Brisbane Roar FC won their third match in a row to take a spot atop the ladder, handling Canberra United comfortably.
If anything, Roar may be disappointed to only come away with a single goal from the win – after dominating every area of the game.
Undoubtedly the ideal time to face Perth Glory is when they’re without Samantha Kerr. Canberra United learned this week that the worst time to face Brisbane Roar FC is after a Matildas tune up for half their squad.
Coach Heather Garriock was frank in her disappointment following the match, which halted a winning streak of three matches.
“We didn’t stick to our game plan in the first half, and we very much got outplayed.”
She praised Roar’s midfield, conceding that the visitors were a class above.
“Today, Katrina Gorry and Tameka Butt were absolutely outstanding, and it doesn’t matter who I put in there. I put Ellie Carpenter in there, thinking that she could match Gorry’s athleticism. Again, Carpenter was outstanding, but they killed us in the midfield.”
For many who watched United dispatch Glory in Round 5 – it was a completely different Canberra side to behold. They were flatfooted, giving Roar space on the ball and hardly seeming hungry as a unit, or able to see how to play their way back into the contest.
“Counterattack football became the gameplan. It was effective, and towards the end there – the breakaway that Ellie Carpenter made and then the tap in that we missed.”
United may rue the missed tap, but it was not so much chances that went begging, but a lack of chances created that hurt them in the match.
Haley Kopmeyer again was solid between the sticks. Karly Roestbakken defended tirelessly, with a particularly impressive passing accuracy. Thorsnes had another outstanding turn, switching back and later up top when needed.
Ashleigh Sykes nursed her ankle in press after the loss.
“I thought I could come back on and run it off, but it wasn’t quite working. We needed someone up there who was mobile, and to offer a bit more than just stand there. It was unfortunate timing coming off as they scored the goal because we needed someone to get us back in the game and usually I’d look to myself to try and help do that.”
There’s no doubt a Sykes-spurred comeback was possible before she was forced from the field – but the side struggled to build pressure or feed it much to her at all, so the loss was not ultimately a game-changing one.
Brisbane Roar will no doubt take significant confidence into their fortnight at home after a compelling, complete team performance.
Katrina Gorry was in blistering form, dominating with nearly twice as many touches as her closest United competition, Elise Thorsnes. Overall though, it was a hungry side that travelled down to Canberra and they roundly controlled the match, winning almost every contest, if not at first, later, as they persisted.
The last time Roar travelled to Canberra – with a similar lineup to Sunday– they were handed a 5-1 spanking. After being the most consistent side in the W-League for years, Roar slipped off the pace last year. It’s a testament to their off-seasons apart, and their persistence that Brisbane have already reached the number of total wins they did in Season 9 – and are now entrenched in the top four.
Mackenzie Arnold touched the ball a little less than her Canberra United counterpart – but her touches were higher, and deliberate as Roar were happy to use her in transition.
Polkinghorne was solid in defence, as was Summer O’Brien. Carson Pickett and Hayley Raso both piled on the pressure in the top third throughout.
While subs, staff and fans shivered on the sidelines through the cool afternoon, Emily Gielnik, fresh off the plane from Norway, found it a bit warm in her first W-League minutes since January.
“Even though it wasn’t really hot in Canberra – I found it hot.” Gielnik came on an hour into the match – creating chances from the outset.
She was happy to be back on the park, and following the win already sounded hungry for a start, and the next one.
“Obviously everyone has to earn their spot in [the starting eleven] –hopefully after today and a good week ahead, I’ll get myself back in that starting spot and start creating more opportunities up front. I had 30 minutes today, but I don’t feel like I did as much as I would like to.”
Kaitlyn Torpey and Tameka Butt might carry injury concerns heading into Round 7. Both looked pained in the late stages of the match – Torpey was forced from the field with ten minutes to play.
Canberra United travel south to face Melbourne City in Round 7, while Brisbane Roar play host to Newcastle Jets for their second top-four clash in as many weeks.
On the recent Matildas games, and the discussion of a general bye, Garriock was pragmatic. “Unfortunately for us, we knew we were losing two key players, just like Perth did. You need to prepare and have depth in your squad.”
Sykes sees wisdom in timing Matildas games during the season, to draw attention to the game.
“Matildas games are happening, W-League games are happening, it’s all great for the sport. I don’t think we necessarily have to take a break though, it just sucks that three teams get the bye and the rest of us have to play.”
Canberra United 0
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Butt 67’)