United face Sydney FC in semis after Adelaide victory

Canberra United will play Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League semi-finals next weekend after results combined to seal fourth spot on the ladder for the club and keep alive Grand Final aspirations.

Canberra United will play Sydney FC in the Westfield W-League semi-finals next weekend after results combined to seal fourth spot on the ladder for the club and keep alive Grand Final aspirations.

Canberra secured their place in the Westfield W-League finals with a convincing 3-0 win over Adelaide United at Deakin Football Stadium, but had a nervous wait for the result of the Perth Glory – Melbourne Victory match, with Glory-s win confirming finals football.

A goal from Ellie Brush, on the brink of half-time, and maiden Canberra United strikes from Emily Van Egmond and Ellyse Perry, secured the priceless three points on a warm afternoon at Deakin, while late goals from Lisa De Vanna and Katie Gill gave Perth a 2-0 win over Melbourne, and meant United claimed fourth spot on the ladder.

The results mean that United will face league champions Sydney FC for a place in the Grand Final next weekend.

Ray Junna made one change from the side that was beaten in Melbourne, re-shuffling his pack by bringing in defender Rebecca Kiting for Grace Gill and pushing Ellyse Perry further forward into midfield.

The re-jigged attacking line made its presence felt in the first-half as Canberra dominated possession, but failed to significantly trouble Adelaide goalkeeper Sian McLaren. Indeed, McLaren was only called into action on a couple of occasions in the first period.

Ashleigh Sykes had the best opportunities of the half for Canberra, forcing McLaren into a smothering save inside the first five minutes, as the ball squirmed towards goal before being cleared, before the Adelaide shot-stopper magnificently palmed a Sykes header onto the crossbar from a deft left wing cross from Shu O Tseng.

At the other end Canberra goalkeeper Lydia Williams was a virtual spectator, but when called into action proved her international class. Adelaide striker Racheal Quigley turned sharply on a bouncing ball 25 metres from goal and launched a speculative half-volley that stretched Williams to the max, the ‘keeper diving to her right to beat the ball away for a corner.

Just when it seemed that the half would end on a frustrating note for Canberra with the score sheet black, Ellie Brush claimed the vital breakthrough. In first-half stoppage time Canberra won a corner and, from Ellyse Perry-s superb in-swinging kick, Brush rose highest to plant a header firmly into the net at the near post.

The goal settled Canberra nerves, but Coach Ray Junna was hoping for a second to seal the result. United looked to have grabbed the decisive second goal midway through the second-half when Rebecca Kiting was left unmarked to head a Tseng cross into the net, only for the officials to rule that Perry-s initial corner kick had floated out of play – much to the bemusement of many who thought the goal had been awarded!

Canberra pressed for a killer second and Ashleigh Sykes found the pace to break clear one-on-one with McLaren. The striker did everything right, but saw her low drive blocked by the legs of the advancing McLaren.

Junna responded by introducing Grace Gill for Jennifer Bisset as United scented the goal that would keep alive their finals hopes. Much to the relief of the 785 crowd, it came with barely four minutes remaining.

Shu O Tseng was instrumental once more, latching onto a through ball and cutting back a pass into the path of the marauding Emily Van Egmond. The rest was sheer class as Van Egmond dummied to shoot, cut back, and placed a low drive into the corner of the net.

At 2-0 it was game over, but there was still time for a further Canberra goal to send the crowd home happy, United wrapping up the regular season in style with a brilliantly constructed third goal.

Substitute Snez Veljanovska, who had been on the field barely two minutes after replacing Tseng, reacted quickest to a ball into the left channel and fed a delightful low delivery across the face of goal to the onrushing Ellyse Perry who couldn-t miss from six yards, slamming the ball in from close range.

It was a fitting end to a fine afternoon for United but the celebrations were muted as all eyes switched westwards and nails were bitten as Perth and Melbourne faced off. Those late goals from the Glory gave Canberra the spot they craved and keeps alive the chances of a repeat Grand Final appearance.

Match Statistics

Canberra United Squad: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 2. Rebecca KITING, 3. Bronwyn STUDMAN (13. Thea SLATYER 51-), 5. Kahlia HOGG, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Emily VAN EGMOND, 10. Shu O TSENG (12. Snez VELJANOVSKA 88-), 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 15. Nicole SYKES, 16. Ellyse PERRY, 19. Jennifer BISSET (9. Grace GILL 64-)

Substitutes not used: 20. Jocelyn MARA (GK)

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Adelaide United Squad: 1. Sian McLAREN, 3. Renee HARRISON, 5. Ashlee FAUL, 7. Racheal QUIGLEY, 8. Ruth WALLACE, 9. Angela FIMMANO (19. Nenita BURGESS 78-), 11. Georgia CHAPMAN (Thomai KEZIOS 86-), 13. Lauren CHILVERS, 15. Tenneille BOALER (12. Katerina BEXIS 65-), 16. Christina PAPAGEORGIOU, 17. Karina ROWETH

Substitutes not used: Kristi HARVEY (GK)

Yellow Cards: Karina ROWETH 52′
Red Cards: Nil

Crowd: 785