Melbourne Victory has ended Canberra United’s record-breaking unbeaten run with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Wembley Park in Box Hill.
Melbourne Victory has ended Canberra United-s record-breaking unbeaten run with a comfortable 3-0 victory at Wembley Park in Box Hill on a warm Saturday afternoon. A depleted United battled hard but were undone by a spirited Victory outfit, led by the outstanding Jessica Fishlock, who netted once and generally ran the game showing just why she was voted English FA Super League Player of the Year in a dominating display.
A combination of injuries and unavailability saw Canberra without Captain Ellie Brush, midfield maestro Sally Shipard, Golden Boot winner Michelle Heyman, goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, striker Ashleigh Sykes and winger Hayley Raso forcing Coach Jitka Klimkova into a number of changes from the team that drew 1-1 with Western Sydney Wanderers, handing a first Westfield W-League start to young defenders Sally Rojahn and Catherine Brown. In addition Grace Gill was handed a maiden start of the season in the unaccustomed position of centre-forward as United looked to keep up pace at the top of the table.
Heading into the match on the back of an eighteen match unbeaten run United was keen to lay to rest a hoodoo that has seen them win only once in five visits to Victoria but the opening exchanges were scrappy with the Victory-s new central midfield pairing of Welsh international skipper Fishlock and Swede Petra Larsson determining the pace of the game with Canberra happy to bed in their new line-up.
Chances were few and far between in the early exchanges with neither side able to make a clear-cut opening in front of a healthy crowd. Caitlin Munoz, captain for the day in the absence of the suspended Brush, tried her luck from distance but was wayward in her effort in Canberra-s best opportunity in the first quarter of the match but it was the hosts who took the lead just before the half-hour mark.
A slide-rule through ball from Cindy Lay freed the impressive Fishlock and the Victory newcomer had the pace, aggression and strength to get away from the back-tracking Rojahn, who did her best to hold up the run, before showing the composure to step around the advancing Trudy Burke to slot the ball into the far corner of the net to put Melbourne 1-0 up.
Lay then curled an effort that flashed tantalisingly wide of the Canberra United goal as Victory turned the screw with Canberra attempting to find a foothold in the match. Nicole Sykes was putting in a good stint on the left flank and it was from a penetrating run that United almost fashioned an equaliser five minutes before the break. A low cross into the area was brilliantly flicked, back-heel, by Munoz that forced Victory shot-stopper Cassandra Dimovski into a decent save low down.
It was Melbourne who struck next though moments before half-time with a second goal to take firm command of the match. A cross into the area was only half-cleared and fell kindly to Jessica McDonald who crashed her shot into the roof of the net past Burke from close range. Klimkova stated at the start of the season that United was on a mountain climb and they certainly were heading into the changing rooms 2-0 adrift and staring at the end of their unbeaten run.
Victory almost made it three within two minutes of the re-start as Fishlock crafted an opening for Enza Barilla who sent a cross-shot beyond Burke and inches wide of the post. United-s response saw Brown cross deep into the area for Gill who headed wide under pressure, before Munoz screwed a great chance wide having broken through, as Canberra searched for the goal that would put them back into the contest.
With Gill dropping back into midfield Canberra began to finally gain some meaningful possession with Munoz freed further forward and causing issues for the Victory defence. Munoz continued to look United-s best chance for a goal and her quick feet fashioned a chance in the 55th minute only for Dimovski to push the shot past the post for a corner. If that save was good then Burke-s denial of Fishlock in the 65th minute was nothing short of sensational, Burke flying across her goal to push a stinging shot wide.
From the resultant corner Jessica Humble reacted fastest and saw her effort thunder back down off the under-side of the bar and away to safety. Canberra needed some impetus and Klimkova introduced Samantha Wood for Gill as the visitors went for broke with twenty minutes left to play. But it was the Victory who went further ahead ten minutes from time. A corner was allowed to bounce in the box and Enza Barilla showed the sharpest reactions to pounce on the ball inside the six-yard box and ram home the third, and killer, goal.
Canberra continued to press to try and get a consolation goal as Georgia Yeoman-Dale kept the Victory defence on their toes but the home side was always in control and saw out the remainder of the match with little trouble.
Saturday 17th November 2012 Round 5 Melbourne Victory 3 (Jessica Fishlock 28-, Jessica McDonald 45-, Enza Barilla 80-) Canberra United 0 (Wembley Park, Box Hill)
Melbourne Victory: 20. Cassandra Dimovski, 2. Danielle Johnson, 3. Maika Ruyter-Hooley, 4. Rebekah Stott, 6. Petra Larsson, 10. Jessica McDonald, 13. Enza Barilla (9. Tiffany Eliadis 85-), 16. Gulcan Koca, 17. Cindy Lay (12. Jacqueline Vogt 61-), 22. Jessica Fishlock, 23. Jessica Humble (5. Laura Spiranovic 78-) Canberra United: 20. Trudy Burke, 2. Caitlin Cooper, 3. Georgia Yeoman-Dale (10. Snez Veljanovska 85-), 4. Christine Walters, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 9. Grace Gill (18. Samantha Wood 70-), 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Sykes, 16. Catherine Brown (5. Grace Field 90-), 17. Ariane Hingst, 19. Jennifer Bisset
Yellow Cards: 13. Enza Barilla, 22. Jessica Fishlock (Melbourne Victory), 12. Sally Rojahn (Canberra United)
Referee: Casey Reibelt Attendance: 575