Canberra United have fallen to Wellington Phoenix by two goals at Porirua Park in an open encounter in Round 14 of the 2023/24 Liberty A-League Womens.
Canberra spent much of the opening ten minutes under the pump as Wellington came close early on through Mariana Speckmaier and Zoe McMeeken, however the defensive unit held strong to keep the Phoenix out.
It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, as Canberra had opportunities of their own with four corners in the opening 18 minutes to put the Wellington defense under pressure.
Deven Jackson had the best chance of the opening 20 minutes, a well struck effort in a crowded penalty area going just over the bar.
Cannon Clough showed incredible composure in defence, using some great footwork to slip away from two Wellington attackers and start Canberra on the counter.
The Phoenix did have the ball in the back of the net following a corner in the 27th minute, but the referee disallowed it for a foul on Chloe Lincoln.
Sasha Grove had a great chance of her own, cutting in from the left to send the ball narrowly wide to the right of goal.
It looked likely that the sides would head into the sheds at half-time with the scores level, only for Mariana Speckmaier to open the scoring in the 43rd minute.
The hosts came out firing at the start of the second half, but the centre back pairing of Cannon Clough and Sarah Clark were standing strong.
Wellington doubled their lead six minutes into the half, with Speckmaier heading home from a corner.
They could have had a third not long after, only to be denied by a goal line clearance from Sasha Grove.
A little over 20 minutes from time, and Canberra were presented with a great opportunity to pull one back as Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Rylee Foster was shown a straight red card for a foul in the box.
Cote Rojas stepped up only to the spot only to have her effort denied by the substitute goalkeeper Brianna Edwards.
With a one player advantage, Canberra were on the attack for the final 20 minutes. Rojas, along with Michelle Heyman and Vesna Milivojevic peppered the Wellington goal, unlucky not to find the back of the net.
Despite throwing absolutely everything at them, Canberra couldn’t break down a resolute Wellington defence, with the final score being two goals to nil in favour of the hosts.
Canberra United are next in action on February 4, hosting Melbourne City at McKellar Park.