Western United will head to Australia’s capital for the first time, taking on Canberra United in another important Liberty A-League Women clash on Saturday.
Liberty A-League Women Round 12
Canberra United vs Western United
Saturday, 28 January
Kick-off: 3:00pm AEDT
McKellar Park, Canberra
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Western United will begin life without Jessica McDonald this weekend after the American returned home at the conclusion of her guest contract.
Young gun Kahli Johnson and recent signing Danielle Steer will be ready to step into the forward positions, while Tyla Jay Vlajnic will look to continue her goal-scoring form to make up for McDonald’s absence.
Angie Beard will also hope to feature among the front three positions as she continues to increase her fitness alongside Jaclyn Sawicki, with the pair having both appeared off the bench in the last two matches.
Stacey Papadopoulos will miss the clash and has been ruled out for approximately eight weeks after suffering a knee injury last week.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 5. Aimee MEDWIN, 6. Chloe LOGARZO, 7. Francesca IERMANO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 10. Kahli JOHNSON, 11. Emma ROBERS, 13. Danielle STEER, 14. Natasha DAKIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Melissa TARANTO, 18. Aleksandra SINCLAIR, 19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 20. Sydney CUMMINGS, 21. Hillary BEALL (gk), 22. Alana CERNE, 23. Angie BEARD
Last time out
Western United got back to winning ways last time out, claiming a 2-0 victory over Brisbane Roar at North Hobart Oval.
Hannah Keane opened the scoring just before the break before Vlajnic added the second soon after it, ensuring United bounced back from its first defeat of the season and remained on top of the league.
Despite an unexpected heavy defeat to bottom-placed Wellington Phoenix last week, Canberra United have enjoyed a solid 2022/23 Liberty A-League season so far.
Only the top four teams have scored more than Canberra, with legendary striker Michelle Heyman remaining in strong form having found the net five times so far this season.
With game in hand on teams above them, Canberra have their sights set on a place in the top four and will provide a very stern test for Mark Torcaso’s United outfit.
Key Matchup: Alana Cerne vs Michelle Heyman
In just her ninth professional appearance, Alana Cerne will face one of the toughest tests in the Liberty A-League when she comes up against Heyman, a striker 14 years her elder.
Heyman is the competition’s all-time leading goal scorer with 87 goals to her name and is also nearing the all-time appearance record, but this time around she will have to contend with Cerne and United’s league-leading defence.
Cerne returned to the side in last week’s win over Brisbane and was at her best once again, but she will need a repeat of that form to shut out Heyman and set her side up to win the match.
Player to Watch: Kahli Johnson
Johnson has been relishing increased opportunities at Western United so far this season having been limited to six substitute appearances at Sydney FC last term.
The teenager has featured in all but one game so far and has looked particularly lively in recent outings, picking up her first assist of the season against Western Sydney Wanderers two weeks ago.
Whether she starts or comes in off the bench, Johnson will be eager to continue making an impact and add further end product to her game.
Words from Mark Torcaso
On the options at his disposal to ensure McDonald’s departure is not felt
“Jess is a big person to fill in the squad. It was always going to be hard to replace a World Cup-winning player and player with Jess McDonald’s status.
“Someone like Kahli has been doing a fantastic job already and is really taking on all the information, and Angie and Dani are really exciting for us.”
On the threats Canberra pose, particularly going forward
“We think they’re going to be a good side. We’ve worked on a couple of their weaknesses, but we’ll focus on us. It’s going to be a good game, a tough game but we want to keep our record going.”