Western United won through to an historic maiden Liberty A-League Women Grand Final on Saturday night, defeating Sydney FC 1-0 in the Semi-Final.
Hannah Keane struck the telling blow with a delicately controlled volley in the 26th minute before a series of heroic defensive actions kept United ahead throughout the match.
Mark Torcaso’s side battled through the final nerve-wracking stages to hold onto the result and book a ticket to the Grand Final on Sunday 30 April.
There was one change to Mark Torcaso’s line-up from Western United’s final regular season match two weeks ago, with Emma Robers making her return from injury.
The No.11 came straight into the starting XI in place of Jaclyn Sawicki who started on the bench having arrived back home from international duty late on in the week.
Both teams were eager to come out of the blocks quickly and exert their intensity on the match with plenty of early turnovers, strong tackles and half chances.
Sydney had the early edge in the momentum battle with their pace up front looking to cause United problems, but Hillary Beall was up to the task to save Cortnee Vine’s effort, the best chance of the opening 15 minutes.
United weathered that momentum and largely limited Sydney to corners or shots that went straight into Beall’s arms as the midfield worked hard to cover ground and eliminate passing lanes into the forwards.
The Green and Black then began to work its way further into the contest and rewarded the defence for their efforts in keeping Sydney out with a sumptuous opening goal.
Combining down the right-hand side, Robers fed Johnson along the wing and the No.10 swung a delightful cross into the box which Keane met with a clinical waist-high volley, burying it into the bottom corner.
Sydney would have the biggest chance of the rest of the first half when Vine drove narrowly wide in the closing stages as United took the lead into the break.
United got on the front foot early with a second goal on the minds as Keane was in the thick of the action across the final third.
Madison Haley came off the bench for Sydney and nearly made an immediate impact when Vine picked her out with a cutback, but the American’s shot was always curling wide of the left-hand post.
There remained plenty of fire in the contest with challenges flying in and physical battles at set pieces as neither side was willing to give an inch.
As the game wore on, United became more content with sitting back and soaking up pressure, inviting Sydney to control more possession as the second period continued.
The home side began to flourish in that respect with the likes of Haley and Princess Ibini putting Beall’s goal under significant pressure.
But as it has done time and time again this season, Western United dug deep and fought out an incredible victory, ensuring this history-making season has one more chapter left.