A record crowd for Canberra United, and all the chances, weren’t enough to lift the home side against a still unbeatable Melbourne City FC.

Their last meeting was a goal fest, but this was more a goal-mouth fest, with Lydia Williams denying Canberra again and again, while City netted their chances.

In blustery conditions, Melbourne City extended their winning run to 16, courtesy of Laura Alleway and Melina Ayres goals.  Alleway netted a header off a beautiful Lauren Barnes free kick, while Ayres got on the end of a high ball from Jess Fishlock, to touch it past Trudy Burke.  Ellie Brush found a consolation goal for the home side, converting a late penalty kick.

Canberra United - Key points and players

Canberra United controlled the game but still came away without a point, and until a late penalty, were scoreless.  They dominated the Season 8 champions in every area except the scoreboard, leaving head coach Rae Dower disappointed with the result, not the performance.

“We’ve had two training sessions together as a full squad. So, for our first game the signs are very promising. The chances we created in the first half were enough to win 3 or 4 games, to be fair.”

Dower conceded there are areas to work on, from lapses in defence to finishing, while noting the challenging conditions.

“Definitely in the last week, the weather changed.  I think if you looked - every single corner flag had the flag pointing in a different direction, so there was no real definitive advantage.”

Jasmyne Spencer, after her first game for United, was optimistic. “It was good, it was a lot of fun. Definitely disappointed with the result, I think we could have at least got a point out of it, but it’s a great start to the season and building on this- I’m really looking forward to it.”

“We haven’t spent a ton of time together, and some of the stuff we pulled out on the field today was amazing to see in such a short time. It’s going to be exciting to see what else we can do.”

Strong showings from returning players and new signings made it clear that United are going to be applying scoreboard pressure a lot this season, but the side will need to be more clinical in making use of chances. Spencer, Celeste Boureille and Stephanie Ochs were particular stand outs, in a game that was physical at times.

Big Question

With shades of the side’s last match, Canberra United struggled to score goals. Will all their added firepower up top deliver?

Melbourne City - Key points and players

Last season’s newcomers were not known for the defence they put up, but the (many) goals they scored.  In this match, it was their defence that made the difference.  Although the key saves came predictably from Lydia Williams, her performance was complemented by those of Stephanie Catley, Laura Alleway and Teigen Allen.

City pursued a possession game, but without Kim Little, Lisa De Vanna and Larissa Crummer, there were few threats in the box.  They did capitalise on the chances created however, a hallmark of champion teams.  Lydia Williams, Melbourne City’s best acquisition for Season 9, wasn’t flawless against her old side, but her performance was decisive.  Rae Dower wasn’t surprised by this, from “one of the top 2-3 ‘keepers in the world.”

“We knew that she was going to have a big game today, playing for the first time against the team. That didn’t surprise us; the frequency with which she does that day in and day out is incredible.”

Big Question

Where are City’s goals going to come from when teams tighten up in defence as the season progresses?

What’s next?

Canberra United head north chasing their first points for the season against Brisbane Roar, while Melbourne City enjoy a bye before the Melbourne derby in Round 4.

Match Details

Canberra United 1 (Brush 90+’)

Melbourne City FC 2 (Alleway 18’, Ayres 80’)

GIO Stadium, Canberra

Kickoff: 3.00pm

Crowd: 2,595

Referee: Rebecca Durcau

Canberra United: Trudy Burke (GK), Yukari Kinga, Ellie Brush, Hayley Raso (Grace Maher 82’), Jasmyne Spencer, Jenna McCormick, Michelle Heyman, Hannah Brewer, Ashleigh Sykes, Celeste Boureille (Nickoletta Flannery 83’), Stephanie Ochs

Substitutes: Stewart (gk), Hunt

Melbourne City FC: Lydia Williams (GK), Teigen Allen, Lauren Barnes, Laura Alleway, Aivi Luik, Stephanie Catley, Jessica Fishlock, Erika Tymrak, Rebekah Stott, Melina Ayres (Tyla Jay Vlajnic 88’), Marianna Tabain

Substitutes: Quinn (gk), Galabadaarachchi, Ellis

Cautions: Aivi Luik 23’