Canberra United shot to the top of the Westfield W-League with a crushing 5-1 win over Brisbane Roar in Gosford.
Canberra United’s home away from home played host to a Canberra clinic on Sunday, as United saw off Brisbane Roar 5-1 in Gosford to go top of the Westfield W-League ladder.
Clare Hunt picked up her first ever W-League start in the absence of Ellie Brush, and contributed to a commanding backline performance that denied Brisbane time after time,
Nickoletta Flannery started for the second week in a row and turned in a Player of the Match performance with two goals and an assist, while winning the penalty that saw Steph Ochs convert from the spot to make it 2-0.
Her first was a superb effort, turning her defender on the edge of the Brisbane area before firing low into the bottom corner, giving United the lead after just 13 minutes of the game.
Just 15 minutes later, Flannery worked her way into the 18-yard box before drawing a foul from Kaitlyn Torpey, and Steph Ochs stepped up to take the penalty.
Michelle Heyman had the ball in the net moments later but was harshly called offside, as United set the tone for the match with a blistering first half-hour.
United coach Rae Dower said that the fast start was a key to United’s performance as they refused to allow Brisbane to find a rhythm.
“I think that the girls were really sharp right from the warmup,” she said.
“And they took that right into the game. We didn’t let them [Brisbane] settle on the ball. Our ball movement was really crisp, and we were creating chances. It was good to get a reward so early and then to back that up with another few chances. A 2-0 lead was pretty deserved for the amount of chances we created.”
The game really came alive in the second half however, as United blitzed their opponents with a six-minute, three-goal spell that had the crowd in a frenzy.
Ashleigh Sykes grabbed her first goal after 50 minutes as she latched onto a delightful through ball from Grace Maher, before Flannery tucked her second home three minutes later following Angela Beard’s terrific goal-line clearance from a Michelle Heyman header. And then Sykes doubled her tally in the 56th as Flannery set her free down the left channel to finish tidily.
Dower said that while the first half was impressive, there were still changes to make at the break, with immediate effect.
“We addressed a few key points at HT,” she said.
“And straight away in the second half we were able to capitalise with that three goal burst that put the game to bed.”
“The pleasing thing is that we were able to give some more minutes to young Karly [Roestbakken], get Jasmyne [Spencer] some minutes back on the field after injury, and give Hughesy [Laura Hughes] a debut 15 minutes or so.”
Dower also praised defender Hunt, impressive in her first W-League start and the entire team for a great performance.
“Clare in her first start was great, very solid defensively and her distribution was good, and she could have almost scored there in the first half from a couple of corners.”
“All-round it was a great team performance, with all fourteen players who took to the park performing very well. Kinga, Celeste and Gracie [Maher] were all brilliant in midfield.”
Emily Gielnik grabbed a consolation in the dying minutes for Brisbane as United cruised home to rub out trudy Burke’s clean sheet, but it would take more than that to dampen the spirits of a United side heading top after five matches undefeated.
United’s next game will come against Melbourne Victory on the 28th December at AAMI Park.