Crunch time for United

Western Sydney Wanderers are the opposition as United aim for finals football

Saturday 5th January 2013 Canberra United v Western Sydney Wanderers McKellar Park, Kick off 2pm

The first match of a new year sees Canberra United welcoming brand new opposition to McKellar Park in the form of the newest Westfield W-League team, Western Sydney Wanderers in a crunch match that could go some way to deciding United-s finals fate. With only two matches of the regular season to play Canberra needs maximum points to stand any chance of making the top four and a semi-final place starting with the visit of the newly-formed Wanderers franchise.

The Wanderers were only formed at the beginning of this season but have taken to the competition like the proverbial ducks to water and are pushing for a top four, and finals place, in their inaugural campaign. That they should be flying so high is not really a surprise when you consider their roster and the talent they possess amongst what is an exciting and eclectic playing group.

There is, as you would expect, a large core of former Sydney FC players who have had previous against Canberra United, so supporters can expect to see many familiar faces including former Matildas international striker Sarah Walsh. United supporters meanwhile may see a debut for USA international starlet Kristen Mewis who has arrived to bolster the clubs ranks at a critical time after the departures of Sally Shipard (season ending knee injury) and Nikki Washington (return to the USA).

The teams have met once already this season on a difficult surface at Campbelltown Stadium. On a rough and bumpy pitch that had more than its share of sand and bare patches, United struggled in the opening stanza, after a bright and breezy first ten minutes that should have brought a brace of goals. After the interval United fairly dominated possession and found an equalising goal after the Wanderers had gone ahead, but it-s fair to say that the visitors were never comfortable and that Western Sydney created their fair share of decent chances in what was an absorbing and even contest.

United are a different proposition at home however as despite the defeat to Melbourne Victory last time out the club has lost only four matches in the national capital out of 27 games—a quite staggering record. It-s the kind of form on which finals football is based and its little surprise to learn that, in the main because of that success that Canberra has played in the finals in each of the four seasons of Westfield W-League football to date.

In order to continue that remarkable record though the club will need to find maximum points today. The table has a real log-jam look about it with any six of the top eight capable of making the finals. On the individual player front United can boast more goal-scorers than any other team with eleven players having netted in the competition this season. The Wanderers also share their goals around the team with over half a dozen players having found their way into the score sheet this term.

The scene is therefore set for what should be an interesting tactical battle between two dangerous teams who will be desperate for the three points. Gaining them would give either side a crucial boost towards playing in the finals, whilst the vanquished may well be left to reflect on a season of what might have been. Brace yourselves for something special!

Canberra United: 1. Mackenzie Arnold, 2. Caitlin Cooper, 3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale, 4. Christine Walters, 5. Grace Field, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Hayley Raso, 9. Grace Gill, 10. Snez Veljanovska, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Sykes, 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 16. Catherine Brown, 17. Ariane Hingst, 18. Samantha Wood, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 20. Trudy Burke, 23. Kristen Mewis

In: 23. Kristen Mewis (from USA)

Unavailable:15. Sally Shipard (knee - season), 21. Nikki Washington (returned to USA)