Semi-finalists draw in Adelaide to eliminate hosts.
Canberra’s seven match winning run came to an end as Adelaide United forced a 1-1 draw in an exciting match in South Australia. In a game of two distinct halves, Canberra dominated the opening forty-five minutes but the Lady Reds had the better of the second half with goals from Veronica Perez and Abigail Dahlkemper ensuring honours were even, a result that meant Adelaide were eliminated from the race for the finals.
Despite having already confirmed their semi-final spot, and with Adelaide having the greater need for a positive result, it was Canberra who started the sharper and monopolised the early stages of possession. Perez and Tegan Riding tested the alertness of Kaitlyn Savage in the Lady Reds goal with a couple of strikes inside the opening five minutes.
The pattern of the game continued in much the same vein thereafter as Canberra skilfully knocked the ball around at will with Ashleigh Sykes and Michelle Heyman causing numerous issues for the Adelaide defence with their pace and movement. And it was Sykes ability that created the opener in the 23rd minute.
In terrific form in recent weeks, Sykes continued her tormenting of the Lady Reds back four and when she got away from Elizabeth Milne the Kiwi international felled her inside the area for a stonewall penalty. Mexican superstar Perez stepped up to the spot and did the honours, burying her shot into the bottom right hand corner past the despairing dive of Savage to open the scoring.
Shortly after the visitors almost had a second as Heyman and Sykes linked again to find Caitlin Munoz in space, the experienced midfielders chip was, however, brilliantly turned over by Savage. Munoz was denied again in the 35th minute when her dipping free-kick was tipped away by the Adelaide shot-stopper and, from the resultant corner, Rebecca Kiting headed just over the bar as Canberra turned the screw.
But, such are the vagaries of football, that Adelaide hit Canberra with a sucker punch close to half-time. Having been on the back foot the Lady Reds needed a response and they got it as Dahlkemper lashed a cracker into the top corner from outside the area to draw the teams back to parity at the interval.
The home team came out with a purpose in the second half as their need for a win shone through. Dahlkemper was at the heart of their best moves creating a chance for early second half substitute Allira Toby who hit a fierce effort that Lydia Williams needed to be equal to. Williams was in the right place moments later as well, catching a volley from Sarah Killion.
Savage kept her team in the game with a terrific double save from Tegan Riding and Sykes in rapid succession as Canberra reasserted their authority but, in the main, Adelaide had much the better of the second stanza. Adelaide were growing increasingly desperate for a goal that would keep their season alive but clear cut openings were few and far between, although there were one or two nervous moments for the Canberra defence mainly through the pace of Toby. At the other end Munoz fired over the bar from a training ground free-kick routine.
Both sides went close to winning it in stoppage time as firstly substitute Nickoletta Flannery was denied by Savage before Emily Condon hit the inside of the post for Adelaide but a draw was probably the fairest result.
Adelaide United 1 (Abigail Dahlkemper 43’) Canberra United 1 (Veronica Perez 23’ (pen))
(Adelaide Shores Football Centre)
Adelaide United: 1. Kaitlyn SAVAGE, 2. Laure STEER, 4. Sarah KILLION, 8. Emily CONDON, 11. Rosie SUTTON, 12. Elizabeth MILNE, 13. Abigail DAHLKEMPER, 14. Grace ABBEY (10. Georgia CAMPAGNALE 82’), 17. Tiarn POWELL (5. Allira TOBY 56’), 18. Lorena MAGGIO (19. Gabrielle BENTLEY 87’), 21. Isabel HODGSON
Substitutes not used: 20. Claudia JENKINS
Canberra United: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (3. Julia DE ANGELIS 86’), 7. Ellie BRUSH, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 16. Tegan RIDING (19. Nickoletta FLANNERY 60’), 17. Veronica PEREZ, 18. Rebecca KITING
Substitutes not used: 10. Grace MAHER, 20. Melissa MAIZELS
Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 4. Sarah KILLION, 12. Elizabeth MILNE (Adelaide United)
Referee: Casey REIBELT