Canberra United see off Perth at McKellar

Ashleigh Sykes scored four goals, including three in the first half as Canberra United saw off Perth 7-2 in the capital

Four goals in 50 minutes from Ashleigh Sykes and strikes from Grace Maher, Stephanie Ochs and Hayley Raso saw Canberra United romp home to a 7-2 win at McKellar Park on Saturday afternoon.

The home side took a five-goal lead into half time thanks to some scintillating football and a first-half hat-trick from Sykes, before adding two more early in the second stanza to build an unassailable seven-goal margin.

Perth were able to score twice in the closing stages through Vanessa Di Bernardo and Sam Kerr, but the result still sees the visitors fall to third in the table on goal difference behind Canberra.

The home side got off to the perfect start in the sixth minute, as Jasmyne Spencer found Ashleigh Sykes at the near post and the in-form forward made no mistake from close range.

A tidy flick from Spencer five minutes later was then clawed off the line by Perth goalkeeper Melissa Maizels as United looked to double their advantage.

Samantha Kerr broke the line in the 16th minute as Perth looked to respond, but the forward was denied by Trudy Burke who was shown a yellow when she handled the ball outside the box. 

It was soon two for Canberra as Emma Checker set Jasmyne Spencer free down the right in the 19th minute and her ball found Sykes again who calmly rounded Maizels before rolling the ball home.

Stephanie Ochs added a third in the 24th minute after a great chip pass from Grace Maher caught the Perth defence napping to allow her in behind for a composed finish.

Maher had one of her own in the 33rd minute when Hayley Raso’s cross found her unmarked at the back post to tap home as Canberra turned the screws on the visitors, and Sykes completed her hat trick in the final minute of the half with another calm finish.

The second half opened as the first finished, with Sykes scoring after just 25 seconds to grab her 4th goal and Canberra’s sixth, while Hayley Raso put away the seventh four minutes later when Melissa Maizels could not keep out her strong drive.

Perth got on the board after 58 minutes as the visitors were awarded a penalty as Emma Checker and Kerr grappled in the box, and Di Bernado dispatched the spot-kick into the corner. 

Kerr grabbed a second for Perth in the 79th minute when the ball fell back to her after a Trudy Burke save and made no mistake on the second attempt.

The West Australian side looked to further cut the deficit in the final minutes, but Canberra remained comfortable in the closing stages to seal an impressive win just weeks before finals.