A debut goal for unheralded midfielder Daniela Di Bartolo secured Adelaide United victory over two-time champions Brisbane Roar in the biggest upset of the W-League’s six-year history.
With just six wins in 56 matches, Adelaide, who have finished last in all bar one season of the competition, were at long odds to take anything from their trip to the table-topping Roar who lined up with 10 internationals.
An early red card to Brisbane defender Laura Alleway put them on the back foot, but the Roar still dominated possession, creating a host of goalscoring opportunities.
Daila-Tais Borg missed a first-half penalty for Adelaide, while at the other end Brisbane could find no way past experienced goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
The decisive moment came with 15 minutes remaining as the diminutive Di Bartolo – brought in only a few weeks ago by coach Ross Aloisi as an injury replacement player – got the final touch on a goalmouth scramble.
The shock result allowed Melbourne Victory to take sole possession of top spot on the ladder thanks to their 1-1 draw against Sydney FC in a rematch of the last season’s grand final.
Despite a dominant second-half display the Victory were unable to find a winner and earn redemption for defeat in last season’s decider or their 5-1 opening-day capitulation against the Sky Blues.
Inspirational midfielder Jessica Fishlock finally delivered a composed finish as the Victory secured an overdue equaliser ten minutes from full time, with full-back Jessica Samuelsson earlier striking the post amid a host of missed chances.
Teenage Matildas star Caitlin Foord set up the opener for Sydney in a sparkling return to the W-League following a five-month absence with a foot injury.
Foord, named by FIFA as the best young player at the 2011 Women’s World Cup, hit the crossbar with a smart turn and shot allowing Emma Kete to score from the rebound on 30 minutes.
At the other end, Melbourne Victory’s star recruit Lisa De Vanna had less luck in front of goal missing a host of chances despite looking dangerous throughout.
It proved to be a weekend of comebacks with veteran midfielder Heather Garriock scoring just six minutes into her return following two years away from the game for the birth of her first child.
Garriock delivered a deft inch-prefect chip over Perth Glory goalkeeper Chantel Jones for the goal of the game in a 3-0 win for a Wanderers side also boosted by the return of goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold and key defender Alanna Kennedy.
In the remaining round five match American import Stephanie Ochs netted a double as Canberra United returned to winning ways with a routine 3-0 win over strugglers Newcastle Jets.