Returning Hero Heyman Settles Classic

Canberra United 4-3 Adelaide United

By Kieran Yap

This game was a classic, by the end of the evening even Canberra’s returning star Michelle Heyman looked like she could barely believe what she had been a part of. This game had everything, seven goals, one hat-trick, two long range rockets and end –to-end football for the majority of the night.

Above: Club legend Michelle Heyman marked her return to Canberra United with a match clinching hat-trick. Photo: @CanberraUnited

Canberra United began the game on the front foot, trying to control possession and attack early speedsters Nicki Flannery and Paige Satchell flanked Heyman as the centre forward.  Adelaide took about half an hour to settle, absorbing early pressure and escaping an early Canberra chance after Heyman found space in the penalty box and whipped a ball across the face of goal.

Although Canberra had looked more dangerous early, Adelaide scored with their first real chance of the game, new signing Fiona Worts intercepted an attempt to play out from the back and fed Maria Rojas who still had plenty to do. The Chilean international twisted and turned into the penalty area before finishing sublimely past Sally James.

Above: Maria Jose Rojas (right) in action on her debut for Adelaide United. Photo: @AUFCWomen.

Canberra looked to respond positively with Heyman missing an opportunity after running onto a long ball but Adelaide extended their lead after Emily Condon dissected the Canberra defense with a perfect pass for Isabel Hodgson to place past James with a wonderful first time finish.

Adelaide’s defence was holding up but also testing the limits of good fortune, they were lucky to avoid either Koulizakis or Satchell scoring from close range and Flannery would also have expected to score with only the keeper to beat. At half time Adelaide looked to be in control but Canberra’s fans had seen enough to be hopeful, why wouldn’t you be if you had the number 23 up front?

Michelle Heyman had publicly wondered about making a return to W League football and it was met with enthusiasm, when she announced her official comeback it was exciting, when she scored the first goal of the night, it felt inevitable. Matilda McNamara had proven to be a stubborn opponent all game but once Heyman accelerated past Adelaide defense she was able to finish coolly past the oncoming Fryer-Mclaren and the ball settled into the bottom corner, Canberra had deservedly pulled one back and confidence was high.

Above: Fiona Worts crossing the ball in on her Adelaide United debut. Photo: @AUFCWomen.

The second goal was born of persistence, Canberra were fortunate not to concede again after Fiona Worts hit the crossbar for the Reds and Canberra launched a long ball to forward which was kept alive by Flannery and substitute Haley Taylor-Young. In the penalty area chaos, Heyman managed to bury the ball into the net, striking on the turn and collapsing in celebration.

As the clock ticked over 80 minutes the scores were still locked at 2-2 but the final ten minutes were some of the most eventful and spectacular the W-League has seen. First Heyman hit the post after a deflected shot following a long run and pass from Kendall Fletcher, then as stoppage time began Laura Hughes took the lead for Canberra. She cleverly created some space for herself then crashed a shot onto the crossbar, which somehow hit the keeper’s back and rolled over the line.

As Adelaide surged for an equalizer, Heyman scored her third goal in the 91st minute, gambling on a defensive error, the ball fell to her off a defender then she stylishly clipped the ball into the net. The home side was up 4-2 and the result looked safe but Mallory Weber had other ideas, Adelaide’s U.S international cut in from the left wing and sent a dipping shot over James into the far corner of the goal.

Above: Michelle Heyman back in green and back to her influential best. Photo: @Mheyman23.

In the end Canberra held on, they celebrated a famous comeback, a stunning win and Heyman played the dream comeback game. Adelaide showed that they might be able to trouble most teams and fans that had long awaited a return of “The Dub” were rewarded with a game for the ages.

Teams: CANBERRA UNITED: James, Foletta, Keir, Nash, Fletcher, Hughes, Satchell, Maher, Flannery, Heyman, Koulizakis. Substitutes: Richards, Goldstein, Ilijoski, Galic, Taylor-Young.

Goals: Heyman 48, 75, 90+3. Hughes 90+1.

ADELAIDE UNITED: McLaren, E. Hodgson, Weber, McNamara, Holmes, Campagnale, Rojas, Condon, Dawber, I. Hodgson, Worts. Substitutes: Grove, Kirkby, Mullan, Tonkin.

Goals: Rojas 21, I. Hodgson 28, Weber 90+4.

Referee: Kate Jacewicz.

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