Canberra United found vindication for last week’s frustrating draw in a rout of Perth Glory at home, to lock in a Season 9 finals berth.
For a top-four clash that was expected to be a tight encounter, nine goals were scored in a match that was effectively over before the second half had begun.
Ashleigh Sykes scored her first W-League hat trick, and added a fourth before enjoying the rest of the match from the sidelines, while Grace Maher took the captain’s armband for the first time in the second half. Goals for Hayley Raso, Grace Maher and Stephanie Ochs completed Canberra’s tally, while Samantha Kerr and Vanessa Di Bernardo scored for Perth.
Canberra United – Key points and players
Canberra United put in a near flawless first half performance. They were tight in defence, moved the ball around with precision, and capitalised on chances created.
It was a classic team performance, with defenders like Hannah Brewer muscling up well against Sutton and Kerr, in an end to end contest.
Yukari Kinga was tireless in the midfield, working harder as the game tightened up in the second half. Grace Maher, who took the captain’s armband as Sykes left the pitch was again making important moves. Spencer, Ochs and Sykes were on song, moving the ball almost effortlessly around, wreaking havoc on the Perth defence. Hayley Raso scored for her first time at home this season on a brilliant solo run, and was almost too quick for herself at times.
Canberra United coach Rae Dower was very pleased with the win, and the way her side took early chances.
“[T]oday we’ve shown the little blip against Sydney was that one off and the reaction’s been great, it’s been positive, we made some crucial errors in that game but we’ve learnt from them and I think today showed the kind of attractive football that we want to play, that suits us, suits the players we’ve got. When you’re clinical like that you put sides away very, very early.”
Ash Sykes produced an incredible performance, and was only on field for 50 minutes. She was rapt in press after the game.
“Things don’t often go in as well as they have the last two weeks, even last week a few more goals for me could have gone in, but to come off at 50 minutes and rest, and know that the job’s almost done is a luxury you don’t always get.”
Dower was full of praise for the striker, whose early subbing was a result of sickness this week.
“I would have loved her to stay on and scored 10 in the form she was in. She was pretty crook, and being pretty hot, at four goals she’d done her job, and once again she led from the front. Without Ellie and Michelle in that crucial leadership role, Ash doesn’t say a lot but her actions again today were plenty and it’s just been a real privilege to see Ash grow as a person and a player over this last four seasons.”
Consistency now vital in the final weeks of the regular season, can Canberra build on this win, and consolidate the statement made against Perth?
Perth Glory – Key points and players
Perth Glory found themselves down at half-time 5 – 0, but hadn’t played all that badly. The expected tight battle only really emerged in the second half, when Perth stayed in the hunt for goals.
Samantha Kerr has flourished captaining a Perth side through victories and defeats. She is also still leading the league (now tied with Sykes) in goals, a good reason opposing fans are never particularly comfortable when she has the ball. The goals rained down in Canberra, but not as many as could have off Kerr’s boot. She skimmed the crossbar a number of times, and there were a few telling misses, perhaps of the added pressure of such a deficit. She was quick to tweet with pride of her side after the loss, and the hope heading into finals, is that she can lead the side to reset for their next outing.
Vanessa Di Bernardo was in fine form, linking well with Rosie Sutton and Kerr – as Perth worked themselves into the game in the second half. She was also unlucky to hit the crossbar not long before converting on a penalty kick. In positive signs in the lead up to finals, good shots came from Di Bernardo, Mautz and Kerr.
Maizels, in just her second game back from injury was forced to make some excellent saves, and should take comfort in the knowledge the score line was not a fair reflection of her performance. It was as much a game of momentum as anything, where a few more could have rolled in. She will be hoping to quickly find her pre-injury form, having kept 3 clean sheets earlier in the season.
One of the key differences between the game Glory and United had, was consistency in defence. Both teams were impressive in transition play, but Canberra also had more opportunities because they maintained possession through the midfield more after clearing. The first ten minutes of the second half were defining, and where Perth should look to improve on, as Canberra scored two quick goals. The game many expected to see played out in the last 30 minutes, as Perth were able to peg two back off the home side, but it was ultimately too late.
It wasn’t their day, but in a season where a few sides have had similar days – there are great signs of a big Season 9 finish.
“I think every team in the competition who’s in finals contention this year has shown glimpses of what they’re capable of. Can you imagine the Sydney team that thrashed us versus us who today? That’s set for an awesome finals series when it happens. I think it’s just exciting for the league to know that teams on their day can play really good football,” Sykes added.
How well can the side shake off the loss, to chase a surely crucial home semi-final?
Perth Glory host Adelaide United in Round 13, while Canberra United travel to Campbelltown for a clash with Western Sydney Wanderers. These four sides were responsible for 21 goals in 90 minutes this round, so it will be interesting to see whether any records fall in the follow up.
Canberra United 7 (Sykes 6’/19’/45’/46’, Ochs 25’, Maher 33’, Raso 49’)
Perth Glory 2 (Di Bernardo 57’(pk), Kerr 79’)
McKellar Park, Canberra
Kick off: 4.00pm
Referee: Kate Jacewicz
Canberra United: Trudy Burke (gk), Yukari Kinga, Emma Checker, Hayley Raso, Grace Maher, Jenna McCormick, Jasmyne Spencer, Hannah Brewer, Ashleigh Sykes (Lisa De Vanna 51’), Celeste Boureille (Kahlia Hogg 71’), Stephanie Ochs (Nickoletta Flannery 61’)
Substitutes: Georgia Boric (gk)
Cautions: Trudy Burke 16’, Nickoletta Flannery 90+1’
Perth Glory: Melissa Maizels (gk), Sarah Carroll, Kim Carroll, Alyssa Mautz, Nicole Stanton, Shawn Billam (Jaymee Gibbons 45’), Rosie Sutton, Vanessa Di Bernardo, Natasha Rigby, Samantha Kerr, Arianna Romero
Substitutes: Dal Busco (gk), Patricia Charalambous, Catilin Doeglas