United aim to get back on track

Canberra United travels to Leichhardt Oval this weekend to face Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League.

Sydney FC v Canberra United (Leichhardt Oval, kick off 10am)

Canberra United travels to Leichhardt Oval this weekend to face Sydney FC in what could well be a crucial clash in the Westfield W-League. The reigning champions slipped down the pecking order last weekend as the teams around them took advantage of Canberra-s absence at the International Women-s Club Championship to push United down to sixth on the ladder ahead of a testing trip to New South Wales.

This fixture marks the start of a busy, and vital, week for Canberra United in the national competition as they face table-topping Perth Glory on Wednesday (5th December) before rounding out a hectic schedule with another home match against Newcastle Jets (8th December). This tie with the Sky Blues therefore takes on even greater significance as, if United fail to get points from the match, they may begin to slip off the pace.

That said the team arrives back in Australia in a confident mood despite losing both games on their historic adventure in Japan. A 0-4 defeat to INAC Kobe Leonessa was followed by a narrow, last-gasp, loss to NTV Beleza in the third/fourth place play off with United having led three times against the Japanese opposition. Jennifer Bisset racked up a first Canberra goal and there was encouraging signs from both Michelle Heyman and Hayley Raso who netted fine goals to keep Canberra in with a shout.

Goalkeeper Trudy Burke made some outstanding saves in the two matches and with Mackenzie Arnold receiving a brace of caps on Australia-s East Asian Football Federation qualification campaign, Head Coach Jitka Klimkova is spoilt for choice between the posts. Further forward Ashleigh Sykes will be unavailable for the Sydney match as she struggles to recover from the hip injury sustained early on in the 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers whilst both Grace Gill and Ariane Hingst are doubts after picking up knocks in Japan.

The Sky Blues meanwhile look in great shape with former Canberra United players Ellyse Perry and Emma Kete settling in well into their new environment. Perry has been a good source of assists for the Sky Blues thus far and Kete has found the net three times in six matches. Keeping a lid on the pace of Kete and that of her fellow in-form strikers Chloe Logarzo and Sam Kerr will be paramount for the Canberra defence.

Sydney hasn-t been the happiest of hunting grounds for United in the Westfield W-League to date with one win from three clashes in NSW. That came last year when an Ashleigh Sykes goal after 18 minutes decided the outcome in Canberra-s favour. That was the first success the club enjoyed in six matches with Sydney. Indeed, only three goals have been registered against the Sky Blues with Caitlin Munoz (06/12/08 in a 1-1 draw at McKellar Park) and Ellie Brush (10/10/09 in a 1-2 defeat at McKellar Park) having breached the tough Sydney back-line.

Brush should be back from suspension to play what would be her 49th Westfield W-League match for the club and will take over the captain-s armband from Caitlin Munoz who led the team in the defeat at Melbourne Victory.

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, 10. Snez Veljanovska, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Sykes, 15. Sally Shipard, 16. Catherine Brown, 18. Samantha Wood, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 20. Trudy Burke

In:1. Mackenzie Arnold (back from international duty), 7. Ellie Brush (back from suspension), 11. Michelle Heyman (back from international lay-off), 15. Sally Shipard (back from international lay-off) Unavailable:9. Grace Gill (injured), 14. Ashleigh Sykes (injured), 17. Ariane Hingst (injured)