Canberra hold off Adelaide in stirring McKellar victory

Canberra United (Carpenter 59’) def. Adelaide United 1

Canberra United got back to winning ways at McKellar Park on Sunday, as Ellie Carpenter’s second half strike kept the hosts finals hopes alive.

Canberra started the game as the better team which saw a number of opportunities created in the opening stages.

Nicki Flannery had the best of the chances as Nikola Orgill’s cross found her at the near post but the striker couldn’t keep her effort down and sent it over the bar.

Adelaide striker Michelle Heyman came close to scoring on her return to McKellar Park, only for Taren King to brilliantly block her shot after she had rounded Sham Khamis in the 11th minute.

Heather Garriock’s side looked to have opened the scoring through Maria Jose Rojas as she headed Taren King’s long cross over the top of Willacy and into the net, only to be flagged for offside.

After being tied goalless at the break Garriock brought on Ash Sykes for Flannery as the second half began, and approaching the hour mark Meg McElligott joined her as she replaced Rojas up top.

McElligott had an instant impact coming off the bench, as Canberra broke the deadlock through midfielder Carpenter.

Carpenter began the move from the back and finished it shortly after up the other end after setting Sykes free down the right.

Sykes crossed to McElligott whose shot on the turn was blocked by a defender, but the ball fell kindly to Carpenter in space to smash it past Willacy and give the home side an important lead.

The final 20 minutes of the game was frantic as Adelaide looked for an equaliser with both teams beginning to tire in the afternoon heat.

Adelaide nearly had their equaliser in the 71st minute, as striker Fridriksdottir struck the crossbar with an effort from the edge of the area, with Khamis scrambling to mop up the crumbs.

Rhoda Mulaudzi failed to find the scoresheet at McKellar for the first time this season, but received a massive ovation from the home faithful as she made way for Laura Hughes with eight minutes to play.

The 1,486 strong crowd was immense in the dying stages as Adelaide threatened, and Khamis made an extraordinary save to deny Veronica Latsko before five minutes of stoppage time had the locals on the edge of their seats.

Canberra prevailed though, and their finals hopes remain alive as a short turnaround sees them welcome Melbourne Victory to Seiffert Oval on Thursday night for the final home match of the season.

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