What a finale to the Westfield W-League season it promises to be as runaway leaders Perth Glory seek to overcome the sizeable hurdle that is Canberra United as they hunt their maiden title.
Westfield W-League Grand Final
Perth Glory v Canberra United
Sunday 21 December 2014
nib Stadium, Perth
Local kick-off: 12 midday (3pm AEDT)
Referee: Kate Jacewicz
Join the conversation on Twitter using match hashtag #PERvCBR
* Catch all the action Live at 3.00pm nationally (midday WA time) on ABC TV. Or from Monday on ABC iView with a full replay at 3.30am on Tuesday.
Statistically Perth has far and away been the best team in the Westfield W-League this term. They have set new competition benchmarks for points earned and goals scored, thanks to countless sparkling displays of attacking football.
But of course a game of football is not won on paper. A Grand Final, with all its distractions, even less so.
And Canberra United are perhaps better equipped than any team in the league to knock over the Glory, having done so just a fortnight ago in the final round of the season.
Canberra too are arguably the most experienced side in the finals series. Five players - Catlin Munoz, Ellie Brush, Grace Gill, Ashleigh Sykes and Nicole Begg (nee Sykes) – have featured in Canberra’s two previous deciders, losing in 2008 and winning in 2012. Munoz is even a survivor of Canberra Eclipse’s WNSL win in 2002, with the evergreen attacking midfielder netting the winner in that year’s decider.
On the debit side for United is the loss of American Kendall Fletcher whose loan spell with the club has come to an untimely conclusion. Canberra will be desperate to send Fletcher’s midfielder compatriot Lori Lindsey out on a high with the USA national team veteran hanging up the boots after a distinguished career.
Canberra also boast a remarkable historical record against the Glory. They have lost just once in 12 previous outings against Perth, and that solitary defeat didn’t come until earlier this season.
The Glory secured a 3-0 win in October on home soil, but that was a deceptive scoreline in what was a close match everywhere bar the scoreboard.
Two weeks ago Canberra saw off an understrength Glory to reach the semis in what was a tough and hard-fought match. Expect the intensity of Sunday’s match to go up a level again.
The Glory of course will again be without the talismanic qualities of injured forward Sam Kerr, but they didn’t put a foot out of place last week in routing Sydney FC with three unanswered goals.
Perth, in front of what is expected to be a large celebratory home crowd, will be saying farewell to one of their own long-established servants as under-rated forward Elisa D’Ovidio calls time on her career.
A major sub-plot of the Grand Final will be the shoot-out at either end of the park as the league’s two greatest goalscorers – Perth’s Kate Gill and Canberra’s Michelle Heyman go head to head.
Perth Glory squad : 1. Mackenzie Arnold (gk), 2. Sarah Carroll, 3. Carys Hawkins, 4. Bronwyn Studman, 5. Shannon May, 6. Alanna Kennedy, 7. Gabrielle Marzano, 8. Shawn Billam, 9. Caitlin Foord, 12. Kate Gill, 13. Elisa D’Ovidio, 14. Collette McCallum, 15. Shelina Zadorsky, 16. Thia Eastman, 17. Marianna Tabain, 18. Gabrielle Dal Busco (gk)
Ins : None
Outs : None
Unavailable : Sam Kerr (knee – season)
Canberra United squad : 1. Chantel Jones, 2. Catherine Brown, 3. Julia De Angelis, 5. Grace Field, 6. Caitlin Munoz, 7. Ellie Brush, 9. Grace Gill, 10. Grace Maher, 11. Michelle Heyman, 12. Sally Rojahn, 13. Nicole Begg, 14. Ashleigh Sykes, 15. Tegan Riding, 16. Lori Lindsey, 20. Melissa Maizels (gk), 22. Stephanie Ochs
Ins : Grace Maher (promoted)
Outs : Kendall Fletcher (end of contract)
Unavailable : Meg McLaughlin (knee - season)
Previous 2014/15 matches
Round 5 – Perth Glory 3 (Shelina Zadorsky 14’, Kate Gill 60’ pen, 81’) Canberra United 0
(11 October, Ashfield Sports Club, Perth)
Round 12 – Canberra United 2 (Michelle Heyman 69’, Ashleigh Sykes 85’) Perth Glory 1 (Sam Kerr 54’)
(7 December, Viking Park, Canberra)
Historical record between the pair
Perth Glory wins 1, draws 3, Canberra United wins 8
Perth Glory record win 3-0 (11 October 2014)
Canberra United record win 5-1 (26 January 2014)