Western United will enter a mammoth top of the table Liberty A-League Women clash against Sydney FC on Sunday afternoon.
Liberty A-League Women Round 16
Sydney FC vs Western United
Sunday, 5 March
Kick-off: 4:00pm AEDT
Netstrata Jubilee Stadium, Sydney
Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+
Mark Torcaso could hand a Western United debut to new signing Tiana Jaber with the full-back included in the extended squad for the first time.
Kahli Johnson will miss the clash due to international duty with the Young Matildas while Tyla Jay Vlajnic and Jaclyn Sawicki should return to normal workloads after reduced minutes last week.
Western United squad: 1. Alyssa DALL’OSTE (gk), 3. Silver Bell MORRIS, 4. Jaclyn SAWICKI, 7. Francesca IERMANO, 9. Hannah KEANE, 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, 24. Julia SARDO, 25. Tiana JABER
Ins: 3. Silver Bell MORRIS, 7. Francesca IERMANO, 25. Tiana JABER (new signing)
Outs: 10. Kahli JOHNSON (international duty)
Unavailable: 2. Stacey PAPADOPOULOS (injured), 5. Aimee MEDWIN (injured), 12. Harriet Withers (injured)
Last time out
Western United was at its scintillating best last weekend, putting on a show to defeat Newcastle Jets 6-0, the side’s biggest win in the competition so far.
First-half braces from Johnson and Vlajnic set the tone before Danielle Steer and Hannah Keane completed the scoring, with a big boost to the team’s goal difference.
Sydney FC have been a powerhouse in the Liberty A-League and remain two-time reigning Premiers while fighting for a third successive crown this season.
The Sky Blues are set to welcome back top scorer Madison Haley to add to an attack full of firepower including capped Matildas Cortnee Vine and Princess Ibini.
Ante Juric’s side will once again provide Western United with a stern assignment for what looms as a richly entertaining fixture.
Key Matchup: Jaclyn Sawicki vs Sarah Hunter
Sawicki did not feature in Western United’s previous meeting with Sydney FC, a 2-0 win to the Green and Black in early January.
The Philippines star returned to action in the following game and has now played in seven matches in a row since recovering from her knee injury.
United’s captain continues to increase her match sharpness but has already shown herself to be one of the league’s most eye-catching midfielders with technique and skill on the ball, and tenacity off it.
She will come up against Sydney’s Sarah Hunter who has started every game for the Sky Blues and scored four goals from midfield.
At just 19 years of age, Hunter continues to be a league-leading central midfielder and Sawicki will need to be on form to win the midfield battle and help United win the game.
Player to Watch: Angie Beard
Much like Sawicki, Angie Beard just missed United’s last match against Sydney FC having only arrived at the Club days prior to the match.
Beard has since come into the team and immediately reclaimed her place as one of the best players in the Liberty A-League, turning in a season-best performance last time out against Newcastle.
The 25-year-old has brought energy and quality down the left flank with equal ability to create chances up front and keep her opponent at bay on the defensive end.
Beard will be ready to face Sydney for the first time this season and if she can continue her outstanding performances, the No.23 could be key to United getting a result from this match.
Words from Mark Torcaso
On last week’s performance and result and his pride while watching from home
“It was a great performance by the players, and by the staff too. It was a really challenging week but they stood up to it and obviously we got a fantastic result.
“Lots of credit needs to go to the players, and also to all the staff that made it still work. The three points was well deserved, very happy and very proud.”
On Sydney FC as an opponent and on the occasion in the context of the Premiership race
“There’s no doubt, I think they’re the best side in the competition. At full strength they are very, very dangerous. We have to be on our best game.
“When we played here months ago we had a really good night and played very well. This week, it’s a game for us – yes, there’s a bit of a title around it as the potential Premier’s Plate game, but for us it’s just three points that we need to focus on.”