Sykes special seals narrow win

A sensational solo goal from Nicole Sykes earned Canberra a hard fought 1-0 win over the Jets.

A sensational solo goal from Nicole Sykes earned Canberra United a hard fought 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets on a hot Saturday afternoon at Deakin Stadium. Sykes netted her maiden United goal ten minutes before the half-time break to secure a vital victory for the Champions and send them up into the top four.

A knee-injury sustained during Canberra-s midweek win over Perth Glory meant that Caitlin Cooper, who played her 50th career Westfield W-League match on Wednesday, was forced to sit out the encounter meaning that Jitka Klimkova had to re-jig her defensive line. Experienced German international Ariane Hingst dropped back to the centre of defence alongside skipper Ellie Brush with Sally Shipard drafted back into midfield for her first start of the season.

The signs were good early on for the home team with the width provided by Nikki Washington and Hayley Raso, allied to their electric pace, causing mischief in the Jets ranks. Too often though the final pass went astray leaving Michelle Heyman an isolated figure in the final third. With both midfields snapping into challenges meaningful action in and around the respective penalty areas was minimal.

United finally found the goal they were looking in the 35th minute although it came from an unlikely source. Nicole Sykes had never scored for Canberra before this match but the full-back, playing on the right flank, broke that particular duck in some style. Collecting the ball mid-way inside the Jets half Sykes set off on a solo run with her sudden burst of acceleration taking her away from the covering defence. Cutting inside Sykes sized up the opportunity and slid the ball across Campbell and into the far corner.

Having gained the initiative Canberra pressed for a second with Washington again in the thick of the build-up but had to settle for a single goal lead at the break.

Klimkova must have had a word or two to her team during the interval as they emerged from the changing rooms in top gear storming onto the offensive in an effort to get what could prove to be a crucial second goal. Heyman got in behind the Jets defence within minutes of the re-start but her touch was heavy and Campbell was quick off her line to smother. Seconds later Caitlin Munoz flicked on a Sykes throw-in and Raso burst clear but rushed her finished which was always rising as it cleared the crossbar.

The Jets hopes of finding a way back into the contest as handed a real blow in the 64th minute as midfield dynamo Emily Van Egmond was dismissed upon receiving a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge in midfield. It was a cruel blow for the former Canberra playmaker who had been enjoying a powerful match for her team being at the heart of the majority of their infrequent forays into Canberra territory.

Klimkova had earlier introduced Samantha Wood for Shipard as the intense heat made the going tough and Georgia Yeoman-Dale entered the fray alongside the Jets- Alisha Foote with fourteen minutes to play. To their credit the ten players of Newcastle continued to battle hard but Brush, in particular, was in a resolute mood snuffing out the sporadic Jets breakaways.

United pressed hard looking for more goals that would elevate them even further in the league ladder and substitute Yeoman-Dale almost provided the watching fans with a spectacular second in the 89th minute. Spotting Campbell off her line Yeoman-Dale sent in a superb lob that the Jets ‘keeper did especially well to push past the post. It mattered little in the final reckoning though as Canberra claimed three priceless points.

Canberra United 1 (Nicole Sykes 35-) Newcastle Jets 0 Attendance: 794

Canberra United: 1. Mackenzie Arnold, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Hayley Raso (5. Grace Field 88-), 11. Michelle Heyman, 13. Nicole Sykes, 15. Sally Shipard (18. Samantha Wood 59-), 16. Catherine Brown, 17. Ariane Hingst, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 21. Nikki Washington (3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale 77-)

Newcastle Jets: 1. Eliza Campbell, 2. Hannah Brewer, 3. Hayley Crawford (8. Madeline Searl 39-), 4. Gemma Pearce, 5. Tori Huster, 6. Angela Salem, 7. Gema Simon, 10. Emily Van Egmond, 12. Tiffany Boshers (9. Tara Andrews 59-), 16. Stacey Day, 18. Michaela Hatzirodos (15. Alisha Foote 77-)

Yellow Cards:10. Emily Van Egmond (Newcastle Jets) Red Card:: 10. Emily Van Egmond (Newcastle Jets)

Referee: Rebecca Durcau