Western United kept its perfect record in the Liberty A-League Women intact with a 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix at City Vista on Saturday afternoon.
In hot conditions out in the West, United found the goal with 12 minutes to play as Tyla Jay Vlajnic leapt to head home Melissa Taranto’s free-kick.
The Green and Black held on for its second clean sheet of the season and another vital three points ahead of a tough test against Sydney FC on Wednesday night.
There was just the one change to Mark Torcaso’s starting XI as Aimee Medwin came in at left-back with Julia Sardo dropping out of the squad entirely.
Chloe Logarzo was rested ahead of a clash against her former side Sydney FC on Wednesday and Vlajnic returned to the substitute’s bench after missing last week’s win over Perth Glory.
Western United brought much of the early pressure with a series of early corners, but Wellington defended strongly to ensure the hosts had no looks at goal.
Wellington then began to work themselves into the game after the first 10 minutes and had some encouraging spells of possession to move out of their defensive third.
With neither side overly polished on the ball but relatively sturdy in defence, the game turned largely into fight for sustained possession as transition moments dominated proceedings.
United did have the best two chances of the opening half, though, with both of them falling to Hannah Keane from close range.
The first followed some nice link-up play on the left wing as Jessica McDonald sent a cross towards the back post, but Keane couldn’t direct her header inside the post as she stretched to reach it.
United’s No.9 was played in behind by a splendid Emma Robers ball minutes later and saw multiple efforts thwarted by the Wellington goalkeeper as she couldn’t force the ball into the back of the net.
That meant both sides went into the break without a goal, meaning United went into half-time level in the sixth straight Liberty A-League Women game.
Vlajnic came off the bench at half-time and injected some pace into the left-hand side and nearly put United ahead early in the second half.
McDonald and Stacey Papadopoulos linked up down the right flank and the latter stood up a cross into the box which Vlajnic came bursting through to meet, but her header just flew past the woodwork.
Vlajnic was involved again around the hour mark, this time with her opposite right foot with a strike that fizzed into the keeper’s midriff as United continued to toil fruitlessly in search of the opening goal.
The began to pick up and favoured Wellington, making it more difficult for United to build out of defence and clear lines out of defence.
In the end the goal came from a rather simple source as Taranto floated a deep free kick towards the penalty area, and Vlajnic was rewarded for her impact with another headed chance, this time putting the ball the right side of the post to take the lead.
Wellington increased the pressure in the final 10 minutes and swung a number of dangerous looking balls into the box, but Hillary Beall was on hand to rid any danger and helped United see out the win, keeping the Green and Black at the top of the table.