Canberra captain nets last gasp winner
By Arvind Hickman:
Westfield W-League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Round 6
4pm, Sunday 22 November, 2015 – Lambert Park
Sydney FC 0
Canberra United FC 1 (N. Begg 88)
CANBERRA United have beaten Sydney FC for the second time this season after a late Nicole Begg strike wrapped up all three points.
In a game where clear-cut chances were hard to come by, the United captain ghosted into the box to smash home a low Nicky Flannery cross with only minutes to spare.
The strike lifts the defending champions to third on a congested W-League table. Sydney FC are eighth, but only two points adrift of second-placed Adelaide United.
United coach Rae Dower paid tribute to her captain’s determination in what could prove a vital goal for Canberra’s finals ambitions.
“For your left fullback to get to the back post at the 88th minute to get on the end of the cross, for me that signifies Canberra United, we all play for the full 90 minutes,” she told Back of the Net.
“We did create large parts of possession and just that final pass lacked a bit of decision making or was either too square or too hard, we probably just lacked that little bit of finesse in that final third.”
Although Sydney rallied strongly in the second half, Canberra controlled the first and created the better chances throughout, with Begg’s twin sister Ashleigh Sykes having an inspired game.
The defending champions, led by strong midfield performances from Caitlin Munoz and Veronica Perez, moved the ball around patiently and generally had a better structure to their attack.
Sydney FC, who improved as the game wore on, looked most dangerous with quick counters that exploited the pace and tenacity of Jasmyn Spencer up front.
Both sets of defenders deserve special praise, particularly Sydney FC’s centre-back pairing of Alanna Kennedy and Elizabeth Ralston, who did well to contain the threat of United’s mobile front three Sykes, Jenna McCormick and Michelle Heyman.
McCormick is a defender by trade but you couldn’t tell on this showing. She had a couple of early chances, and rattled the crossbar from an offside position.
Heyman was causing Teigen Allen all sorts of problems down Sydney’s left flank. After beating Allen to the byline, she sent a deep cross to the unmarked Sykes who couldn’t keep her shot down.
Spencer almost cashed in on a United mistake when a misheaded ball fell into her lap. After doing well to beat a defender she couldn’t find the target with just Williams to beat.
Late in the half, a defence-splitting McCormick ball played Heyman through on goal, but the Matildas forward hesitated to pull the trigger and was expertly shackled by the Sky Blues defence.
In the second, a marauding Spencer run beat two players but her shot was well saved by Williams.
As the game opened up, both teams pushed bodies forward to find a goal, but it was United who created the better chances.
A through ball led to a footrace between Sykes and the rushing Michelle Betos, who was forced to leave her territory. The Sydney ‘keeper smothered the ball but her clearance ricocheted off the Canberra attacker and back towards goal. Sykes then beat Allen to the ball but could only find side-netting from a tight angle.
In the 79th minute, a tiring McCormick earned a well-deserved breather and was replaced by Flannery, whose impact was almost immediate. The 16-year-old, played down the right by Caitlin Munoz, squared a ball to Sykes but a last-ditch Natalie Tobin tackle momentarily saved the day.
In the 88th minute, an isolated Michelle Heyman did brilliantly to hold up a long ball and bring her teammates into play. She eventually fed Flannery, who beat a defender down the right side of the box and cut the ball back across goal to Begg who netted the winner.
A late Kennedy run almost inspired an equaliser, but the undercooked Princess Ibini-Isei couldn’t control the ball with just Williams to beat.
Next week, Sydney FC face a tough journey to Adelaide missing Matildas Kennedy, Amy Harrison and Kyah Simon. Canberra United take on fourth-placed Western Sydney Wanderers without Heyman, Williams and Caitlin Munoz.
As runaway leaders Melbourne City are a sure bet for the minor premiership, there are seven teams now battling it out for three semi-final spots.
1.Michelle BETOS, 2. Elizabeth RALSTON, 5. Jasmyn SPENCER, 6. Teresa POLIAS (c), 7. Nicola BOLGER (Princess IBINI-ISEI 85’), 8. Amy HARRISON, 11. Natalie TOBIN (Lyndsay KOHLET ’81), 14 Alanna KENNEDY, 15. Teigen ALLEN, 17. Kyah SIMON, 19. Leena KHAMIS
Coach: Daniel Barrett
Yellow: Teresa Polias 90′
1.Lydia WILLIAMS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK (Nickoletta FLANNERY 80’), 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUCH, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 13. Nicole BEGG (c), 14. Ashleigh SYKES (Tegan RIDING 89’), 15. Emma CHECKER, 17. Veronica PEREZ, 18. Rebecca KITING
Coach: Raeanne Dower
Referee: Casey Reibelt; Assistant referees: Delfina Dimoski, Lily David. Fourth official: Katie Patterson
Referee rating: 8/10
Game rating: 6.5/10
3 – Ashleigh Sykes (CU)
1 – Jasmyn Spencer (SFC)
1 – Jenna McCormick (CU)
1 – Elizabeth Ralston (SFC)