A heavy defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Jets has left Canberra United needing a last-round win to make finals.
A Katie Stengel hat-trick and a brace from Captain Emily Van Egmond helped the Jets to a 5-1 win, with Ellie Carpenter netting for United just before half-time.
The Jets started strongly and looked dangerous, but United had a good early chance as Carpenter slid a ball through to Sykes who blazed over from an angle.
12 minutes in though the Jets found their way into the lead through Van Egmond as she latched onto Katie Stengel’s cross at the back post.
Amy Sayer had a go from way out for United that wasn’t far wide, before Van Egmond did the same up the other end.
And soon after the Jets doubled their lead with Stengel involved again, this time as the goal scorer, firing home a loose ball in the box after Clare Hunt went down in possession under pressure.
The hosts refused to lie down though, particularly in the wake of last week’s sensational fightback, and created chances through Elise Thorsnes and Carpenter again as the half wore on.
That work paid dividends three minutes from the half with a sensational goal from Carpenter. Michelle Heyman set the youngster free near halfway with a tidy pass and the 17-year old did the rest, racing away from the Jets defence before halving the deficit with a composed finish to enter the half-time break at 2-1 down.
United came out of the blocks fast in the second half, and chances to Amy Sayer and Heyman within the opening five minutes had McKellar Park hopeful, but a header from Arin Gilliland that struck the upright reminded the hosts that the Jets were still full of intent.
And it was the Jets who made the second half breakthrough with just under 25 minutes remaining through a familiar combination. Stengel dished the ball to Van Egmond waiting on the edge of the area, and her low drive cannoned off the post and in to extend the lead.
It was a frustrating second half for the home crowd as United failed to finish chances and with just under ten minutes left the visitors looked to have put the game to bed with a well-worked set piece.
Van Egmond’s free-kick found Gilliland deep in the area, and she headed it back into the middle for Stengel to tuck home and extend the advantage.
Stengel finished the job in the final minute of regulation, breaking down the left wing before working her way inside and placing her shot just inside Haley Kopmeyer’s far post.
The loss leaves United needing the Jets to beat City next weekend and to win at Brisbane, while the Jets can possibly secure a home final with the same set of results.
With our finals hopes now resting on the final day in Brisbane, join the team at Suncorp Stadium thanks to JT Sports Tours.