Canberra United went down 2-1 in their season opener on Saturday, as champions Melbourne City prevailed infront of a strong crowd at GIO Stadium.
United looked the side more likely in a first half of limited chances. Jasmyne Spencer’s hard running tested the City defence and caused mistakes, while Steph Ochs crosses always were a threat.
Laura Alleway gave the visitors the lead after 18 minutes, as Ochs was penalised for a challenge on Jess Fishlock down the right. Lauren Barnes swung in a perfectly weighted free-kick that Alleway nodded back across Trudy Burke and into the corner.
United responded well and looked to make amends up the other end as the home team began to spread the ball well and open up channels.
Ochs’ curling effort from range in the 24th minute challenged Lydia Williams, following a free-kick that saw Aivi Luik booked for a heavy challenge on the American.
United threatened for much of the half, as first Yukari Kinga and then Celeste Boureille had cracks from long range on the cusp of half-time, only to see their efforts roll just wide.
City started the second half brightly as they looked to increase their lead and came close as Erika Tymrak hit the crossbar with a header back across the keeper, however the ball was cleared.
Playing a goal down, United were forced to push hard for much of the second half, and a fantastic turn-and-hit from Ash Sykes forced a great save from Williams on 70 minutes.
United appeared to only be missing the final ball on occasion as a number of chances went begging in the final third.
Their lack of finishing and poise in attack cost them after 80 minutes, as Melina Ayres raced onto a long ball over the defence to knock the ball around an enrushing Burke.
United continued to push in the dying moments and the dynamic Spencer won a penalty as she ducked and weaved in the 18-yard box.
Ellie Brush took the spot kick once the ball settled in the wind, and made no mistake despite a touch from Williams on the way through.
United will travel to Brisbane next weekend to take on the Roar, while City have the bye.
Canberra United: 1. Trudy BURKE, 2. Yukari KINGA, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 8. Hayley RASO (10. Grace MAHER 83’), 9. Jasmyne SPENCER, 11. Michelle HEYMAN (C), 12. Hannah BREWER, 13. Celeste BOUREILLE, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 22. Stephanie OCHS (19. Nickoletta FLANNERY 83’)
Melbourne City: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 2. Teigen ALLEN, 3. Lauren BARNES, 5. Laura ALLEWAY, 6. Aivi LUIK, 7. Stephanie CATLEY, 10. Jessica FISHLOCK, 11. Erika TYMRAK, 13. Rebekah STOTT, 14. Melina AYRES (19. Tyla Jay VLAJNIC, 17. Marianna TABAIN