Canberra United’s final home game of the Liberty A-League Women’s 2022/23 season ended in a draw against fellow top four hopefuls Melbourne Victory, with a late equaliser leaving Canberra on the brink of missing finals pending an appeal on the three-points deduction handed down to the club.
It was an end to end start to the high stakes encounter as both sides traded blows in the heat, with Canberra looking the more dominant, Holly Murray getting things started with an early shot going wide of the goal.
Some brilliant attacking play saw Vesna Milivojevic go on a strong run forward and hit a well weighted pass forwards for Michelle Heyman, but Casey Dumont was alive to the danger with the keeper shutting that attack down.
More great team play saw eight of the team involved in the build-up, the final cross not enough to threaten the Victory goal however.
Back in the side after being away on international duty with the Young Matildas, Chloe Lincoln was in fine form in goals, denying Victory’s Kayla Morrison’s effort off the back of a corner. Victory threatened again not long after with Melina Ayres sending the ball across the goal with no-one getting on the end of it.
A perfectly timed tackle from Hayley Taylor-Young launched United into a counter-attack, ending with Nickoletta Flannery denied by a last ditch block from Jessika Nash.
Lincoln again showed her class, as the young shot-stopper dived off her line to meet a cross from Lia Privitelli, with Canberra again going on the attack straight after. Grace Jale tried one from range, forcing Dumont into making a save with Flannery in close proximity.
Not long before the break and it looked as if Canberra would take the lead, as Milivojevic was denied by a strong save from Dumont, the Victory shot-stopper also denying Heyman not long after.
It was a similar game in the second half, with Victory getting on the front foot early only for a Taylor-Young clearance to shut down their attack and launch Canberra upfield.
Canberra’s dominance continued for much of the half, constantly threatening the Victory goal with Dumont standing tall for the visitors.
That attacking pressure from Canberra paid off in the 72nd minute, as Kennedy Faulknor put the side in front with her first A-Leagues goal. A goal mouth scramble following a corner ended with Faulknor putting the ball home with Dumont unable to make the save.
Chinese international Wu Chengshu showed her class to threaten late on but was denied by more strong saves from Dumont in goals.
Depsite incredible performances at both ends of the pitch from Canberra, Victory would snatch a late equaliser as Tiffany Eliadis found the back of the net.
Heyman nearly had the winner in stoppage time only for her shot to bounce off both goalposts before being cleared away.
That would be one of the final efforts of the match, ending in a one-all draw and leaving Canberra’s finals hopes hanging on.