A double from Ashleigh Sykes has led Canberra United to a deserved 2-0 win over Brisbane Roar on a sweltering afternoon in the national capital.
Sykes struck once in each half as United claimed a 2-0 win to consolidate second place on the ladder. And a bad afternoon for Brisbane was compounded with the dismissal of Kirsty Yallop for a brace of yellow cards.
Canberra started the brighter of the two teams and went close to opening the scoring in only the sixth minute. Veronica Perez swung over a delightful corner that Kendall Fletcher met with a header that looked destined to loop into the net only for Katrina Gorry to nod the ball off the line.
Gorry made an impression at the other end when she forced Lydia Williams into a superb save, tipping the ball over the bar, after the midfielder’s speculative effort from range threatened to dip over the Matildas custodian as the game ebbed and flowed.
Perez went close with a similar drive for United that flashed over the Roar crossbar but it was Roar who went closest in the first half-hour. Tameka Butt showed a spark of brilliance with a lob that beat Williams all ends up but cannoned back off the crossbar. Gorry was fastest to the rebound and looked certain to score only for Williams to make a stunning reaction save.
Williams was at her brilliant best moments before the break to deny Ruth Blackburn, unmarked six yards from goal, whose effort was scrambled clear and, from the resultant break, Canberra struck.
Michelle Heyman created it with a penetrating run in the left channel that culminated in a low cross that Sykes, arriving on the far post, slid into the net from close range. The goal giving Canberra a slender half-time lead.
Sykes was instrumental in the second stanza as well creating the first chance with a sharp one-two with Heyman only for her shot to have the sting taken out of it by a well-timed block. United could have gone further moments later ahead when Jenna McCormick found herself free on the end of a Perez free-kick but could not direct her volley on target.
It didn’t take long for the home team to double their lead though with a tremendous second. Caitlin Munoz sent a raking fifty-yard ball over the back of the Roar defence and Sykes, oozing confidence, took a touch before placing a perfect shot across Carrie Simpson and into the bottom corner.
Roar tried to get back into the contest but was left with a mountain to climb as midfielder Kirsty Yallop was sent off, accumulating a brace of yellow cards within twenty minutes of each other, to leave Brisbane short-handed for the remainder of the match. By then, however, Canberra had done more than enough to claim the three points.
Canberra United 2 (Ashleigh Sykes 45’, 60’)
Brisbane Roar 0
Canberra United: 1. Lydia WILLIAMS, 4. Kendall FLETCHER, 5. Jenna MCCORMICK (19. Nickoletta FLANNERY 84’), 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (3. Julia DE ANGELIS 65’), 7. Ellie BRUSH, 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 15. Emma CHECKER, 17. Veronica PEREZ, 18. Rebecca KITING (2. Catherine BROWN 71’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Melissa MAIZELS
Brisbane Roar: 20. Carrie SIMPSON, 3. Amy CHAPMAN (19. Sophie PERSSON 67’), 4. Clare POLKINGHORNE, 6. Angela BEARD, 7. Gabrielle MARZANO (12. Alisha FOOTE 79’), 10. Katrina GORRY, 11. Kristy YALLOP, 13. Tameka BUTT (8. Ayesha NORRIE 90’), 14. Summer O’BRIEN, 15. Ruth BLACKBURN, 17. Emily GIELNIK
Substitutes not used: 1. Haley KOPMEYER
Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 17. Veronica PEREZ (Canberra United)
RED CARD: 11. Kristy YALLOP (Brisbane Roar)
Referee: Casey REIBELT