Canberra United have all but sealed a home Westfield W-League semi-final after overcoming Perth Glory 2-0 at Ashfield Reserve on Saturday.
Ellie Brush put the visitors ahead after 22 minutes with a textbook header at the near-post before Ashleigh Sykes sealed Canberra’s sixth straight win three minutes from full-time with a close-range finish.
The win pushes the defending champions six points clear of third-placed Sydney FC on the Westfield W-League table with two matches to play before the finals.
“We’ve had a really good season, it started off a bit rocky, but we’ve come good during the end of it,” Canberra goalkeeper Lydia Williams said.
“To get what we needed, with two games in hand, is a real positive sign for us and we have time to work on the things we need to for the semi-finals.”
Glory, meanwhile, faces an uphill battle to qualify for the finals and must rely on both Adelaide and Newcastle to lose their respective matches on Sunday to remain in contention.
Both teams braved the stifling Perth heat, with the mercury sitting just above 34C when the match kicked off.
Canberra was dealt a blow before kick-off when young defender Emma Checker suffered a serious knee injury during the warm-up and took no part in the match.
In a rematch of last season’s W-League Grand Final, Matildas star Caitlin Foord created plenty of chances for the home side before she was forced from the pitch in the 38th minute with a suspected broken collarbone after landing heavily on her right shoulder following a crude challenge from Canberra skipper Nicole Begg.
At the opposite end of the pitch, Sykes posed a serious threat from start to finish for Canberra and would have scored multiple times if it wasn’t for the goalkeeping heroics of Glory custodian Mackenzie Arnold, who pulled of several spectacular saves which kept Perth in the contest until the final minutes.
Canberra hosts Western Sydney next Sunday while Perth will take on Adelaide in its final home game of the season later that day.