Canberra United kept their season alive with a 1-0 victory over fifth placed Adelaide United at McKellar Park on Sunday.
In what was simply a lovely game to watch, it was evenly matched from the outset with no clear chances on goal until 15 minutes into the first half when Nikki Flannery’s half volley from a pinpoint cross from Nikola Orgill was sky-ed over Adelaide’s goal.
Adelaide’s early offensive intensity was matched by Canberra’s defensive robustness with Canberra flyers Karly Roestbakken, Ellie Carpenter and Flannery flooding back on the left flank to cover Michelle Heyman, Gunnhildur Jonsdottir and Georgia Campagnale as they surged forward towards Canberra’s goal.
While Canberra found some space in the middle through the ever impressive Refiloe Jane, their best ground was made up the flanks, evading the strong midfield of Adelaide.
By contrast, the Reds were strongest attacking through the middle and so the game flowed, in a circular motion for the first half hour, with precision passing for both sides.
Heyman nearly had a goal when she turned in space but Sham Khamis covered the threat, and soon after Maria Rojas had the ball in the net with a header off a sweet Mulaudzi cross but she was judged offside.
That sprung another spell of sharp moves late in the second half from Canberra through Rojas, and then Flannery, both cut out by Adelaide keeper Sarah Willacy.
Rojas was dynamite, standing up Emily Hodgson on one occasion, hitting into the side netting, before a Mulaudzi header skimmed the left upright to close out the first half.
Knowing they needed a win to stay in season 11 of the W-League, Canberra went all out in attack for the second half, pushing Jane further up the park to sit in behind the strikers from the outset, and Ashleigh Sykes was subbed in for Flannery.
Carpenter went close early, opting for a powerful shot deflected out by Willacy, rather than tucking it inside to the waiting Sykes.
Carpenter’s strong forward runs were matched by centre-back Rachel Corsie, and Adelaide were caught on the back foot for the first 10 minutes.