Wanderers on edge after Phoenix loss hits finals hopes

Joanna Guelas |

Emma Main (right) scored twice as Wellington rocked Western Sydney’s finals hopes in the ALW.
Emma Main (right) scored twice as Wellington rocked Western Sydney’s finals hopes in the ALW.

Western Sydney Wanderers’ A-League Women finals hopes are hanging by a thread after Wellington’s Emma Main scored twice to condemn them to a 2-0 loss.

A win at Porirua Park on Saturday afternoon would have guaranteed Wanderers’ place in the top six, but a goal in each half from Main means they could still be overhauled at the death by Melbourne Victory.

Robbie Hooker’s sixth-placed side will be holding their breath until the final whistle of Victory’s clash with league leaders Sydney FC on Sunday to find out their finals future.

Victory, in seventh, are level on points with the Wanderers, so a draw at Leichhardt Oval will be enough to snatch sixth as the regular season comes to a close.

In Brisbane, the Roar were denied a last hurrah for 2024 after two late goals – including one from newly recalled Matilda Michelle Heyman – turned the tables to secure a 2-1 win for visitors Canberra United.

Sitting ninth, with no prospect of making the finals, Wellington burst from the blocks against the Wanderers.

A poor pass from Western Sydney defender Alexia Apostolakis fell to Phoenix attacker Isabel Cox, who was denied by goalkeeper Sham Khamis in the sixth minute.

Cox continued to cause problems, and delivered a cross a minute later to Main, whose effort struck the post.

Main made no mistake in the 18th minute, heading home Manaia Elliott’s superbly delivered cross.

The 24-year-old Main snatched her first league double after getting the better of a one-on-one in the 55th minute.

“We will be on the plane (during the Sydney-Victory game) … so when we land, if we turn the phone on and there’s 1000 text messages, that means we’re in,” Wanderers coach Hooker said.

“If there’s nobody loving us, then we’re not going to be. It is what it is. Today, we weren’t good enough.”

Canberra United Michelle Heyman.
Michelle Heyman took her season’s tally to a league-record-equalling 17 goals with Canberra United. (Will Murray/AAP PHOTOS)

Brisbane were denied their first win over Canberra since February 2020 when two goals in as many minutes from Heyman and Vesna Milivojevic turned the match on its head just as a Roar victory seemed inevitable.

The home side were leading thanks to a headed goal from Jenna McCormick in the 43rd minute, who celebrated by kissed her ring finger in celebration of her engagement to teammate Hannah Holgersen, announced on Saturday.

But Heyman found the back of the net in the 84th minute before Milivojevic added a dramatic winner two minutes later.

Heyman’s strike equalled the league record of 17 goals in a single campaign, set by Matildas captain Sam Kerr in 2018/19 – when there were 10 fewer regular-season games.