Adelaide United have ground out a hard fought 1-0 A-League Women victory over Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium on Friday night.
Both sides were forced to battle it out in sweltering conditions with the temperature hovering around 32 degrees for much of the contest.
Adelaide made a bright start and their best chance of the first half came in just the second minute when the Reds had two opportunities in quick succession.
The Phoenix cleared a corner from Fiona Worts, but the ball fell to Nano Sasaki who volleyed first time from the edge of the area, forcing Wellington keeper Lily Afeld to tip around the post.
From the resulting corner, again whipped in by Worts, Kayla Sharples rose highest and headed goal bound but again Afeld was up to the task and kept the ball out.
Wellington lifted midway through the half and threatened on more than one occasion, but couldn’t carve out a clear opportunity.
Alyssa Whinham looked dangerous with attacking runs from midfield and Grace Jale was lively up front but the visitors failed to test Reds’ keeper Annalee Grove.
The two sides continued to attack following the interval but neither keeper was called into action until United finally broke the deadlock in the 68th minute following a delightful exchange of first-time passes involving four players.
Dylan Holmes collected the ball in the middle of the park and fed Worts who played in Isabel Hodgson out wide.
The Reds skipper whipped in a cross from the right and Paige Hayward got in front of her opponent and prodded the ball into the net.
“I’m definitely pleased with the result,” United coach Adrian Stenta said.
“I thought there were some patches where we played some really good football, but just didn’t have that cutting edge in the final third.”
The visitors went in search of an equaliser and almost drew level shortly after.
Adelaide were unable to clear a Phoenix corner and, with the ball bobbling about in the area, substitute Jordan Jasnos side-footed her effort just wide of the post from eight metres out.
Wellington coach Gemma Lewis acknowledged both sides’ inability to fashion many clear goal scoring opportunities.
“It was a really interesting game for me; I felt like both teams had a slow start,” she said.
“It actually felt like it was a bit of an impasse where both teams were a little bit passive.”