Canberra United extended their W-League undefeated streak to six matches with a come-from-behind road win in Melbourne.
Canberra United extended their W-League undefeated streak to six matches on Wednesday with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park.
Tiring heat and humidity made things tough but the visitors eventually ground out the win in the dying minutes.
Head Coach Rae Dower admitted that while the weather did take a toll, United struggled to get into their normal gameplan from the off.
“It wasn’t our best performance,” Dower said.
“We went away from our good passing game, I think the heat and the humidity took it’s toll on both teams.”
“For large parts of the game the passing was off, the first touch was off, and it turned into a game of trasnsition at times.”
Celeste Boureille had an early chance following a great ball in from the left but poked her effort just wide of the Victory upright, before Natasha Dowie did the same with her chance up the other end as match started brightly.
Canberra struck trouble after just 10 minutes as Michelle Heyman was stretchered off the ground, with replays showing an awkward landing on her right ankle.
Jasmyne Spencer replaced her and looked to make an immediate impact, as she combined with Steph Ochs and Grace Maher on the edge of the area before the latter fired wide.
Victory however took the lead against the run of play after half an hour, with Natasha Dowie slotting calmly home from a delightful through pass from Christine Nairn.
United looked to respond immediately as they pressured Victory with a couple of corners up the other end, but could not convert as Victory held on.
Victory began to create more chances as Dowie loomed large, with the forward firing over after cutting inside late in the half before having a shot brilliantly saved by Trudy Burke moments later.
The game was a more even affair as the half approached, but Victory looked the better side late on as they went into the break a goal to the good.
Both sides came out evenly from the break, however Canberra drew level after seven minutes as Flannery whistled a superb strike across Mason-Jones in the Victory goal and into the far corner.
“I think it took us a little longer than we would have liked to settle after Michelle going off injured,” Dower said.
“To the girl’s credit though, they found a way to get back into the game, with a great strike from Nikki, and overall I think we did enough to get the three points today.”
United built off of Flannery’s goal, and began to push Victory back into their own half as they pressed for a goal to take the lead.
Both sides looked to create chances with the Nairn to Dowie combo causing the defence a bit of trouble, but the goalscorer was unable to capitalise.
The half wore on with both sides tiring in the intense heat, and United found a breakthrough in the dying minutes as livewire Hayley Raso won a handball spot-kick against Christine Nairn.
Sykes converted with a well-placed strike to earn United before Spencer was narrowly denied a sealer with a deft chip shortly after.
“We’re under no illusions that the performance wasn’t good enough,” she said.
Despite some late Victory pressure, United held on, and stretched their undefeated streak to six matches, something Dower credited their comeback to.
“I think it’s a sign of a good team,” she said.
“That we can still grind out the win, on the back of the confidence of our last few weeks even though we weren’t at our best today.”
“We need to continue winning games in this league, we’ll recover well over the next few days and iron out a few kinks from today and look forward to the game in Sydney on the 3rd.”
United will face Sydney FC at Lambert Park on the 3rd of January, looking to make an impact on the top end of the table.
Melbourne Victory 1 (Natasha DOWIE 30′) Canberra United 2 (Nickoletta FLANNERY 52′, Ashleigh SYKES 89′)
Melbourne Victory: 2. Alexandra NATOLI, 5. Alexandra GUMMER, 6. Annabel MARTIN, 9. Natasha DOWIE, 10. Christine NAIRN (C), 13. Laura SPIRANOVIC, 15. Adriana TARANTO, 16. Samantha JOHNSON, 17. Gulcan KOCA, 20. Bethany MASON-JONES(GK) 25. Kariah WHITE
SUBS: 1. Bianca HENNINGER, 7. Lia PRIVITELLI, 8. Ayesha NORRIE, 11. Melindaj BARBIERI
Canberra United: 1. Trudy BURKE (GK), 2. Yukari KINGA, 4. Clare HUNT, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 10. Grace MAHER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN (C), 12. Hannah BREWER, 13. Celeste BOUREILLE, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY, 22. Stephanie OCHS
SUBS: 8. Hayley RASO, 9. Jasmyne SPENCER, 15. Emma CHECKER