Canberra claim premiers title with Reds rout

Canberra United claimed the Westfield W-League premiership in some style with a 5-0 win over Adelaide United at McKellar Park with Michelle Heyman and Taryn Hemmings scoring a double apiece.

Canberra United claimed the Westfield W-League premiership in some style with a 5-0 win over Adelaide United at McKellar Park with Michelle Heyman and Taryn Hemmings scoring a double apiece. The result means that United end the season unbeaten, becoming the first team in the history of the competition to do so, and in the process racked up their biggest ever victory with an Ashleigh Sykes stoppage time goal confirming their place in history.

A combination of injures and unavailability meant that United was forced into three changes from the team that drew in Melbourne with Grace Gill replacing Caitlin Munoz in central midfield, Snez Veljanovska drafted in at right back in place of Ellyse Perry and youngster Hayley Raso given a chance to prove herself up front with Taryn Hemmings reverting to the bench. With Canberra needing only a point to be sure of claiming the league championship the match started surprisingly in lethargic fashion with the opening quarter of an hour barely producing a shot worthy of note as a scrappy midfield battle ensured. With the temperatures soaring it was hardly surprising that the prosaic pace with which the game commenced carried on for much of the first half. Indeed, but for a wayward shot from leading scorer Heyman and a flicked header from the same player off a Grace Gill free-kick, neither goalkeeper was troubled in the opening twenty minutes.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 28th minute. A delightful ball over the back of the Adelaide defence by Shipard allowed Heyman to challenge Lady Reds ‘keeper Sian McLaren for the ball and the Westfield W-League leading scorer got their first to nod it over the advancing Adelaide custodian and into the net for her eleventh goal of the season. Eleven became twelve barely six minutes later when the lethal Heyman struck again. A surging run from Raso took her deep into Adelaide territory and her slide-rule pass allowed Heyman to round McLaren and slot into the empty net for another fine finish. Raso had a fine forty-five minutes showcasing her pace and tenacity as Canberra came to grips with the match and led 2-0 heading into interval.

Coach Jitka Klimkova made two changes at the break with Taryn Hemmings replacing the tireless Raso and substitute ‘keeper Aroon Clansey given the chance to make her first appearance for the club when she came on for Lydia Williams. United should have increased their lead seventeen seconds into the second half when Hemmings pounced on a mistake in the Adelaide rearguard but shot wide of the post. The Lady Reds responded well and Rachael Quigley was unlucky to see her far post head bounce back off the base of the post and into the grateful hands of the New Zealand international Clansey. But that appeared to be a minor respite for the visitors who were coming under increasing pressure as the half continued.

As the afternoon wore on the pace of the game reduced somewhat as Canberra, comfortable in the knowledge that their two-goal cushion had them as league champions, took their collective foot off the pedal, so much so that Adelaide began to look dangerous on their sporadic breakaways into the United half. On one such occasion Marijana Rajcic spun and shot at goal only to be denied by a superb diving save by Clansey. At the other end, the Adelaide defence, marshalled well by Abby Erceg, restricted Canberra to shots from distance with Heyman and Gill attempting ambitious drives that flashed harmlessly past McLaren-s right-hand post. Heyman then almost lobbed McLaren after Veljanovska, who enjoyed a composed game at full-back, headed on a deep cross into the danger area. Adelaide-s resistance crumbled in the final ten minutes as Canberra racked up another three goals with Hemmings to the forefront.

The US import capitalised on a defensive error to advance on goal and slot past McLaren in the 83rd minute before scoring the goal of the game two minutes later. Collecting a pass out on the touchline, Hemmings cut infield and unleashed a venomous shot from outside the penalty area and into the top corner of the net. The scoring was completed in stoppage time as a gallant Adelaide ran out of legs and Ashleigh Sykes took full advantage to run into the area and clip a composed finish over McLaren to send the home crowd into delirium and secure a first major title for Canberra United.

MATCH STATISTICS Saturday 7th January 2012 McKellar Park, Belconnen CANBERRA UNITED 5 (Michelle Heyman 28-, 35-, Taryn Hemmings 83-, 85-, Ashleigh Sykes 92-) ADELAIDE UNITED 0 Half-time: 2-0

Canberra United: 1. Lydia Williams (20. Aroon Clansey 46-), 2. Caitlin Cooper (17. Emma Kete 87-), 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Hayley Raso (18. Taryn Hemmings 46-), 9. Grace Gill, 10. Snez Veljanovska, 11. Michelle Heyman, 13. Nicole Sykes, 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 15. Sally Shipard, 19. Jennifer Bisset Substitutes not used: 3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale

Adelaide United: 1. Sian McLaren, 2. Ruth Wallace (19. Nenita Burgess 37-), 3. Anna Green, 5. Abby Erceg, 7. Rachael Quigley, 8. Leanne Slater (4. Daniela Di Bartolo 83-), 9. Marijana Rajic, 11. Ashleigh Gunning, 15. Emma Checker, 17. Katherine Ebbs, 18. Georgia Macri (12. Greta French-Kennedy 62-) Substitutes not used: 20. Kristi Harvey

Yellow Cards: 13. N. Sykes (CUFC)

Referee: Rebecca Durcau Assistant Referees: Sarah Ho, Allyson Flynn