Victory task will be tough test

Canberra United welcomes Melbourne Victory to McKellar Park for Round 9 of the Westfield W-League

Canberra United welcomes Melbourne Victory to McKellar Park for Round Nine of the Westfield W-League bringing to a conclusion a run of three consecutive home matches and in the knowledge that the Victorians were the team that ended United-s record-breaking eighteen match unbeaten run in mid-November. A depleted Canberra team was swept aside at Wembley Park, Box Hill by a rampant Victory led by the highly impressive Welsh international Jenna Fishlock. The performance from Melbourne in that match caused many to believe that they have what it takes to go on and claim a maiden title in 2012/13. But a match against Canberra at McKellar Park, and a nearly full strength Canberra at that, is a different type of challenge altogether.

This will be Melbourne-s sixth visit to the national capital and it-s fair to say they don-t enjoy the trip. Victory has never won in Canberra with the best they have managed a 1-1 draw on 20th November 2010 when an injury time equaliser from Maika Ruyter-Hooley denied Canberra the three points that had seemed odds on after Caitlin Cooper had given the home team a sixth minute lead with her first goal for the club. That draw is Victory-s only bright spot though as it comes sandwiched between a pair of defeats either side.

The first match at McKellar Park was in Season 1 when Amy Chapman emerged as the goal hero with an incredible last-gasp strike in a game that featured three goals in the closing stages of a dramatic encounter. Ellie Brush and Kara Mowbray were United-s other scorers in a 3-2 success in front of a bumper pre-Christmas crowd of 1,152. Season 2 brought a more prosaic type of Canberra win as a double from new signing Tseng Shu-O secured a 2-0 win for the home side. The Chinese Taipei striker struck either side of the half-time interval to keep the three points in the capital and push Canberra towards a semi-final berth. Following the 1-1 draw in Season 3 the teams met twice at McKellar Park last season with United coming out on top on both occasions.

The first meeting was in Round 4 when goals from Ashleigh Sykes and Taryn Hemmings, the latter registering her first goal for Canberra, helped the green team to a 2-1 win and a fourth win in a row at the start of an unforgettable campaign. OF course the clubs were destined to collide in the semi-final stage where Michelle Heyman popped up seven minutes from time to rifle in a deflected winner and send United into the Grand Final. Victory though has often had the upper hand in Melbourne in a fixture that definitely favours the home side. With both teams desperate for points to keep up their challenge for a place in the top four we are sure to be in for a cracking match.

Canberra-s back-to-back wins over Perth Glory and Newcastle Jets have put them up to third on the ladder and right back into the title race. As tough as it is to call, Canberra knows that a revenge win over the Victory is a must if they are to harbor ambitions of defending the title.

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, 17. Ariane Hingst, 18. Samantha Wood, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 20. Trudy Burke, 21. Nikki Washington

In: 2. Caitlin Cooper (back from injury)

Unavailable: 9. Grace Gill (injured), 14. Ashleigh Sykes (injured)