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ALW Match Preview: Western United vs Canberra United

Emma Robers Western United

Western United returns home in the Liberty A-League Women for a massive clash against Canberra United in Round 19.

Match Details

Liberty A-League Women Round 19

Western United vs Canberra United

Saturday, 25 March

Kick-off: 3:00pm AEDT

City Vista Pavilion and Sports Field, Plumpton

Broadcast: The match will be broadcast live and free on 10Play, and on Paramount+

Team News

Mark Torcaso has named two big inclusions in his 19-player extended squad for the match with Kahli Johnson and Stacey Papadopoulos returning to the side.

Johnson missed United’s last two matches on international duty with the Young Matildas, while Papadopoulos has not played in just over two months after suffering a knee injury.

Hannah Keane will be hoping to find the net again as she remains in the golden boot race, while Hillary Beall and the defence will be seeking another clean sheet.

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

Full Western United squad

Last time out

Western United fell to a defeat on the pitch last time out against Brisbane Roar, losing the match 2-0 before taking its final bye of the season last week.

That loss was overturned, however, after Brisbane fielded an ineligible player, resulting in an automatic 3-0 win and three points for United.

The Opponent

Canberra United are arguably the Liberty A-League’s most in-form team and are playing for a spot in the Finals Series heading into the last two weeks of the regular season.

Canberra have been boosted by the reinstatement of their three points for a win against Sydney FC last month, a result that was temporarily taken away from due to an extra substitution.

That leaves Njegosh Popovich’s side just two points off Melbourne Victory in fourth place after a run of six matches unbeaten following consecutive 5-0 defats in January, one of which was against Western United.

Michelle Heyman’s form has been integral to that run with seven goals across the six games taking her above Keane as the league’s top goal scorer.

Attacking midfielder Grace Jale also leads the way in terms of assists this season, making Canberra a formidable opposition and one that will provide Western United with a stern test on Saturday.

Key Matchup: Hannah Keane vs Michelle Heyman

There is a very obvious storyline on the pitch for this game as Keane and Heyman go up against each other in the race for the Liberty A-League golden boot.

Keane made her run earlier in the season with seven goals in January before Heyman has fired back over the course of the last two months.

Western United’s American No.9 will carry confidence from the brace that she scored against Canberra last time out while Heyman will approach the game in a buoyant mood given her relentless recent form.

With the league’s two most predatory forwards set to go head to head, whichever striker can find their range in front of goal could set their team on the way to a big win late in the season.

Player to Watch: Adriana Taranto

Adriana Taranto is a player that has flown under the radar for Western United this season and she will be looking to continue to perform at a high level.

The United star has four assists for the season and is just two off the league-leader in Jale, proving Taranto’s incredible creative instincts.

The No.15 has also scored herself in the 2022/23 campaign and will be hoping to create more goals for the team on the way to an important win in the penultimate regular season fixture.

Words from Mark Torcaso

On returning to City Vista for the first time in more than two months

“I’m very much looking forward to playing here again. To be able to play on our home ground, where we train and where we do everything, is going to be perfect for us.

“Obviously it’s good for the locals and the Western fans to come out and support us like they did in the first couple of games. Hopefully we get a couple of thousand (people), which will be fantastic.”

On Canberra’s form and limiting complacency after the 5-0 win last time out

“We haven’t even touched on when we played them last time. Canberra have hit a really good spell of form, they’ve come good at half-time and they’re a dangerous side.

“We’re not looking at when we played them last time, we’re just focused on what we’re going to do against them this time. We just need to make sure we’re ready.”

Words from the playing squad

Hear from Kahli Johnson ahead of the clash against Canberra United.