Michelle Heyman scored her 99th Liberty A-League goal as Canberra United earned a battling point against Sydney FC, putting in an impressive performance to earn a 1-1 draw at Leichhardt Oval on a humid Wednesday night.

United went with the same eleven that had earned a point with the 1-1 draw against Western United on the weekend, the only change in the squad seeing Madelyn Whittall brought onto the bench in place of Holly Murray, the Canberra Olympic National Premier League striker in line for a first appearance at this level since 2019.

The first strike of note came from Kiwi international Deven Jackson, the United forward latching onto a loose ball from new Sky-Blue recruit Jordan Thompson inside five minutes, but unable to lift her effort over Jada Whyman in the home goal.

There was a blow for Canberra early on as Emma Ilijoski was forced off the park in the eighth minute, rolling her ankle in the process of blocking a cross, and being replaced by Ruby Nathan meaning that Vesna Milivojevic dropped deeper.

The Jackson moment aside, it was Sydney FC who enjoyed the lions share of possession and territory and it was therefore little surprise when they took the lead halfway through the opening stanza, although there did appear to be a hint of offside about the finish, superbly taken by Aideen Keane from an astute Mackenzie Hawkesby through-ball.

Canberra levelled somewhat against the run of play with a superb leveller in the 32nd minute. Nickoletta Flannery made inroads down the right channel and squared a wonderful pass into the path of ace striker Heyman who clinically swept a first-time finish beyond Whyman.

An even contest ensued with both teams enjoying spells without overly threatening the respective goalkeepers, the second-half beginning in much the same vein, Sydney going closest just before the hour as Kirsty Fenton was found free in the penalty area, but mistimed her header, failing to test Chloe Lincoln.

Canberra sent on Whittall to add some spice to their attack, the Canberra Olympic striker making her first appearance in green since February 2019, but it was Lincoln who was called into action, the custodian making a brilliant low save with her legs from a Hawkesby drive.

At the other end Canberra were denied what looked like a stonewall penalty when Taylor Ray almost hauled the shirt off the back of Jackson as the New Zealander burst into the area, but to the disbelief of the Canberra party, the shout was dismissed by the officials.

Sydney continued to look threatening on the break, however it was Heyman who almost struck the winner, shooting wide from the right side of the penalty area after Milivojevic had played her in.

The home team did have the ball in the net four minutes from time when Jynaya Dos Santos rammed home a loose ball inside the six-yard box, but the whistle had already been blown for a foul on defender Sarah Clark.

Popovich sent on Cote Rojas and Tegan Bertolissio for the final ten minutes, including added time, before Lincoln denied Charlotte McLean in stoppage time with a magnificent tip over the bar to preserve the status quo.


Sydney FC (1) 1 (Keane 23’) Canberra United (1) 1 (Heyman 32’)

TEAM: 1. Chloe LINCOLN, 3. Sarah CLARK, 5. Emma ILIJOSKI (9. Ruby NATHAN 8’, 28. Tegan BERTOLISSIO 88’), 8. Sasha GROVE, 10. Mary STANIC-FLOODY, 11. Deven JACKSON, 13. Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON (7. Maria ROJAS 88’), 17. Vesna MILIVOJEVIC, 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY (16. Madelyn WHITTALL 60’), 22. Cannon CLOUGH, 23. Michelle HEYMAN


YELLOW CARDS: 9. Ruby NATHAN, 13. Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON (Canberra United)