Western United’s Liberty A-League Women squad played out a solid first pre-season friendly on Tuesday night, defeating the Football Victoria State Team 1-0 at The Home of the Matildas.
In a shortened match, United asserted its dominance from the outset but couldn’t find the breakthrough until early in the second period when Emma Robers thundered a strike into the top corner from outside the box.
A breadth of players in the squad were exposed to valuable pre-season minutes and the side will look to push on in pre-season over the coming weeks.
Western United exerted all of the early pressure, immediately looking to get into the final third and break down Victoria’s defence.
Adriana Taranto was a handful as she looked to arrive alongside Hannah Keane with late runs from midfield.
Keane created the game’s first and clearest opening on five minutes when she got in behind the defence on the left-hand side. The American’s cutback skidded off the dewy surface and Robers couldn’t adjust in time to get a meaningful contact on the ball.
United sustained the pressure from there but Victoria were able to repel any balls in the box before settling into the game thereafter, though United continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession.
Victoria had a couple of half chances in quick succession when United gave possession away allowing Danielle Wise to strike at goal, but Alyssa Dall’Oste was well placed to hold both attempts comfortably in her grasp.
The Green and Black was largely limited to speculative long-range efforts for the remainder of the first half, with Robers coming closest with a grass-cutter that just couldn’t curl enough inside the right-hand upright.
Grace Maher and Natasha Dakic marshalled the defence expertly while an intriguing battle emerged between Stacey Papadopolous and Alana Cortellino down the flank with the two speedsters looking to get the better of each other.
Ultimately, both defences remained stout and there was no route to goal for either time in the first half, leaving another 35 minutes for the sides to go again.
Helen Winterburn made a couple of changes at the break with Keiwa Hieda and Silver Bell Morris coming on for the second half.
The former immediately picked up where she had left off in the NPLW Victoria season with Calder United, looking to get at defenders on the dribble and make things happen in the final third.
Western United continued to boss possession and sought to add further pressure onto Victoria’s goal in search of the game’s opener.
That came within 10 minutes of the restart as the Green and Black continued to assert its dominance, penning Victoria back in the final third.
After United built the play down the right wing, the ball came back to Robers at the top of the box and she needed only one touch for a trademark strike from long distance.
Robers’ strike was goal bound as soon as it left her boot, curling into the top right corner to give Western United the lead.
From there, Victoria continued to defend deep and United had all of the possession, with Dall’Oste hard pressed to get a touch of the ball throughout the entire second period.
All told it was a pleasing first hit out for Western United players and coaches alike as the side continues to build up to the Liberty A-League season opener, which now looms just over two weeks away.