Canberra United have locked up second spot after downing Western Sydney Wanderers at McKellar Park.
Goals from Caitlin Munoz, Rebecca Kiting and Ashleigh Sykes were enough to see the hosts cruise to a comfortable victory over the Red and Black.
Needing a point to mathematically secure a home semi-final Canberra United was quick out of the blocks and hit the front in only the sixth minute. Midfielder Kendall Fletcher was integral to the early dominance of the home side and it was the American who sliced through the Wanderers defence to find Munoz who crashed her shot past the dive of Teagan Micah in the visitor’s goal.
It didn’t take long for United to double their lead and Fletcher was at the heart of the goal once more. Her raking cross deep to the far post found Kiting lurking unmarked and the defender nodded home her maiden Westfield W-League goal with minimal fuss.
The Wanderers fought back and almost halved the deficit just after the drinks break when a marauding run and cross from Erica Halloway was inches away from being converted by the lunging Michelle Carney who just failed to make contact. Shortly after Chloe O’Brien tried her luck from range but the ball was always drifting wide.
United almost made it three in the 34th minute when Sykes laid a perfect pass into the path of Munoz whose drive beat Micah but cannoned off the top of the crossbar. But, surprisingly considering their overall dominance of possession in the opening stanza, Canberra wasn’t able to add to its tally before the interval with youngster Ellie Carpenter doing an excellent defensive job on Sykes.
The chances continued to come for the champions after the break as Munoz freed Veronica Perez who probably should have least hit the target from just inside the area but dragged her shot wide. It mattered little however as Perez atoned within sixty seconds. The Mexican international sent Sykes into space inside the area and from the angle she confidently buried her seventh of the season into the top corner.
Micah was then forced into an acrobatic save to turn a speculative Munoz cross-shot over for a corner and the Wanderers stopper made an even better save with ten minutes to play flying across goal to tip a Fletcher rocket over the bar.
At the other end the Wanderers almost broke Canberra’s impressive defensive record at McKellar Park, which has stretched to 620 minutes after this shut-out, when Halloway fired through a ruck of players only to see her effort cleared off the line by Julia De Angelis, preserving the clean sheet and sealing United’s seventh win on the bounce.
Canberra United 3 (Caitlin Munoz 6’, Rebecca Kiting 11’, Ashleigh Sykes 58’)
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Canberra United: 20. Melissa MAZIELS, 3. Julia DE ANGELIS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (16. Tegan RIDING 74’), 7. Ellie BRUSH, 12. Emma KETE (8. Meg MCCLAUGHLIN 67’), 13. Nicole BEGG (9. Grace GILL 63’), 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 17. Veronica PEREZ, 18. Rebecca KITING
Substitutes not used: 22. Georgia BORIC
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Teagan MICAH, 2. Caitlin COOPER, 3. Carmelina MOSCATO, 4. Chloe O’BRIEN (13. Eliza AMMENDOLIA 60’), 5. Kendall JOHNSON (6. Rachael SOUTAR 24’), 7. Helen PETINOS, 8. Erica HALLOWAY, 10. Michelle CARNEY, 11. Keelin WINTERS, 12. Hannah BEARD (9. Elizabeth GREY 60’), 15. Ellie CARPENTER
Substitutes not used: 20. Jada MATHYSSEN-WHYMAN
Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 14. Ashleigh SYKES (Canberra United)
Referee: Rebecca DURCAU