Brisbane City made the perfect start in their first ever National Premier Leagues Women’s fixture after downing Sunshine Coast Wanderers in the NPL Game of the Week.
City proved the more clinical side at Corporate Travel Management Stadium as they struck a goal in each half to dispatch the Wanderers 2-1 on Saturday night.
Darcie Wilson set the tone early for the Azzurri with the opening goal on the quarter hour, before Kijah Stephenson sealed the win late in the second half to cap off a busy performance.
The Wanderers sole consolation came late in injury time through the energetic Raelle Avery on an otherwise disappointing night for the visitors.
Erratic passing from both sides plagued the opening exchanges and a stop-start opening stanza ultimately only offered sporadic chances for both sides.
The Wanderers were the first to threaten on 13 minutes when Avery slipped in behind the City lines but the hosts received a reprieve when her fierce strike cannoned off the crossbar.
By contrast, the hosts made the most of their first clear-cut scoring opportunity - Darcie Wilson claiming the spoils with a composed finish after Stephenson’s run from deep in her own half carved up the Wanderers’ defence.
In response, Avery threatened again for the Wanderers on 24 minutes by forcing a low save from City custodian Rachel Oates, but that was as good as it got for the visitors in the first half.
Likewise, City were unable to capitalise on their increasing dominance as they spurned a pair of gilt-edged chances after the half hour – Stephenson fluffing her lines on both occasions from inside six yards with the goal at her mercy.
It was a similarly cagey start the second stanza, but the Wanderers regrouped to threaten first just before the hour when Els Van Hooijdonk pushed her shot across the face on the back of a blistering run.
With both sides resorting to an increasingly direct approach, both defences held sway for extended periods as both City and Wanderers struggled for outlets in the attacking third as the game progressed.
Ultimately, however, it was an error that sealed the Wanderers fate in the 77th minute - Rahab Murray’s goal kick picked off by Stephenson, who made amends for her earlier misses by opportunistically guiding the ball home from distance.
The Wanderers night was summed up minutes later when the energetic Avery spurned the chance to pull a goal back by steering a close ranged header wide of the near post.
She ultimately got her reward deep in injury time by tucking away a close-range finish to halve the margin, but it was too little too late for the visitors as the Azzurri saw out the remaining seconds for a largely deserved win.
Skie Hanifin's side will look to build on their win when they host title-contenders Capalaba FC next weekend, while the Wanderers will look to bounce back when they travel to defending Premiers Gold Coast United.
Feature image courtesy of Gold Coast United / Kyoko