Canberra United moved into second place on the Westfield W-League ladder after defeating Sydney FC 3-0 at McKellar Park on a swelteringly hot afternoon in the capital.
Goals from Sally Rojahn, Michelle Heyman and Stephanie Ochs did the damage for Canberra who played some of their most fluent football of the season to inflict a third loss of the campaign on the Sky Blues and keep alive their chances of hosting a home semi-final.
Caitlin Munoz threatened the Sky Blues defensive stability early on with a bullocking run that saw her burst past a couple of challenges before colliding heavily with FC goalkeeper Alyssa Harris who bravely dived at the feet of the United midfielder, earning a heavy knock for her troubles. If that was a warning for Sydney FC they failed to heed it and midway through the half Canberra hit the lead.
A slick United move saw Michelle Heyman played into the channel inside the penalty area and the Matildas striker tuned her marker before neatly back-heeling the ball into the path of onrushing full-back Sally Rojahn. Rojahn connected perfectly first time to side-foot her shot high past Harris, who got a hand on the shot, but failed to keep it out, registering her first goal for the club.
And it was to get even better for the hosts five minutes before the half-time break as they went further ahead. Ochs’ fizzing drive proved too hot to handle for Harris who couldn’t hold onto the drive from outside the area. Heyman reacted fastest to the loose ball and threw herself into a challenge with the recovering Sydney custodian.
Unfortunately for the Sydney stopper the ball rebounded from Harris off Heyman and up onto the crossbar. The home striker was first to her feet though and had the easiest task to slot home her sixth goal of the season into the empty net. Shortly after Ochs tested Harris reflexes again with another thumping shot that the ‘keeper parried away to safety as United led 2-0 at the break.
Sydney FC was forced to change goalkeepers at the interval with Sian McLaren replacing Harris who had failed to shake off the injury sustained in the earlier collision with Munoz. The Sky Blues certainly started the second period as if they meant business, pushing Teigen Allen into a more prominent forward role alongside the often isolated Jasmyne Spencer. But Spencer was largely a peripheral figure for much of the ninety minutes as Canberra’s solid central defensive duo of Ellie Brush and Grace Field kept the seven-goal striker quiet.
Meanwhile Canberra was able to put the game to bed with fourteen minutes remaining with an outstanding third goal. Ochs was the scorer this time, collecting the ball out wide, cutting infield and blasting a belter of a finish across McLaren into the top corner much to the appreciation of the United faithful.
Thereafter, Spencer hit the outside of the post for Sydney FC on a rare breakaway into Canberra territory but the sting had gone out of the game and Lori Lindsey should have made it four but was denied by a fine save from McLaren from point blank range. Spencer still had time to test Chantel Jones again, breaking away from the tiring Canberra defence, but her American compatriot was up to the challenge, standing firm to beat away the shot and preserve the clean sheet and wrap up a fine afternoon’s work for Elisabeth Migchelsen and her team.
Canberra United 3 (Sally Rojahn 22’, Michelle Heyman 40’, Stephanie Ochs 76’) Sydney FC 0
Canberra United: 1. Chantel JONES, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Grace FIELD, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (3. Julia DE ANGELIS 84’), 7. Ellie BRUSH, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Sally ROJAHN, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES (15. Tegan RIDING 74’), 16. Lori LINDSEY, 22. Stephanie OCHS
Substitutes not used: 2. Catherine BROWN, 20, Melissa MAIZELS
Sydney FC: 20. Alyssa HARRIS (21. Sian McLAREN 46’), 2. Teresa POLIAS, 3. Elizabeth RALSTON, 4. Alesha CLIFFORD, 5. Jasmyne SPENCER, 6. Servet UZUNLAR, 10. Renee ROLLASON, 12. Chloe LOGARZO, 15. Teigen ALLEN, 16. Samantha JOHNSON (24. Georgia PLESSAS 79’), 18. Heidi MAKRILLOS (13. Trudy CAMILLERI 57’)
Substitutes not used: 23. Melissa CACERES
Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (Canberra United)
Match Officials: Rebecca DURCAU (Referee), Maddison KENNEDY (AR1), Nia SOUTHWELL (AR2), Luke WITHELL (4th Official)