Canberra United defender Rebecca Kiting celebrates her first W-League goal in Sunday’s 3-0 win against the Western Sydney Wanderers at McKellar Park. Photo: Stefan PostlesNo Williams. No Heyman. No worries for Canberra United as the defending W-League champions cruised to a seventh-straight victory to keep their title ambitions on track.
With Matildas representatives Lydia Williams and Michelle Heyman watching from the grandstand, Canberra easily disposed of the Western Sydney Wanderers 3-0 at McKellar Park on Sunday.
Two goals in the first 11 minutes stamped Canberra’s dominance from the outset before electric striker Ashleigh Sykes continued her stellar campaign to seal all three points early in the second half.
Canberra has confirmed second place on the ladder and will host Sydney FC in a semi-final on the weekend of January 23-24.
Williams and Heyman will both likely return for Friday night’s game away to Adelaide United after they were instructed by Matildas team management to be rested after a camp in Sydney last week.
Canberra coach Rae Dower said it was a credit to her team’s depth they were able to get the result regardless and their fifth-straight clean sheet.
“There were a few late disruptions with the team changing but as I reminded the girls, it was pretty much the same team that played the Wanderers in round seven (when Canberra won 4-1),” Dower said.
“Lydia had a fairly solid challenge in their game, (Matildas coach Alen Stajcic) gave some words to the fella who did it, and it gave her a pretty nasty cork. Michelle was a bit tight from the long trip back from Perth, so she basically did rehab running for the week.”
Filling in for Heyman in the No.9 role, Caitlin Munoz opened the scoring after just six minutes, finishing off a nice assist from Kendall Fletcher.
The American midfielder was again in the action five minutes later, delivering a pinpoint cross into the box to the head of defender Rebecca Kiting, who found the back of the net for her debut W-League goal.
United killed the game off in the 58th minute through the boot of Sykes after a great pass from Mexican international Veronica Perez.
Fletcher is aiming for her first grand final appearance after missing out last season when she was a guest player.
“It’s kind of a running joke. This is my sixth season here and every single season I’ve played every semi-final and never made it to a final,” Fletcher said.
“That included last year, because even though the team made it, I didn’t get to play in it. So I was a little gutted, but at the same time it was a decision we had talked about and I felt really comfortable with.”
Fletcher said the squad was determined to avoid being complacent during their great run of form.
“When you’re on a seven-game winning streak, you can go one of two ways — you can go stale or you can build momentum,” Fletcher said.
“I think that’s been a big focus of ours from the coaching staff and for the players to keep building each week. While we’re getting really good results, none of us feel that we are where we need to be. Today, we came out hungry and when you get goals early it can change games.”
CANBERRA UNITED 3 (Munoz 6, Kiting 11, Sykes 58) bt WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 0 at McKellar Park on Sunday.