Penalty heartbreak for United in semi-final

Canberra United suffered Westfield W-League semi-final heartbreak going down 2-4 on penalties after an epic match with Brisbane Roar had ended in a pulsating 2-2 draw after extra-time.

Canberra United suffered Westfield W-League semi-final heartbreak going down 2-4 on penalties after an epic match with Brisbane Roar had ended in a pulsating 2-2 draw after extra-time.

Ellie Brush and Ellyse Perry were the unfortunate players to miss from twelve yards and when Casey Dumont thumped home the fifth Roar penalty United-s Westfield W-League Grand Final dream was over. Earlier, United had come from behind twice thanks to goals from Caitlin Munoz and Michelle Heyman to send the match to the spot-kick drama.

The quad injury suffered by Leah Blayney meant that Coach Ray Junna would be forced into making a change from the team that defeated Perth Glory to ensure the semi-final spot with speedy striker Ashleigh Sykes deployed up front, alongside Heyman, with Munoz dropping into the hole just behind the twin spearheads. Otherwise the team remained the same as the one that won 1-0 seven days before.

Referee Jacqui Melksham wasted little time in laying down the law issuing United midfielder Emily Van Egmond with a yellow card barely 45 seconds into the match for a miss-timed tackle on the edge of the centre circle. After that shaky beginning Canberra began promisingly with top-scorer Heyman showing her early intent with a brace of long-range efforts.

United nearly took the lead on ten minutes with an audacious effort from Van Egmond. Looking up, the United playmaker unleashed a 35 metre volley that looped over Casey Dumont in the Roar goal, crashed back off the underside of the bar, hit the Brisbane custodian and bounced away to safety.

At the other end United-s goalkeeper and captain for the day, Lydia Williams, was largely unoccupied as the staunch visiting defence kept Brisbane very much at bay in the opening quarter.

Therefore it came as somewhat of a surprise when Brisbane took the lead in the 22nd minute. A cross from the left was flicked on by Lana Harch, hit the crossbar, and rebounded kindly for Tameka Butt to steal between the United centre-back pairing and stab the ball into the net from close range.

Having gained the ascendancy the home team almost doubled their lead fifteen minutes before the break when Aivi Luik headed strongly at goal from the penalty spot but was denied by a well-positioned Williams who gratefully clutched the ball to her chest with two Roar attackers lurking. And Williams had to be on her toes again minutes later palming a Butt cross-shot onto the crossbar as Brisbane looked menacing.

To their credit United regrouped and with Cian Maciejewski and Sally Shipard starting to dictate terms in the centre of the field Junna-s team finished the half strongly with Shipard testing Dumont-s reflexes from long-range.

It took just sixty seconds for Canberra to create the first chance of the second half after a lung-bursting run from Munoz ended with a square pass that bounced fortuitously to Heyman, who really should have hit the target rather than blaze over the crossbar with the goal at her mercy from just outside the six-yard box.

Whatever Junna had said to the team at the interval seemed to have the desired effect though as the green-clad players swarmed onto the attack. In the 51st minute Munoz used her physical strength to turn and release Heyman but the former Westfield W-League Golden Boot-s strike lacked the power and conviction to trouble Dumont.

United almost paid for their profligacy when a low ball into the area deflected horrendously off the retreating Caitlin Cooper and looked for all the World like it would loop into the net only for Williams to arch back and tip the ball over the bar for a truly sensational save. That moment lifted the team and barely a minute later United were level.

Shipard clipped a superb ball over the Roar defence and Munoz slashed a left foot drive past a stranded Dumont for a brilliant equaliser much to the delight of the travelling United supporters. Having got back on level terms the match was there for the taking for both teams and Brisbane responded by introducing Matildas striker Lisa De Vanna for the industrious Harch.

De Vanna had an almost instant impact breaking away down the left channel and swinging over a delightful cross that Joanne Burgess volleyed wide from close range when any shot on target would surely have resulted in a Roar goal. At the other end Heyman went close for United before Williams blocked a Butt diving header as the match swung from end-to-end developing into an epic contest in the sweltering Queensland heat.

The intensity didn-t let up until the final minutes when United almost stole the match. Heyman showed excellent strength to hold off Kim Carroll and force a shot towards goal that Dumont did well to block before the final whistle sent the contest into extra-time.

The Roar were first to strike in extra-time when a deep cross from Laura Alleway eluded the United defence and found the unmarked substitute Kennya Cordner who slid the ball through Williams- legs with the outside of her right boot. Incredibly within thirty seconds Canberra was level.

The all-action Maciejewski somehow found the energy to burst into the box only to see her low effort magnificently blocked by Dumont. Fortunately for United the ball rebounded to Heyman who coolly side-footed into the roof of the net from just inside the penalty area to square up the ledger and rack up her seventh goal of the season.

De Vanna should have restored the Roar-s lead during the second period of extra-time but contrived to head over the bar from the edge of the six-yard box after getting on the end of a wicked curling cross from the impressive Cordner. Despite no lack of effort on the part of two weary sets of players, neither side could find the decisive breakthrough and the match moved into penalties.

MATCH STATISTICS

Brisbane Roar 2 (Tameka Butt 22-, Kennya Cordner 96-) Canberra United 2 (Caitlin Munoz 55-, Michelle Heyman 97-) (HT 1-0) - after extra time, score at 90 mins 1-1) Brisbane Roar wins 4-2 on penalties Saturday 5th February 2011 Ballymore, Brisbane Kick off 2.05pm (local)

BRISBANE ROAR: 1. Casey DUMONT (gk), 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE (2. Laura ALLEWAY 81-), 5. Brooke SPENCE, 6. Joanne BURGESS (18. Kennya CORDNER 87-), 7. Kim CARROLL, 8. Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 10. Lana HARCH (19. Lisa DE VANNA 56-), 11. Aivi LUIK, 13. Tameka BUTT, 14. Amy CHAPMAN, 16. Lauren COLTHORPE Substitutes not used: 3. Karla REUTER, 20. Kate STEWART (gk)

CANBERRA UNITED: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2. Caitlin COOPER, 4. Michelle HEYMAN (9. Grace GILL 109-), 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 10. Emily VAN EGMOND (22. Georgia YEOMAN-DALE 87-), 11. Cian MACIEJEWSKI, 13. Nicole SYKES, 14. Ashleigh SYKES (19. Jennifer BISSET 76-), 15. Sally SHIPARD, 16. Ellyse PERRY Substitutes not used: 18. Grace FIELD, 20. Jocelyn MARA (gk)

Match Officials: Jacqui MELKSHAM (referee), Airlie KEEN, Tanya DE BOER, Kate JACEWICZ (4th official)

DISCIPLINE: YELLOW CARDS: 5. Brooke SPENCE, 19. Lisa DE VANNA (both Brisbane Roar), 10. Emily VAN EGMOND (Canberra United)

PENALTY SHOOT-OUT: Lauren COLTHORPE (Roar) saved 0-0, Sally SHIPARD (United) 0-1, Kim CARROLL (Roar) 1-1, Ellie BRUSH (United) hit bar 1-1, Tameka BUTT (Roar) 2-1, Caitlin COOPER (United) 2-2, Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT (Roar) 3-2, Ellyse PERRY (United) saved, Casey DUMONT (Roar) 4-2