A trip to Victoria is next on the agenda for Canberra United in the penultimate round of the Liberty A-League season as the greens head South and a liaison with the top-of-the-table Western United.
Following late heartbreak in the 1-1 draw with Melbourne Victory, United’s top-four hopes are hanging by a thread with even a maximum return from trips to Western and third-placed Melbourne City not guaranteed to give Canberra a place in the end of season finals competition.
It could have been so different had that effort from Michelle Heyman not clattered off the inside of both posts against Victory, or one of numerous opportunities been taken to add to Kennedy Faulknor’s 72nd minute strike, but such are the vagaries of football.
Victory’s 88th minutes leveller puts them in the box seat, but Canberra cannot worry about what the opposition are up to as they face a Western United team that are sensing history, currently two points clear at the top of the pile.
There is also, of course, the unmentionable. The horror 45-minutes at McKellar Park back in Round 12 when everything that could go wrong did, and Canberra went into the changing rooms staring at a five-goal deficit for the first time in their illustrious and storied Liberty A-League history.
Redemption is a word used a lot in sport, but Canberra knows that they are a better side than the one that was ruthlessly exposed by a rampant Western. Recent results have certainly proven so.
An unbeaten six-match run, notwithstanding the cruel deduction of three competition points against Sydney FC, stands testament to the recovery of a group of players who have never shirked responsibility, never given in, and are ready to storm the heartlands of Victoria and return with the prize.
Canberra have, of course, never played Western United away before, and this trip into the unknown will pose many questions for Head Coach Njegosh Popovich and his group.
Can Canberra bounce back from the disappointment of a late concession against Victory? Will they banish the memories of that home defeat? Can the team lift itself off the canvas and grab the maximum points haul to keep the pressure mounted on those currently in the final’s places?
The team in green and their band of loyal supporters certainly believe so.
Saturday 25 March
Western United v Canberra United
(City Vista Recreation Reserve, 15:00)
Live streaming on 10Play and Paramount+