Sykes rescues a point

A late strike from Ashleigh Sykes has helped Canberra United come from two goals down to earn a thrilling 2-2 draw with Perth at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday.

A late strike from Ashleigh Sykes has helped Canberra United come from two goals down to earn a thrilling 2-2 draw with Perth at Members Equity Stadium on Sunday.

The Glory were on the verge of recording their second Westfield W-League victory of the season but a lapse in defence gave United striker Sykes time to accelerate into space and fire an 89th minute equaliser past Luisa Marzotto in the Glory goal.

In an entertaining encounter watched by a vocal crowd, the Glory took the lead in the 34th minute through midfielder Elisa D’Ovidio before star striker Lisa de Vanna doubled the advantage nine minutes after the re-start.

But with both goal scorers substituted by Glory coach Nicola Williams, the hosts lost their fluency as Canberra attacked heavily in the final 15 minutes, their pressure paying off as Caitlin Munoz was awarded a bizarre goal that initially looked to have been saved by Marzotto.

The result doesn’t alter the table, although Canberra will be the more satisfied as it gives the fifth-placed capital club the opportunity to still claim a top two position, while the last-placed Glory need a slice of luck to make the semi-finals at this stage.

Perth, though, initially seemed determined to make up for last week’s 4-1 loss to Newcastle. The hosts controlled possession for most of the half, setting up several attacks through Young Matilda Sam Kerr and Australian striker de Vanna.

De Vanna had the first chance for the Glory in the sixth minute, firing a 20-metre free kick over the bar but, although the Glory appeared in control, Canberra’s strikers still had the pace to threaten on the counter attack.

In the 17th minute, they almost pounced, with Ashleigh Sykes tackled as she looked to shoot, the ball spilling to Hayley Crawford who sent her shot over when she had time to fire past Glory stopper Marzotto.

Kerr forced a regulation save from ‘keeper Lydia Williams down the other end as the Glory continued to attack while D’Ovidio sent a shot narrowly wide of the upright in the 25th minute with Williams beaten.

But D’Ovidio didn’t wait long to open her account, giving the Glory the lead in the 34th minute when she pounced on a poor clearance, jinking her way past the defence and firing home beyond Williams, who had come off her line.

Three minutes before the break, Perth’s Ciara Conway forced a fine reaction save out of Williams but it was followed by an immediate counter from Canberra as Kara Mowbray raced onto the ball and accelerated into the area. But her shooting let her down and she fired over without testing Marzotto.

The miss would come back to haunt the visitors as Perth doubled its lead nine minutes after the break. D’Ovidio stole possession of the ball as United looked to build an attack, slipping it to Kerr as she broke down the right.

Kerr, the younger sister of West Coast Eagle Daniel, accelerated towards goal from the right and Williams could only punch her cross-cum-shot clear, with the ball falling to de Vanna to stab home.

The substitutions of D’Ovidio and de Vanna in the 70th and 73rd minutes respectively changed the contest, though.

D’Ovidio was replaced by Nicole Calautti, who displayed some extreme courage by opting to play the day after her mother tragically passed away.

But it was the substitution of de Vanna, who was suffered calf soreness last week at Newcastle and took several hits in this encounter, which robbed the Glory of momentum as her intensity was removed from the attack and Canberra’s defenders were suddenly allowed a more attacking role.

United midfielder Ellie Brush subsequently saw a 76th minute effort comfortably saved by Marzotta while another shot two minutes later from the same player went wide of the upright.

With nine minutes remaining, United pulled a goal back through Munoz. The second-half substitute’s powerful shot was tipped up through a superb reaction save by Marzotta, but instead of going over the bar, the ball remained in play, landing just before the line and spinning over.

Sensing a draw, Canberra upped the attack further. An 86th minute drive from Munoz was headed clear by Conway before Marzotta tipped another effort from Sykes onto the bar a minute later.

But United’s late efforts eventually bore fruit as Sykes fired home a minute before time. The speedy striker took advantage of a defensive mistake by Perth’s Stacey Learmont, bursting into the area and shooting under Marzotta to earn her side a share of the points.

Match Details

Perth Glory 2 (Elisa D-Ovidio 34-, Lisa De Vanna 54-)
Canberra United 2 (Caitlin Munoz 81′ Ashleigh Sykes 89-)

Members Equity Stadium, Perth
Sunday 30 November
Referee: Lee Corey
Assistant Referees: Tim Mihevc & Josh Mihevc
Fourth Official: David Costello

Perth Glory: 30.Luisa MARZOTTO (gk), 2.Stacey LEARMONT, 3.Carys HAWKINS, 4.Sam KERR, 7.Ciara CONWAY, 8.Tanya OXTOBY (c), 10.Ella MASTRANTONIO, 11.Lisa DE VANNA (6.Katarina JUKIC 74-), 13.Elisa D-OVIDIO (12.Dani CALAUTTI 69-), 14.Collette McCALLUM, 17.Marianna TABAIN (9.Katy COGHLAN 89-)

Substitutes Not Used: 20.Maya DIEDERICHSEN (gk)

Yellow Cards: Ella Mastrantonio 27-, Stacey Learmont 63-
Red Cards: Nil

Canberra United 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Rhian DAVIES (17.Christine WALTERS 84-), 3.Amy CHAPMAN, 5.Sasha MCDONNELL, 7.Ellie BRUSH (c), 8.Rebecca KITING, 9.Grace GILL, 10.Hayley CRAWFORD, 12.Kara MOWBRAY (6.Caitlin MUNOZ 65-), 14.Ashleigh SYKES, 15.Nicole SYKES (19.Jennifer BISSET 56-)

Yellow Cards: Nicole Sykes 28-, Kara Mowbray 41-, Caitlin Munoz 83-
Red Cards: Nil