A controversial winner from Jasmyne Spencer sent Sydney FC into the Westfield W-League Grand Final at the expense of Canberra United.
Spencer struck just past the hour, hammering home a loose ball, after fellow striker Kyah Simon had appeared to obstruct Lydia Williams in the Canberra goal.
As befitted a semi-final between two well-matched teams there was little to choose between the pair in the opening quarter of the match with half chances at both ends. Simon fired the first shot in anger for the Sky Blues inside ten minutes but her effort drifted wide of the upright.
At the other end, United created a couple of opportunities with Michelle Betos in the Sydney goal palming over an Ellie Brush header after the central defender met a Kendall Fletcher corner with some power, before Meg McLaughlin shot straight at the Sydney custodian after engineering space on the right flank.
Spencer was next to try her luck for the visitors with a blocked shot but it was Betos who was being worked harder. Michelle Heyman struck a half-volley right down the throat of the ‘keeper before Betos acrobatically denied Ashleigh Sykes, tipping a powerful shot from the angle over the bar for a corner.
On the counter Spencer dragged a cross-shot wide of the post with Williams scrambling and it was the American who went closest to breaking the deadlock three minutes before half-time. The livewire striker turned inside Nicole Begg and rode a challenge from Jenna McCormick before lashing a shot which beat Williams but cannoned back off the near post.
A fairly prosaic start to the second half was enlivened by a smart stop from Williams who touched over a looping Alanna Kennedy free-kick. Seconds later McLaughlin forced Betos into reacting sharply as she pounced on a loose ball and sent a side-foot strike at goal that was well blocked by the visiting goalkeeper.
Sydney struck the decisive blow in controversial fashion in the 62nd minute. Princess Ibini lofted a ball into the area where Simon clattered into Williams for what appeared to be a clear foul which was ignored by the officials. Spencer latched onto the loose ball and slammed it into the net much to the chagrin of the United defence, Williams being booked in the aftermath.
United could sense their season slipping away and sent on New Zealand international Emma Kete into the fray in place of McLaughlin whilst Sydney responded by introducing Sunny Franco for the energetic Ibini.
With time running out Canberra upped the tempo and Sykes spurned a glorious chance to equalise after Nicole Begg’s penetrating run down the wing ended with a near-perfect cut-back. Unfortunately, Sykes couldn’t get enough purchase on the strike to trouble Betos.
United would only be able to craft one final chance in dying minutes, but once again the home side could not find the back of the net. Kendall Fletcher’s corner was flicked down to Nickoletta Flannery, but the substitute saw her shot blocked by a desperate Renee Rollason a metre out from the goal line.