FC Women rout Canberra 3-0

A second half blitz saw Sydney FC put three goals past third-placed Canberra United in front of 973 spectators at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday afternoon.

A second half blitz saw Sydney FC put three goals past third-placed Canberra United in front of 973 spectators at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday afternoon.

After a gritty first-half the visitors were left soothing their wounds when Ellie Brush and Grace Field put the ball into their own goal. Kyah Simon knocked in the third to put the Sky Blues back into first place ahead of Brisbane Roar.

Both teams began the match with an attacking intent despite the dusty pitch, though neither goalkeeper was tested in the opening 15 minutes. Shooting on the inconsistent field proved to be a challenging task as shot after shot flew over the crossbar.

Canberra continuously found a lot of space down the wings due to Sydney-s changed formation - the Sky Blues opting to part with their successful 4-4-2 diamond for a narrow 4-3-3. But it was the home side with the best opportunities, emphasised when Lydia Vandenbergh, playing as the sole winger, broke through the Canberra defence, only to be halted at the last minute by Caitlin Cooper.

Execution was the key issue as both sides failed to play the fluid football they desired. Kylie Ledbrook and Simon had prime chances with 10 minutes remaining in the first half but blazed their rushed shots over the target.

Sydney looked to cash in on this spell of pressure, and only Lydia Williams stood in the way of the home side when she pulled out a strong diving save to keep a lively Ledbrook off the scoresheet.

With just a few minutes remaining in the first half, United-s Cian Maciejewski was forced to leave the field on a stretcher, replaced by Field. It was a sign of the physicality of the match with both teams pressing hard and challenging for every 50/50 ball, which resulted in a rigid match, regardless of the attempts to play attractive football.

The Sky Blues continued their push for a goal and Canberra called on their captain Brush to keep the scores level with a goal-line clearance off a corner following a brave punch from Williams.

United began the second half brightly, but it soon fell apart four minutes after the break when a buoyant run forward from Caitlin Foord resulted in a cross harshly turned in by Brush as she tried to clear the danger. Williams was left flat-footed as the ball floated into the far top corner.

Canberra looked to claw their way back into the match in the 58th minute, with Sydney calling upon Dimi Poulos to keep the visitors out with a tremendous one on one save.

But it was a singular chance for Canberra in the opening stages of the second half as Sydney asserted their dominance, sparked by the inclusion of skipper Heather Garriock and the goal putting them top of the league.

Sydney lifted the tempo in attack and defence, pressing hard and tightly marking their opposition. The Sky Blues started using more width with the flair and passing that has served them so well throughout the season.

It was by using these wide channels that they almost doubled their lead through Leena Khamis, who-s flick shot off the end of a cross at the near post was deflected agonisingly wide across the face of goal.

It was Khamis-s last notable involvement of the game and it was her replacement, Catherine Cannuli, who threatened to get on the end of Ledbrook-s pin-point accurate cross behind the defence. But unfortunately for United, Field, desperately trying to clear, got the last touch that beat Williams. It ended a superb Sydney move with the influential Ledbrook always looking likely to do something special.

Caitlin Munoz, with a dislocated finger, did her best to draw one back with a neat shot at the near post, but a well positioned Poulos made the save. Off the back of Poulo-s goalkeeping, Sydney scored their third goal with eight minutes remaining, with Simon-s sensational first time shot the perfect finish that Vandenbergh-s deep world-class cross deserved.

The 3-0 win for the Sky Blues means they will finish first unless they suffer a freak loss away to Newcastle for the final regular-season game.