Canberra United joined Perth Glory on the top of the W-League ladder this week after pipping them 3-2 at McKellar Park in Canberra on Saturday afternoon.
The match attracted controversial comments from Matildas strikers Sam Kerr and Michelle Heyman who missed playing for their respective sides Glory and United. Both criticised the FFA’s decision to conduct any matches while the Matildas’ were on duty against China, while three other teams benefited from a bye round.
The Matildas were far from the minds of both sides and the crowd as the two sides went toe to toe.
The first 10 minutes risked descending into the physical affair of Canberra’s first home game against Sydney FC, but it smoothed out into one of the most technical matches this season so far.
Both sides were steered around positively by their vocal goalkeepers, and were determined to play the ball out from the backline.
It’s no surprise that Perth has built a very solid platform to launch the Kerr-uise missile from each week, and Hill was again the beneficiary, scoring a goal of her own and finding space between Canberra’s defence on other occasions, only to be stopped by the excellent Haley Kopmeyer.
Standouts for Perth were Kim Carroll, Hill and Nicola Bolger who was again everywhere on the park.
Canberra’s stability in defence and midfield is improving week by week, with the combinations being created from Kopmeyer through to player of the match Laura Bassett and goal scorer Grace Maher starting to solidify.
New signing from Norway, Elise Thorsnes was close to best on the park despite only arriving in Australia that week. Her combination with Ash Sykes was already head-shakingly on time, and her powerful strike and willingness to put her body into dangerous positions in defence was impressive.
Canberra United coach Heather Garriock was all smiles after the match. “I love winning and the girls love winning too. But it’s how we win – today we showed much better signs than last game and the game before.”
“We’re still a long way off our best. I’d say we’re about 60 per cent. We started off the game in the first 20 minutes – we were outstanding, then the momentum changed and some old habits crept in. We’ll build a lot of confidence from today’s game.”
When asked about Canberra’s Amy Sayer who scored a calm and collected goal for Canberra United, Garriock replied “Amy Sayer is a young gun coming through. While she has some great attributes, she has some work to do. It’s great that she’s scored her first goal for Canberra United.
Laura Bassett was awarded player of the match after the game and agreed the win against Perth was critical.
“Every game in this league is going to be tough and is going to be close. We now know we can start games well. We’re showing glimpses of some good combinations, and there are some great leaders on the pitch. We’re trying to accelerate the young players’ learning as much as possible.”
“This team is very grounded and hard working. We like getting back to training after our rest day each week to try to keep trying to improve . I don’t know about 60 per cent – she [Garriock] drives a hard bargain! We want to keep improving. We have three wins in a row now. We want to keep up the momentum.”
Next week, Canberra face Brisbane Roar at home on Sunday afternoon to challenge for top spot on the ladder.
Perth Glory are away again to Western Sydney Wanderers at Marconi Stadium at 4:30pm on Friday afternoon.
Canberra United 3 (Maher 18′, Sayer 57′, Bassett 70′)
Perth Glory 2 (Hill 45′, Moreno 87′)