Western United advances to ALW grand final with 1-0 win over Sydney FC

Hannah Keane's goal against Sydney FC has put newcomers Western United into the ALW grand final.

Hannah Keane's goal against Sydney FC has put newcomers Western United into the ALW grand final. Photo: AAP

Ante Juric insisted Cortnee Vine was fit to play after Sydney FC was upset by A-League Women newcomers Western United, which claimed a 1-0 win to reach the grand final in its inaugural season.

Hannah Keane’s 26th-minute goal was the difference between the two sides in Sunday’s semi-final, with the forward sending her side to the decider at Parramatta’s CommBank Stadium on April 30.

Sydney will play off with Melbourne Victory on Saturday to get there, and will need Vine firing on all cylinders if it is to have the chance to avenge Western.

Vine, who is arguably the best Australian player in the ALW, was unable to hit top gear against United after returning to Sydney on Friday following the Matildas’ victory over England.

The 25-year-old sustained a calf strain while overseas and Juric, who took a thinly veiled dig at the national team set-up, said he had no concern selecting her at Allianz Stadium.

“She was fit, but I did have issues when she played against England,” Juric said.

“That’s five games in 16 days. I can’t comprehend that.

“She seemed OK and we got the all-clear to play her.”

Juric said it was initially planned that Vine would play 45 minutes but he told her to “put her hand up if she struggled a little bit”.

She came off with half an hour left on an evening of toil for Sydney’s attack against a resolute Western defence.

Western was feeding off scraps but Keane showed her calmness when she grabbed her 14th goal of the campaign in the first half.

Princess Ibini, Mackenzie Hawkesby and American forward Madison Haley all fluffed good chances or were denied by Western goalkeeper Hillary Beall.

“It’s unbelievable, 12 of our girls hadn’t been exposed to an A-League environment (before this season),” Western coach Mark Torcaso said.

“We knew we might not be overly entertaining in the way that we play, but we were definitely going to give a fight.”

Torcaso said left back Angie Beard, who is expected to play for the Philippines at this year’s World Cup, had sprained her ankle but would be fit for the grand final.

Sydney will next face Victory, which has beaten it in the past two grand finals.

“You’ve got to look at the bright side of things – we’re playing next week,” Juric said.

“We refresh and we go again and if we get through that then we will have some momentum.”


Stay informed, daily
A FREE subscription to The New Daily arrives every morning and evening.
The New Daily is a trusted source of national news and information and is provided free for all Australians. Read our editorial charter
Copyright © 2024 The New Daily.
All rights reserved.