Christmas arrived early when Canberra United secured a berth in the Westfield W-League semi final’s courtesy of a last minute goal from Amy Chapman to win 3-2 over the Melbourne Victory at McKellar Park.
Christmas arrived early when Canberra United secured a berth in the Westfield W-League semi final-s courtesy of a last minute goal from Amy Chapman to win 3-2 over the Melbourne Victory at McKellar Park.
In a nail biter, three goals scored in as many minutes in the second half to see the Victory level the scores twice as the 1152 in attendance were all on the brink of heart attacks before Chapman sealed the three points and a finals spot in the 93rd minute.
Canberra-s Ellie Brush set the tone with the first goal of the match courtesy of spectacular goal in the 35th minutes despite the efforts of the Victory backline.
Brush-s initially hit the cross bar with a header from a Chapman corner before Sasha McDonnell followed up from the rebound but he attempt was cleared off the line with the Victory defence before the captain put the home side in front.
The visitors had the first chance of the game only five minutes from kick off when Sophie Hogben found herself in space but couldn-t beat Lydia Williams in goal with a shot directly into the arms of the goal keeper.
After Brush gave Canberra United the lead with her third goal of the season, McDonnell should have made doubled the lead when the striker found herself all alone on goal but a great stop by Victory keeper Melissa Barbieri kept her side in the game at half time.
It didn-t take long for the home side to nearly extend their lead in the second half when striker Caitlin Munoz cut inside at the top of the eighteen yard box but struck her shot just over the bar after only five minutes into the second stanza.
Seven minutes later, Canberra United continued to press forward as Munoz played a ball into the box from the left hand corner which sailed over everyone-s head including Barbieri but Chapman volleyed the opportunity over the gaping goal.
Victory nearly made Canberra United pay for the missed opportunity two minutes later when Selin Kurulay came within a coat of paint of levelling the scores when her shot beat Williams but struck the crossbar.
As time worn down, Melbourne continued to press forward and create opportunities in search for an equaliser but it was Canberra who nearly scored when the pacey McDonnell chased down a back pass which nearly defected straight to substitute Ashleigh Sykes after Barbieri tried to clear the ball.
From an angle Sykes should have put her side two goals to the better but managed to miss the target despite Barbieri stranded near the top of the box.
This time the visitors made Canberra pay for another missed chance when Sarah Groenewald levelled the scores after Williams was caught out of position and watched helplessly as the ball rolled into the back of the net in the 82nd minute.
With heads in hands around McKellar Park, Kara Mowbray sparked life into the stadium when she put the home side back in front only a minute later after the winger beat the defender before calmly slotting the ball home just inside the left hand upright.
Canberra looked to have secured a final-s spot for the second time in the game until Melbourne had other ideas when Marlies Oostdam found the back of the net over the out stretched arms of Williams just inside the far post after 85 minutes of play had passed.
The travelling Melbourne fans thought they had salvaged a point from the road trip north until last week-s provider turned goal scorer in the 93rd minute when Chapman found the top corner with a speculative left foot from about 30 metres out despite Barbieri getting her finger tips to it.
Winning goal scorer, Amy Chapman, credited her side for their patients and their hard work in Canberra United-s first home win of the season.
“It-s definitely exciting for us to get some points after 90 minutes of working hard,” Chapman said post match.
“Sometimes it-s backfired for us against the Central Coast and Newcastle when we lost in the final minutes but we stuck at it today and nearly let it slip away a couple of times but we kept our composure.”
“We were a bit disappointed to let in the goals we let in but the atmosphere was amazing.”
“The Canberrans really get out and support us.”
“It-s really exciting now being in the finals and hopefully even get a home semi.”
The home side confident regardless of who they end up meeting come semi final time with only one round remaining in the Westfield W-League season.
“If we play some quality football and take out chances I think we-re one of the only teams able to beat Queensland in this competition but it-s whether or not we-re about to capitalise on our opportunities we create.”
Canberra United is confident their season is back on track after the win over the Victory despite results not going their way earlier in the year.
“I think we-re gelling well now at the end of the season.”
“We made it difficult for ourselves by not getting points early on but it-s six games now undefeated which is pretty good lead up for our finals campaign.”
Chapman though didn-t go as far as to apologise for the heart ache the fan-s suffered during the thrilling match.
“We-re just keeping our fans on their toes and scoring in injury time also heaps but I think we-ve been playing consistently well away from home and maybe a few nerves play a role at home but today shows that we were the more composed and experienced team.”
But Chapman admits it-s a big relief to finally come away with the three points at home and get her first goal of the campaign.
“It-s really good to win in front of home fans who have been consistently coming out and supporting us and now we-re just excited to be in the finals.”
“I did say I was going to go for a run today because I wanted to get on the scoresheet but at the end of the day it-s a team game and I think we created a lot of opportunities and finally relieved to finally get one in.”
Canberra United: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 2. Rhian DAVIES (4. Bronwyn STUDMAN 62‘), 3. Amy CHAPMAN, 5. Sasha McDonnell (14. Ashleigh SYKES 72‘), 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Rebecca KITING, 10. Hayley CRAWFORD, 11. Cian MACIEJEWSKI, 12. Kara MOWBRAY, 13. Thea SLATYER
SUBS NOT USED: 19. Jennifer BISSET, 20. Maja BLASCH
GOALS: 7. BRUSH 35-, 12. MOWBRAY 83-, 3. CHAPMAN 90+3-
YELLOW CARDS: 2. DAVIES 37-, CHAPMAN 75-
RED CARDS: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 1. Melissa BARIERI, 2. Megan ARCHER, 3. Marlies OOSTDAM, 4. Tal KARP, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Maika RUYTER-HOOLEY, 9. Rebecca TEGG (7. Sarah GROENEWALD 52‘), 11. Brittany TIMKO, 12. Sophie HOGBEN (21. Sarah RICHARDSON 62‘ (10. Stephanie TANTI 88‘)), 14. Selin KURULAY, 15. Daniela DIGIAMMARCO
SUBS NOT USED: 20. Nicole PAUL
GOALS: 7. GROENEWALD 82-, OOSTDAM 85-
YELLOW CARDS: 2. ARCHER 22-
RED CARDS: Nil
REFEREE: Lee COREY