Canberra prevail in finals race
Canberra United secured a Westfield W-League semi-finals berth as they defeated Perth Glory 5-1 at McKellar Park on Australia Day.
With Russ Gibbs at McKellar Park, Omnisport
Goals from Ellie Brush, Caitlin Munoz, Lori Lindsey and a late brace from Georgia Yeoman-Dale sealed the win, which coupled with results elsewhere, gave Canberra a seven-point cushion over Adelaide United.
The Lady Reds have just two matches to left play, which means Canberra United cannot finish below fourth.
In the absence of Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams, Canberra handed a first start of the season to under-study Trudy Burke.
Grace Field came in for her first game of the year in place of Sally Rojahn whilst the promising Meg McLaughlin replaced Ashleigh Sykes up front. Perth meanwhile played Kathryn Gill in the hole behind a three-pronged strike-force that signified their attacking intent, the line led by the enthusiastic running of Rosie Sutton.
Early opportunities were scarce at both ends of the park with the first real shot in anger not materialising until the 14th minute when Munoz found space on the edge of the Glory penalty area but dragged her right foot shot wide of the post.
Perth stopper Chantel Jones was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers flinging herself low to her right to push a Michelle Heyman cross-shot away for a corner as the home team kept searching for an early breakthrough. Nicole Sykes was next to try her luck, a scything half-volley comfortably dealt with by Jones after Stephanie Ochs had been inches away from connecting with a cross as Canberra scented a goal.
At the other end Burke was a virtual spectator, rarely troubled by the sporadic Perth breakaways and thus it was little surprise when Canberra took the lead eight minutes before half-time.
When the goal came it was simplicity itself. Lindsey created it, swinging in a near-post corner that was matched by the run of centre-back Brush whose flicked header had enough power to sneak past Jones.
Having gone ahead Canberra extended their lead only moments later. Heyman was brought down just outside of the penalty box and from the resultant free-kick Munoz blasted a perfect shot around the wall and into the corner with Jones left floundering.
And it was almost three on the stroke of half-time as Jones was forced to fling herself acrobatically backwards to palm a long-range Heyman missile over the bar.
The pattern was much the same after the break as Ochs set the tone testing Jones’ reflexes with a deceptive fizzing drive before McLaughlin looped a header onto the roof of the net following another dangerous Lindsey set-piece delivery with Canberra in the ascendancy.
Perth finally mustered a half-decent chance just past the hour mark when Marianna Tabain engineered room inside the Canberra box but was wasteful with her finish, rushing the effort and blazing harmlessly over the bar when a shot on target may have paid dividends.
Tabain had a chance to better that when she lined up a free-kick 25 metres out minutes later but again the shot was poor, always rising as it cleared the crossbar.
United was always a threat on the break and McLaughlin should have capped her maiden start with a first-ever goal when sent clean through on goal by Lindsey but the youngster lacked decisiveness, dawdling over the chance, and failing to get enough purchase to steer the ball past the advancing Jones.
With one eye on Wednesday’s blockbuster with Sydney FC, Migchelsen withdrew Heyman with twenty minutes to play bringing on the pace of Yeoman-Dale.
The change prompted more Canberra pressure with a number of shots peppering the visitor’s goal as Ochs and McLaughlin went close in rapid succession.
It appeared inevitable that Canberra would increase their lead before the end and they did so with nine minutes remaining.
Ochs was the architect, skipping past a tired challenge and swinging a delightful cross into the danger area. The Glory could only half clear and Lindsey pounced on the loose ball, ramming a vicious low shot past Jones from close to the penalty spot.
Perth had some consolation three minutes later as Gill met a deep cross with an inch-perfect header that arced over Burke and into the top corner, just reward for an industrious display from their most experienced player.
United wasn’t finished yet however and they rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.
McLaughlin was involved in the fourth, sliding a square pass to the unmarked Yeoman-Dale who picked her spot to finish with aplomb and the super-sub was at it again two minutes later making it 5-1, her first touch taking the ball away from her marker and the second guiding it under Jones and into the net to round off an excellent late cameo and a comprehensive success.
Canberra United 5 (Ellie Brush 37’, Caitlin Munoz 41’, Lori Lindsey 81’, Georgia Yeoman-Dale 90’, 92’)
Perth Glory 1 (Kathryn Gill 84’)
Canberra United: 20. Trudy BURKE, 2. Catherine BROWN, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Grace FIELD, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (9. Grace GILL 52’), 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Meg McLAUGHLIN, 11. Michelle HEYMAN (3. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE 70’), 13. Nicole SYKES, 16. Lori LINDSEY, 22. Stephanie OCHS
Perth Glory: 1. Chantel JONES, 2. Sarah CARROLL (6. Sasha ANDREWS 78’), 3. Cecilie SANDVEJ, 4. Bronwyn STUDMAN, 5. Shannon MAY, 9. Rosie SUTTON, 12. Katie GILL, 13. Elisa D’OVIDIO, 16. Thia EASTMAN, 17. Marianna TABAIN, 19. Shawn BILLAM (18. Amy KNIGHTS 57’)
Yellow cards: 13. Elisa D’OVIDIO (Perth Glory)