Preview: Canberra United v Melbourne City

An epic heavyweight contest looms in the nation’s capital as this season’s premiers tackle the reigning champions for a spot in the Grand Final.

Two-time champions Canberra United are striving for hosting rights of the season decider for the first time since that memorable 2012 campaign.

Melbourne City, for their part, are looking for another ticket to the big show having achieved the feat in their maiden season last term.

The Melbourne side are no longer the invincible force they once seemed to be - a fact Canberra know better than anyone.

It was United who ended the champs’ 18-match unbeaten run in December with a stunning 2-1 away win.

City, though defeated collected a 2-1 win of their own when they last visited Canberra back in Round 2.

Both teams are without key goalscorers in Michelle Heyman (Canberra) and Larissa Crummer (Melbourne City), while Canberra veteran Ellie Brush will surely struggle to get through 90 minutes after her long injury layoff.

Despite the big-name absentees, there is a galaxy of stars littered across both teams ensuring high-quality attacking fare.

And none more so than Canberra forward Ash Sykes who collected the Westfield W-League Golden Boot last weekend for her 12 regular-season goals, including a truly remarkable run of 11 in the past seven matches.

While all the hometown interest centres on Canberra, many will be keen to see the performance of Melbourne City after their disrupted campaign.

Midfield dynamo Jess Fishlock assumed the coaching role a few weeks back, and the team have collected two tough wins in the past fortnight following a stunning six-match winless streak.

“The last few weeks we’ve really got our handle back and desire back,” Fishlock said.

“We had a blip, there’s no doubt about that. But what the girls have done to turn that around has been brilliant.

“We’re confident, we’re happy now, which is a good way to be when you go into finals.”

The match will be preceded by the Hyundai A-League encounter between Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United.

Canberra United v Melbourne City
Sunday 5 February 2017
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Kick-Off: 8:00PM (Local) (8:00PM (AEDT))

Referee: Rebecca Durcau

TV Broadcast: Live coverage on FOX SPORTS 505 and delayed coverage on ABC TV (10pm nationally)

Radio Broadcast: ABC Radio Canberra, Grandstand Digital Canberra, Online & via the ABC Radio Mobile App – A-league Live.

Join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #WLeague #BeReal

Canberra United squad: 1.Trudy BURKE (gk), 2.Yukari KINGA, 4.Clare HUNT, 5.Jenna McCORMICK, 7.Ellie BRUSH, 8.Hayley RASO, 9.Jasmyne SPENCER, 10.Grace MAHER, 12.Hannah BREWER, 13.Celeste BOUREILLE, 14.Ashley SYKES, 15.Emma CHECKER, 16.Karly ROESTBAKKEN, 18.Kahlia HOGG, 19.Nickoletta FLANNERY, 20.Georgia BORIC (gk), 22.Stephanie OCHS, 32.Lisa DE VANNA **two to be omitted**

Ins: 4.Clare HUNT (promoted), 18.Kahlia HOGG (promoted), 16.Karly ROESTBAKKEN (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 11.Michelle HEYMAN (ankle – 1-2 weeks)

Melbourne City squad: 1.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 3.Lauren BARNES, 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 6.Aivi LUIK, 7.Steph CATLEY (c), 10.Jessica FISHLOCK, 11.Erika TYMRAK, 13.Rebekah STOTT, 14.Melina AYRES, 15.Amy JACKSON, 16.Beverly YANEZ, 17.Marianna TABAIN, 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI, 19.Tyla-Jay VLAJNIC, 20.Emily SHIELDS (gk)

Ins: 18.Jacynta GALABADAARACHCHI (promoted), 19.Tyla Jay VLAJNIC (promoted)

Outs: Nil

Unavailable: 9.Larissa CRUMMER (foot – season)