, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 24. Julia SARDO
Full Western United squad
Last time out
Western United fell to a 2-0 defeat against Western Sydney Wanderers last time out, failing to capitalise on large spells of dominance before conceding twice late on.
The side has taken the past two weeks to recover from that game and with Smith getting to work over the past week, the players will be eager to respond.
Adelaide United have had a tough start to the season so far, failing to win any of their first six Liberty A-League matches.
Having come third in the 2021/22 season, the Reds will be eager to discover some of that form and pick up a first victory to rise up the table.
The return of star forward Chelsie Dawber gave them a big boost at the start of the season while Alana Jancevski’s signing was a shrewd one after she shone for Perth Glory last season.
Adrian Stenta will be hoping his key players can stand up in front of a home crowd to provide United with a tough assignment to pick up points.
Key Matchup: Grace Maher vs Chelsie Dawber
Grace Maher has taken to life at Western United like a duck to water, immediately slotting into the defence and becoming one of the side’s most important players.
With her quality and leadership as vice-captain, Maher has been a force at the back and will look to exert her dominance against Dawber, one of the league’s most exciting attackers.
In that third-placed finish in 2021/22, Dawber struck 10 goals for Adelaide and earned herself moves to the United States and Sweden while returning to Adelaide in between.
Getting off the mark with an assist in her first game of the season last time out, Dawber will come into this one full of confidence on home soil.
But Maher will have other ideas and if United’s No.18 is at the top of her game, she will be hoping to shut Dawber out and help her side secure a win on the road.
Player to Watch: Hannah Keane
Hannah Keane conquered all before her last season, but Adelaide United was just one of two teams that she is yet to score against in the Liberty A-League – not counting Central Coast Mariners, who she has not yet faced.
With that in mind, United’s No.9 will no doubt be fired up to add the Reds to her list of scalps and to start building her goal tally for the season.
Opening her account in the 2-2 draw against Melbourne City in Round 3, Keane will be eager to hit the back of the net and gather some momentum in front of goal this season.
With Smith pledging to play attacking football in her regime, there are bound to be opportunities aplenty for Keane and she will be waiting to deliver for her side.
Words from Kat Smith
On the positivity and intensity of the group in her first week with the Club
“The vibe has been really positive. The girls have really embraced new challenges that we’re putting to them.
“They’re navigating change really, really well, so we’re really keen to see that transfer to Saturday’s game.”
On prioritising team performance and guarding against any complacency in this match
“It’s difficult when you don’t get the runs on the board early in this league, but each team is navigating the extended season and taking the time to establish their principals.
“We’re going to be the same, especially with this change. Our focus is going to be on ourselves and establishing what we do really well, and then it’s up to other teams to chase us.”