Canberra United returned to the top four with a solid 2-0 win over Sydney FC at McKellar Park on Sunday.
Canberra dominated possession early on a blustery day at McKellar Park but a see-sawing start stretched even to the refereeing decisions. A challenge from Rachel Corsie on Alanna Kennedy saw them both fall, with Kennedy handballing on the way down.
Referee Katie Patterson pointed to the spot for a Sydney penalty before consulting the assistant referee who indicated a handball and the decision was reversed.
Sydney had a string of opportunities. Lisa De Vanna played provider to Caitlin Foord, but Foord played to no one, having imagined Savannah McCaskill would be there in front of goal to convert.
The next major chance was with Canberra. Karly Roestbakken volleyed a sublime ball over Aubrey Bledsoe but the offside flag was up.
Minutes later, United made another superb play up the left through Roestbakken, Denise O’Sullivan and Refiloe Jane, with Rhoda Mulaudzi’s run cutting through the defence, but her shot was straight at Bledsoe.
Again, Jane played a divine ball from Jane to Mulaudzi who found Nielsen whose shot was saved by a diving Bledsoe.
Sydney took control back near the end of the half, with a De Vanna run on goal, her shot saved by the brave Sham Khamis who dived at her feet.
While Sam Kerr might be coming close, there’s still nothing quite as iconic in Australian football as the sight of De Vanna running with the ball at her feet. She has terrorised Canberra crowds for years, and of course delighted the crowd in Canberra when she was part of the side in 2016/17.
De Vanna’s teammates in sky blue are also on the iconic side – Logarzo, Kennedy, and imports Huerta, McCaskill and Bledsoe but Sydney were far from their iconic best, showing urgency on the ball, but not moving as a team and becoming more disjointed as the game went on.
In practically the final play of the first half, there was another referee see-saw. Ellie Carpenter swung in a free kick with the assistant referee lifting her flag indicating Mulaudzi was offside.
A Sydney FC player had contacted the ball and with Mulaudzi retreating to an onside position and her shot ending in the net, her confusion ensued until the referee clarified with the assistant and the goal was awarded.