City triumph in mouth-watering clash in Gosford

By Corinthian (Paul Green):
Westfield Women’s League – Season 8 – 2015/2016 – Round 4
2:15pm, Sunday 8th November 2015 – Central Coast Stadium, Gosford

Canberra United FC 2 (Ashleigh Sykes 29′, Michelle Heyman 60′)
lost to
Melbourne City FC 4 (Mariana Tabain 5′, Larissa Crummer 11′, Aivi Luik 41′, Kim Little 87′)

Effectively, this game – played as a curtain-raiser to the Central Coast Mariners v Wellington Phoenix A League fixture – one of two to be staged as double-headers in Gosford this season – was a top-two clash, a match between the traditionally strong Canberra United and the newly-formed Melbourne City side which had carried all before it since the opening day of the new season.

It was a mouth-watering clash and it brought in some interested spectators from the ranks of the Mariners’ own fans, as well as a decent batch of travelling United followers.

The question was, would the all-conquering new kids on the block meet their match in the capital city hosts?

Quickly, the Melbourne visitors, resplendent in their familiar Melbourne Heart colours, made sure that the Canberra team knew they had a formidable opponent to deal with.

Lisa De Vanna, captain of the Melbourne team, was soon on the hunt for goals and was only denied in the opening minutes by an alert Lydia Williams in the Canberra goal, who came out smartly to gather at the Matildas’ striker’s feet.

That was a let-off, but a matter of only three minutes later De Vanna turned provider ,out wide on the left, laying on a pass for Jessica Fishlock to deliver a through ball that Marianna Tabain was able to tap in and open the scoring.

It became apparent quite early on, after that relatively easy goal, that the City team could go on and dominate this one.

Williams had to come out again in the tenth minute to thwart De Vanna, who ran onto a smart pass from Kim Little.

A minute later, however, De Vanna delivered the pass that allowed Larissa Crummer to beat the advancing Williams with a neat finish to make it 2-0.

It was shaping up as a bit of a drubbing already and one began to wonder how a star-studded Canberra side could have dropped out of favour so fast.

They were beginning to look a little ragged, but faith in their abilities was restored in the ensuing quarter-hour or so.

They managed to pull a goal back in the 29th, through a cool Ashleigh Sykes finish, thanks to a clever Caitlin Munoz pass, shortly after Munoz herself had tested City keeper, Trudy Burke, with a long-range shot that produced a full-length save.

Melbourne City returned fire, though, going close twice through Laura Allaway and De Vanna, before re-establishing their two-goal cushion in the 41st.

After De Vanna had struck the angle of the upright in the 38th, it was an angled shot from the left, by Aivi Luik, that provided the third goal of the half for the buoyant visitors.

To end the half Rebekah Stott went one-on-one with Williams in the dying moments, with the keeper tipping the attempt over the bar.

Things changed after the break as both sides looked to their respective benches.

City gave Tabain a breather, bringing on Beatrice Goad, while United coach, Raeanne Dower, introduced Meg McLaughlin in place of Julia De Angelis.

There was a shock for spectators in the 57th when Melbourne skipper, De Vanna, was given her marching orders after engaging in a tussle for possession out wide and throwing her arms out to ward off her opponent, which referee Lara Lee decided was a red card offence.

That meant only ten players were left to hold off the Canberra challenge and the ‘home’ side drew courage from that imbalance and began to look for another goal.

A cross from the left on the hour mark, by Canberra skipper, Nicole Begg, allowed Matildas’ star, Michelle Heyman, to finish well at the far post and make it 2-3, perhaps causing the visitors to think again about their apparent command of proceedings.

The Melbourne side regained its composure, however, finishing the game off strongly.

Star recruit, attacking midfielder, Kim Little, was showing up strongly as the game wore on and looked like scoring in the 68th, only for Lydia Williams to pull off a great save at point-blank range.

But newcomer Little would not be denied, as she made it 4-2 in the 87th, springing the offside trap out wide on the right and having a shot from an awkward angle that came back off the post.

A defender’s attempt to clear was not decisive enough and Little pounced on the loose ball to steer it over the line and complete a solid victory by the unbeaten competition leaders.

The absence of players from both sides, due to Matildas’ commitments, will make the games very interesting over the next two weekends, but City do have their foreign players to help in that regard, both Fishlock and Little looking very much the goods on this occasion.

Match details

Crowd:  tba (curtain raiser)

Canberra United FC: 1. Lydia Williams (GK);  13. Nicole Begg (C), 15. Emma Checker, 7. Ellie Brush, 18. Rebecca Kiting; 3. Julia De Angelis (8. Meg McLaughlin 68),  4. Kendall Fletcher; 6. Caitlin Munoz (16. Tegan Riding 84); 17. Veronica Perez, 11. Michelle Heyman, 14. Ashleigh Sykes
Subs not used: RGK 20 Melissa Maizels 5. Jenna McCormick

Yellow cards: Caitlin Munoz 21; Red cards: Nil
Coach: Raeanne Dower

Melbourne City FC: 20. Trudy Burke (GK);  4 Jennifer Beattie, 5. Laura Alleway; 13. Rebekah Stott, 10 Jessica Fishlock (C2), 6. Aivi Luik, 7. Stephanie Catley; 8 Kim Little (3. Alex Chidiac 90); 17. Marianna Tabain (16. Beatrice Goad 64), 9. Larissa Crummer (15. Amy Jackson 82), 11. Lisa De Vanna (C1)
Sub not used: RGK 36 Erin Herd

Yellow cards: Nil; Red card: Lisa De Vanna 57
Coach: Joe Montemurro

Points and ratings

Player points:
3. Kim Little (MC)
2. Jessica Fishlock (MC)
1. Caitlin Munoz (CU)

Match 7/10
Pitch 9/10

Referee: Lara Lee 6/10
Assistants: Nia Southwell and Delfina Dimoski