Western United returned to the winner’s circle in the Liberty A-League Women on Sunday afternoon, defeating Brisbane Roar 1-0 at Ballymore Stadium.
Kahli Johnson scored the only goal of the game, nudging in Chloe Logarzo’s corner with her torso at the back post in the 10th minute.
United’s No.10 nearly had a second late on as both sides created chances to score, but Hillary Beall returned in her season debut to keep a first clean sheet of the season and help secure all three points.
Mark Torcaso made four changes to the starting XI, welcoming Beall back into the line-up for her first appearance since rejoining the Club this season.
Lucy Richards came in for her first ever professional start, forming a front three alongside Hannah Keane and Johnson as Torcaso tinkered with the structure of his team.
Fresh from an ankle knock from last week, Melissa Taranto replaced her sister Adriana midfield and Julia Sardo came in at the back as Tyla Jay Vlajnic missed with a minor groin issue.
Brisbane had the bulk of the play in the opening stages, finding a lot of joy down their left-hand side and keeping the pressure on United’s defence.
After a couple of close shaves from corners and some risky playing out of the back, United eventually cleared its lines and set about getting back on the front foot.
An excellent piece of pressing saw Logarzo win the ball in the box and cut it back for Keane to strike, with the American drawing a brilliant save from Brisbane goalkeeper Jordan Silkowitz.
United stayed on the front foot and after defending Brisbane’s set pieces well at the other end, it was a corner that brought about the first goal of the game as Logarzo’s delivery made it all the way to the back post where Johnson was waiting to nudge it in.
The visitors pushed on in search of a second and came close to finding it in quick time when Silkowitz spilled the ball to Logarzo outside the box, but United’s captain couldn’t get a shot away in time as Brisbane recovered.
In a topsy turvy first half, Brisbane got back on the front foot and Kijah Stephenson missed out narrowly on netting the equaliser, firing just wide of the right-hand post with her left-footed effort after being played through by Mia Corbin.
After the chaos of the first half, the second period was rather tame in comparison as the sides sought more control in the game.
That development in the game suited United better than the hosts with possession in the Green and Black’s favour, the midfield trio working particularly well to keep hold of the ball.
Neither side had any major chances on goal until Keiwa Hieda came off the bench for United to create a bit of havoc in the final third.
Her first effort was flicked just wide from a Johnson cross after some brilliant work down United’s left wing, Hieda just unable to direct her improvised effort on target.
She was in the thick of things moments later when she got on the end of a clipped pass from Sardo. The ball sat up perfectly for Hieda to strike on the bounce, but in going for power she just didn’t quite have the placement and it flashed wide of the left-hand post.
It was a combative contest with strong challenges coming in from both sides as Brisbane began to throw everything at an equaliser and United sought to hold onto the lead.
Despite Brisbane’s prerogative to go forward, it was actually Western United that came closest to scoring in the final 10 minutes and it was only thanks to a brilliant save from Silkowitz to thwart Johnson after she was picked out in the centre of the box by Keane.
Beall was alert to a late Tameka Yallop free-kick and clutched onto a clean sheet, United’s first of the Liberty A-League season as Torcaso’s side picked up a valuable three points.