Brisbane Roar 1–1 Canberra United
By Kieran Yap.
The star studded Brisbane Roar against the in-form Canberra United had all the ingredients for a blockbuster encounter, both sides met on a windy Thursday night undefeated with Canberra on fire in front of goal and The Roar yet to concede despite their trouble finding the back of the net.
Katrina Gorry changed that unwelcome statistic when fans were still finding their seats, unleashing a rocket off one step in the third minute. She received the ball around 25 yards out and with the wind at her back, struck it into the top corner beyond the leaping Sally James in the Canberra goal.
There was very little the young goalkeeper could do to prevent it, it was perfectly hit, with very little warning or wind up. The Canberra defender closed her down but not quickly enough and there was no immediate danger until the ball left Gorry’s wand of a right boot.
With the goal in hand Brisbane looked to be in cruise control, the pressed Canberra to deny them space in the midfield and prevent them playing the ball easily out from the back. The away team responded with a few encouraging counter attacks, utilizing the pace of Paige Satchell and the craft of Michelle Heyman. Any easy scoring opportunities were denied by the experienced and miserly defence of Polkinghorne and Carroll, though Heyman did crash a shot off the woodwork with when she was able to run at the goal and was unlucky not the score.
With the wind in their back Brisbane seemed eager to test James from distance at every opportunity, Gielnik and Gorry trying their luck again and Isobel Dalton hitting the post late in the half with a shot on the turn from 20 yards.
If the first half had a pattern it was that Roar were largely playing the way they wanted and denying Canberra the chance to get into a rhythm, Gielnik looked determined to score and was only denied by confident keeping by James, once to save a well hit toe poke from the flank and again coming out to claim Mariel Hecher’s curling through ball before Gielnik could reach it.
The second half followed much the same pattern, Brisbane dominated early possession with Gorry knitting the team together and making herself available for every possible pass. She is a delight to watch in full form, able to move her own team and the opposition around with clever movement and tight ball control. The Roar number 10 had was unlucky not to double her team’s tally with a low shot on the run denied by James.
Brisbane’s new signing, former Perth prodigy Leticia McKenna was the next to be frustrated, after an exchange of passes and decoy runs opened up some space for her, her shot was good but James was it’s equal.
Soon after, Michelle Heyman used a clever change of pace to beat Clare Polkinghorne on the right but the resulting strike from the edge of the box was well saved by Georgina Worth, the Brisbane goalkeeper had a busy night, mopping up the long balls and distributing from the back, but was rarely troubled, when her time came and Heyman hit the target, she met the challenge.
Katrina Gorry continued to torment the Canberra defence and she combined with Rosie Sutton to whip the ball across goal leaving James helpless and the defenders stranded, Emily Gielnik arrived at the far post, on cue in her 100th game and determined to score she met the ball at full pace but somehow managed to hit the cross bar from point blank range.
From the ridiculous to the sublime and from one moment of madness to another the game suddenly changed in a single moment. Grace Maher received the ball inside the centre circle, just inside her attacking half, she quickly spotted Worth off her line and with the wind in her back she hit the ball as sweetly as a ball can be hit, sailing it over the back peddling keeper and stunning the crowd, the opposition and her teammates with a probable contender for goal of the season.
As fatigue kicked in and the weather worsened with heavy rain joining the wind, the game opened up in the late stages with both teams trying to find the winner, Gorry had a shot saved again by Sally James after Gielnik galloped forward and played it back to her and Flannery attempted to replicate her heroics from the previous game and score a long range winner for United but the evening ended in another draw for Brisbane, another escape act by Canberra and another set of spectacular W-League highlights to start the round.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Dalton, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Heatley, Hecher, Gorry, McKenna, Gielnik, Sutton. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Murphy, Torpey, Chance, Horsey.
Scorer: Gorry 3.
CANBERRA UNITED: James, Foletta, Keir, Nash, Fletcher, Hughes, Satchell, Maher, Koulizakis, Flannery, Heyman. Substitutes: Richards (GK), Goldstein, Rasschaert, Galic, Grove.
Scorer: Maher 78.
Referee: Isabella Blaess.