A 94th minute match-winner from Jessica Fishlock stunned Canberra United and gave Melbourne Victory a 2-1 win at McKellar Park.
A 94th minute match-winner from Jessica Fishlock stunned Canberra United and gave Melbourne Victory a 2-1 win at McKellar Park to send the Victorians above the champions and threaten United with the possibility of ending the weekend outside of the top four. Fishlock-s delicate chip in stoppage time capped an impressive game from the Player of the Match and ensured Melbourne did the double over Canberra.
United, having got back into the title race with a brace of wins last week, unsurprisingly named an unchanged side despite the recovery from injury of Caitlin Cooper who took a place on the bench, meaning Ariane Hingst continued in the central defensive position after passing a late-morning fitness test. Melbourne meanwhile named a strong looking starting eleven with dynamic Welsh international midfielder Fishlock the vital cog as an attacking midfielder.
It was the visitors who made the initial foray with a Petra Larsson free-kick just eluding the head of Amy Jackson in the 8th minute as Melbourne looked to repeat their success of earlier this season. This was a different looking Canberra team to the one that lost at Wembley Park though and one of the newcomers, Nikki Washington, used her pace to get in behind the defence but saw her effort blocked by Brianna Davey who was sharply off her line.
Shortly afterwards Michelle Heyman found space on the edge of the Victory penalty area to turn and send in a shot which lacked the pace to trouble Davey in the Melbourne goal. Heyman was looking lively though and a slick combination with Hayley Raso saw her in on goal only to be denied by an exquisitely timed tackle by Danielle Johnson. The 2011/12 Golden Boot then fired wide when well-placed following good work from Jennifer Bisset as Canberra upped the ante and put pressure on Mike Mulvey-s well-drilled outfit.
Melbourne though are not potential finals material for nothing and Canberra were thankful that Bisset was alive to clear a Jackson shot off the line with Mackenzie Arnold stranded after another pin-point Larsson delivery. And it was Jackson who broke the deadlock fourteen minutes before half-time. United failed to deal adequately with a corner and as the ball dropped towards the edge of the area Jackson returned it with a looping header that Bisset could only help into the roof of the net.
Raso then had a half-shout for a penalty turned away before Heyman was thwarted by a stunning save from Davey, the Victory ‘keeper reacting to a thumping drive on the turn with a strong arm to push the ball up and over the bar and preserve her teams half-time advantage.
The second half began with the rain sheeting down giving the playing surface that extra zip that players enjoy so much and United took advantage equalising five minutes into the second stanza. Sally Shipard tried her luck from range, with the ball bouncing off a Victory defender and dropping nicely for Bisset who thrashed a shot from just inside the area beyond the diving Davey and into the top corner for her first ever Westfield W-League goal.
With the sides now level the match was there for the taking for whoever could dictate the play, but with the rain incessant throughout the second forty-five minutes chances were few and far between. Munoz had worked hard in the centre of midfield and Klimkova gave her a break sixteen minutes from time sending on the returning Cooper and pushing Hingst further forward. The move almost paid dividends as Hingst combined with Shipard to tee up Washington whose curler crashed back off the crossbar with Davey beaten.
Victory responded with a fierce shot from Larsson in the 82nd minute that Arnold did well to dive across her goal and palm the ball around for a corner. Just as it seemed the game would end in a draw Fishlock broke the offside trap and lofted the ball over the advancing Arnold to claim all three points for Victory.
Canberra United 1 (Jennifer Bisset 50-)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Amy Jackson 31-, Jessica Fishlock 94-)
Canberra United: 1. Mackenzie Arnold, 6. Caitlin Munoz (2. Caitlin Cooper 74-), 7. Ellie Brush, 8. Hayley Raso, 11. Michelle Heyman, 13. Nicole Sykes, 15. Sally Shipard (18. Samantha Wood 82-), 16. Catherine Brown, 17. Ariane Hingst, 19. Jennifer Bisset, 21. Nikki Washington (3. Georgia-Yeoman-Dale 74-)
Melbourne Victory: 1. Brianna Davey, 2. Danielle Johnson, 3. Maika Ruyter-Hooley, 4. Rebekah Stott, 6. Petra Larsson, 7. Stephanie Catley, 10. Jessica McDonald, 14. Enza Barilla, 15. Amy Jackson (18. Cindy Lay 87-), 17. Gulcan Koca (11. Caitlin Friend 64-, 23. Jessica Humble 76-), 22. Jessica Fishlock
Yellow Cards: 6. Caitlin Munoz, 8. Hayley Raso (Canberra United),10. Jessica McDonald, 23. Jessica Humble (Melbourne Victory)
Referee: Casey Reibelt