The Wellington Phoenix have earned their first league point of their women’s A-League season, with a 1-1 draw against Western Sydney Wanderers.
The draw at Sky Stadium in Wellington snapped a run of five straight defeats in the Liberty A-League.
Michaela Robertson scored her maiden A-League goal to give the Nix a 1-0 halftime lead.
Main photo: Michaela Robertson (left) and Ava Pritchard celebrate taking the lead.
Wanderers equalised a quarter of an hour into the second-half and both sides had chances to win it in time added on.
But ultimately they were forced to settle for a share of the spoils and Wellington and Western Sydney remain level on points at the bottom of the competition ladder.
Coach Lawence: ‘ I think we did enough to win it’
Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence had mixed feelings after the match.
“I think we did enough to win it,” Lawrence told media post-game. “We had more shots, we had more crosses and we had more entries into the penalty box.
“I don’t think anyone would have had any complaints if we did win it, but I’m more happy that we didn’t lose.
“Getting a point helps us build. We wanted to start the new year continuing to build and more points will come.”
She was left to rue missed opportunities.
“It’s going to have to be something we continue to work on and get more clinical and a bit more composed.
“I think we get into those moments and lash out at the ball or lose our instincts a little bit and that probably happens when you’re not scoring heaps of goals.”
But Lawrence was proud how her side responded to Wanderers’ equaliser.
“When I look at that season-half and especially us pushing and pushing and pushing it shows the heart of the team.
“We’ve lost games but we’re not just happy with a point, we want to go for the win. That’s something we’re going to try and build on.”
Ferns pair late withdrawals from squad
Natalie Lawrence made two enforced changes to the XI which started their last match against Adelaide United before Christmas with Robertson and Milly Clegg replacing Football Ferns Paige Satchell (injured) and Emma Rolston (sick).
Clegg was a constant threat for the Phoenix down the right flank and had the first shot of the match in the opening minute, dragging an attempt wide from outside the box.
The 17-year-old earned the Phoenix a corner a few minutes later and the Wanderers almost headed the set piece into their own net.
Western Sydney came close to opening the scoring in the 13th minute when former Nix forward Cushla Rue pounced on a heavy touch from goalkeeper Brianna Edwards and shot narrowly wide of Edwards’ right-hand post.
Wellington were also able to scramble clear a handful of minutes later after Wanderers striker Sheridan Gallagher had got into a dangerous position.
The Phoenix started to regain control of the midfield and produced a promising passage of play just before the half hour mark, but unfortunately midfielder Grace Wisnewski slipped as she unleashed her shot.
Moments later centre back Mackenzie Barry blazed over the goal after winning possession high up the park.
Edwards’ fingertips denied Western Sydney the opening goal in the 38th minute. Wanderers fullback Danika Matos produced a curling shot from long-range that was bound for the top left-hand corner of Edwards’ goal until she intervened.
Shortly after Robertson put the Nix in front from a corner. She bundled the ball over the line at the back post after Wisnewski’s header rebounded off the crossbar.
Buoyed by her first goal in professional football, Robertson was a constant menace down the left flank at the start of the second-half as the Phoenix pressed for their second.
But Wellington weren’t able to find a way through the Wanderers’ defence and soon found themselves level.
Gallagher equalised a quarter of an hour into the second-half. She took her opportunity well after being put through on goal by impressive Western Sydney midfielder Amy Harrison.
There were few clear-cut goalscoring opportunities for either side for the next half an hour despite plenty of endeavour.
The best chances came right at the end of the 90 and in time added on.
Phoenix forward Ava Pritchard delivered an enticing cross in the 89th minute, but substitute Charlotte Lancaster wasn’t able to direct her header on target.
Nix midfielder Betsy Hassett launched a thunderous shot in stoppage time, but the Wanderers were able to get a body in the way.
Western Sydney midfielder Bethany Gordon came close to winning the match for the visitors at the death, but Edwards managed to turn her shot around the post to ensure both sides collected a point.
The Wellington Phoenix women have a short turn-around. They are back in action on Saturday when they will visit table-topping newcomers Western United.
Game played on Monday January 2, 2023
Welllington Phoenix 1 (Michaela Robertson 41′)
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Sheridan Gallagher 60′)
12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 2. Saskia VOSPER (17. Claudia CICCO 68th), 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 7. Chloe KNOTT (c), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI (15. Zoe MCMEEKEN 90th), 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 11. Betsy HASSETT, 14. Michaela ROBERTSON (18. Te Reremoana WALKER 81st), 20. Milly CLEGG (19. Charlotte LANCASTER 68th), 21. Michaela FOSTER.
Unused substitutes: 22. Georgia CANDY (gk).
Western Sydney Wanderers
1. Jordyn BLOOMER (gk), 5. Lauren KEIR, 7. Amy HARRISON (25. Holly CASPERS 74th), 9. Sophie HARDING, 11. Danika MATOS, 14. Clare HUNT (c), 15. Cushla RUE (13. Jitka CHLASTAKOVA 82nd), 16. Malia STEINMETZ, 17. Sheridan GALLAGHER (8. Olivia PRICE 74th), 21. Alexia APOSTOLAKIS, 32. Bethany GORDON.
Unused substitutes: 20. Shamiran KHAMIS (gk), 23. Ella ABDUL MASSI.
17. Sheridan GALLAGHER (Western Sydney Wanderers) – yellow – 30th
8. Grace WISNEWSKI (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 86th