A second half free-kick from experienced international Caitlin Munoz ensured that Canberra United’s unbeaten record stretched to 18 matches and earned them what could prove to be a valuable point in a 1-1 draw with Western Sydney Wanderers at Campbelltown. Munoz struck with seventeen minutes to spare to cancel out Teigen Allen’s first half opener for Wanderers whilst United ended the match with ten players after skipper Ellie Brush was dismissed after receiving a second yellow card in stoppage time.
United should have been celebrating a lead within eighty seconds of the kick off as they took the game to the Wanderers. Ashleigh Sykes’ pace found her plenty of room on the left hand side of the penalty area and her low cross beat everyone to tee up Georgia Yeoman-Dale on the opposite flank.
However, with the whole goal to aim at, Yeoman-Dale somehow scuffed her shot at Elizabeth Durack in the Wanderers goal. The ‘keeper couldn’t hold it though and, after a defender crashed a clearance off Yeoman-Dale and onto the bar, Durack recovered well to push away a fierce diving header from Michelle Heyman on the follow-up.
Ashleigh Sykes then tested Durack with a low shot from inside the penalty area after a lung-bursting run down the wing but it was the Wanderers who struck first blood in the 23rd minute. Shortly after Sarah Walsh had grazed the crossbar with a cross-shot the home side went in front with a corker of a goal. Receiving the ball twenty metres from goal Allen set her sights and let fly with a rip-roaring shot that flashed past Trudy Burke, on debut in the Canberra goal, and into the bottom corner.
With Ashleigh Sykes causing Western Sydney no end of problems with her direct running it was a shame from Canberra’s viewpoint that a knock to the hip meant an early end to proceedings for the wide-player with Hayley Raso replacing her four minutes after the Wanderers goal. There was much puff in the centre of the field following the change as both teams struggled to control the ball on a pitch that was bumpy and threadbare in many patches.
The Wanderers though survived the late Canberra flourish and almost doubled their lead when Swede Louise Fors, like Burke on debut, curled a swerving effort into the side-netting but the hosts had to settle for a 1-0 half-time advantage.
Canberra almost levelled seven minutes into the second half after a quick-fire passing move ended with Yeoman-Dale crossing low for Heyman. The striker’s cushioned effort beat Durack but came back off the post, however the assistant’s flag had already been raised nullifying a sweet move. The prolific forward then blazed over from close range, when she should have done better, as Canberra upped the pressure following the introduction of Samantha Wood.
Needing to find an equaliser Canberra pushed on and Heyman tested Durack with a long-range drive before the Wanderers defence finally yielded. There were seventeen minutes to play when Canberra was awarded a free-kick far out on the right hand side of the field. From it Munoz sent a swerving effort into a crowded penalty area and the flight and arc deceived Durack dropping over her head perfectly into the top corner to level the scores.
In their opening three matches Canberra had finished the stronger and they pushed on looking for the match-winner. A succession of corners kept the pressure on the Wanderers defence and from one Brush saw a powerful header saved by Durack at full stretch. Munoz was next to go close sending a delicate lob over the ‘keeper five minutes from time and watching as it landed on the roof of the net after excellent approach work by Heyman.
United finished the match as they had started it, on the front foot, but couldn’t find a way past the Wanderers defence for a second time and was forced to settle for a share of the spoils at the end of an entertaining ninety minutes. They do so with only ten players as captain Brush was sent off with seconds remaining after receiving a second yellow card.
Sunday 11th November 2012
Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Teigen Allen 23’)
Canberra United 1 (Caitlin Munoz 73’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: 1. Elizabeth DURACK, 2. Samantha SPACKMAN, 3. Alexandra HUYNH, 4. Alesha CLIFFORD, 5. Olivia KENNEDY, 9. Sarah WALSH (12. Jessica SEAMAN 57’), 10. Servet UZUNLAR, 11. Louise FORS FORS (8. Vanessa HART 80’), 13. Catherine CANNULI (Linda O’NEILL 76’), 14. Trudy CAMILLERI, 15. Teigen ALLEN