A second-half hat-trick from debutant Sarah McLaughlin has stolen all three points for Adelaide United in their opening fixture of the 2012/13 W-League season.

McLaughlin provided the late drama as United came from 3-1 down to defeat the Western Sydney Wanderers at Burton Park. The midfielder struck in 78th, 80th and 88th minutes to consign Western Sydney to a loss in the franchise’s first competitive W-League match.

The Wanderers got off to the perfect start with Servet Uzunlar scoring a double, before a Racheal Quigley penalty gave Adelaide a lifeline heading into the second half.

Jenna Kingsley looked to have sewn up all three points for the visitors in the 54th minute, however Sarah McLaughlin roared into action with three incredible strikes earning an impressive victory for the Lady Reds in front of an ecstatic home crowd.

United started the game brightly inside the first five minutes, looking to erase a horror 2011/12 season where they won just one match all year. The Reds’ early pressure caused the Wanderers to turn the ball over on numerous occasions and presented opportunities for Adelaide to strike the opening goal.

In the 2nd minute a brilliant link-up down the right wing allowed 16-year-old Emma Checker to send in a delightful cross which was palmed away by Wanderers ‘keeper Elizabeth Durack. The rebound fell to left-winger Laura Johns, however her headed effort couldn’t find the net.

Western Sydney opened the scoring in the 6th minute with a long-distance shot from Servet Uzunlar bewildering United ‘keeper Kristi Harvey as it floated into the far corner. The Wanderers erupted into wild celebrations as they opened their scoring account in an historic day for the Western Sydney Wanderers franchise.

The visitors doubled their lead in the 21st minute with another long-range strike from Uzunlar stunning Adelaide’s defence. In an almost carbon copy of the opener, Uzunlar’s lofted strike deceived Harvey and left her backpedalling in vain, trying to claw at the ball.

The Lady Reds were granted a lifeline in the 34th minute after solid work from New Zealand international Holly Patterson earned United a penalty. After turning her opponent on the right-byline Patterson ghosted past Western Sydney’s last defender and was clipped as she passed by. Racheal Quigley stepped up and left Durack rooted to the spot as her finesse shot the ‘keeper’s left.

Western Sydney began to turn the screws and eventually restored a two-goal lead in the 54th minute through Jenna Kingsley. The striker initially beat the offside trap and looked certain to score but for an exceptional low, diving save repelled the strike. Unfortunately for the Lady Reds the ball rebounded perfectly into Kingsley’s lap who had no trouble dispatching it into the back of the net.

The Wanderers began to run away with the game in the second half and should have scored again in the 64th minute only for the post to come to the rescue. Brilliant build-up from Walsh allowed her to walk through the Reds’ defence before sliding a pass to Kingsley. The Wanderers were to be denied however as her deflected strike hit the base of post and was smothered by Harvey.

A defensive lapse in the 78th minute cost the Wanderers dearly as an attempted clearance by Durack fell into McLaughlin’s lap and the midfielder made no mistake in cutting the deficit to a single goal. The late drama continued just two minutes later as McLaughlin’s flying half-volley restored parity heading into the final 10 minutes.

Incredible scenes followed in the 88th minute as McLaughlin sealed her hat-trick with another long-range strike into the far corner. The Wanderers’ defence had no answer to the Reds’ #8 who ran riot in the second half.

The match provided an emphatic and entertaining start for both sides’ W-League seasons with many more inspiring moments sure to be on show in the coming weeks.

SHARE