United share points with Victory to keep finals dreams alive
Melbourne Victory and Canberra United could not be split with 1-1 the full-time score at Epping Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides standings on the Westfield W-League ladder remain unchanged with Victory keeping their spot in the elusive top four with United trailing just behind in fifth position.
A screamer from Angela Beard saw her break the deadlock for Victory as she opened her account for the club and scored only the second goal of her senior career.
The home side could not maintain their advantage into the break with a Nicki Flannery finish restoring parity for Canberra on the stroke of half time.
A resurgent United began the second half the stronger of the two sides with Flannery and Michelle Heyman beginning to wreak havoc on Victory’s backline.
The introduction of Annalie Longo gave Melbourne an extra dimension in the attacking third as her and Lisa De Vanna combined well on several occasions in the latter stages of the second half.
Victory thought they may have snatched all three points in the final moments if it were not for a spectacular save from Keeley Richards.
The first opportunity of note provided us with the first goal when Beard’s effort from the left wing eluded Canberra shot stopper Richards as it struck the crossbar before nestling into the back of the net in the 9th minute.
Victory continued to dominate proceedings with Beard enjoying life down the right channel – causing all kinds of trouble for United right back, Jessika Nash.
Kyra Cooney-Cross caused a heart in mouth moment for Richards only 10 minutes after the hosts broke the deadlock when her long-distance strike sailed just over the crossbar.
The home side’s confidence grew as the half wore on with Polly Doran almost producing a carbon copy of Beard’s opener as her strike came within inches of catching out Richards with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Richards was clearly not rocked by her shaky start to the match when she managed to dispossess De Vanna just outside the 18-yard area and put an end to a potentially lethal attack.
Melbourne seemed on course to close out the half with the advantage until Canberra equalised against the run of play thanks to a smart finish from Flannery in the second minute of stoppage time.
A pinpoint through ball from Bianca Galic caught out a napping Victory defence and left Flannery to slot past an outstretched Gabriela Garton.
Canberra carried over their strong finish to the first half after the break with Flannery and Heyman asking questions of Victory’s defence.
It was Flannery whose shot from just outside the penalty area forced Garton into action five minutes into the second stanza.
The final half hour saw Victory begin to muscle their way back into the fixture and they were unlucky not to restore their lead following a last-ditch intervention from Lauren Keir after she cut out Ayres’ threatening cross.
The final 15 minutes ended up being an end-to-end contest with Laura Hughes causing trouble for Garton while De Vanna and Longo were keeping Canberra’s defence on edge.
Longo thought she had scored the winner with a minute left thanks to an improvised turn and shot on the edge of the six-yard area but to her and her side’s dismay it was kept out by an instinctive reflex save from Richards.
Next Fixtures – Round 11
Melbourne Victory v Western Sydney Wanderers
Thursday, 4 March 2021
Venue: Lakeside Stadium
Kick-off: 7:05pm AEDT
Canberra United v Brisbane Roar
Sunday, 7 March 2021
Venue: Viking Park
Kick-off: 4:05pm AEDT