Western Sydney Wanderers 0-5 Canberra United
Above: Margot Robinne shows what it means as her late goals put the icing on the cake for Canberra’s first win. Photo: Canberra United.
By Ben Gilby (16/2/22)
Western Sydney Wanderers crashed to their second 5-0 defeat in three days as previously winless Canberra United swept them aside at Wanderers Football Park.
The loss of Clare Hunt due to injury has been a major part of turning what was a pretty sound defensive until into one which is leaking goals at an alarming rate. This, plus the team’s record of only scoring three goals all season is causing an alarming end to the campaign for Wanderers fans.
Canberra were on top, but it took 22 minutes for the first goal to arrive. Grace Maher stepped up with a corner on the right and Michelle Heyman got up at the near post to head home.
Five minutes later United doubled their lead. Ash Sykes took on Caitlin Cooper along the left. Sykes looked to be winning the physical tussle as she advanced well into the box but lost her balance just as she tried to get a shot away and Sham Khamis gathered. The danger looked to have been averted.
However, Khamis’ resulting throw-out went straight to Laura Hughes and the Canberra midfielder was able to supply Chelsee Washington to advance into the area and slot home with ease.
A rare first-half attack was launched by Western Sydney as the period reached its denouement. Libby Copus-Brown escaped along the left and played a centimetre perfect ball into the path of Bryleeh Henry, but superb covering by Allyson Haran swept away Wanderers’ hopes.
Canberra’s response to Henry’s opportunity was a dangerous breakaway along the same wing with Sykes leading the charge. She played in Heyman who linked to Washington. The American turned to create space and lofted an effort was just kept out with Khamis on tip-toes to claim.
One final chance fell the visitors way as Heyman linked up with Sykes 30 yards from goal. The 30-year-old was forced wide by Cooper as she advanced into the right hand side of the box to get a shot away which Khamis claimed.
Wanderers needed to come out firing in the second half in a bid to try and wrest the game away from the capital city side. It was Canberra who created the first chance. Washington out muscled Cooper and turned away from traffic in the centre of the field to play a low, long ball into the stride of Heyman. The competition’s record scorer accelerated away from Alex Huynh but her effort was gathered up by Khamis.
With 25 minutes to go, Canberra added a third which effectively wrapped up the points. Margot Robinne got away down the left and pulled a ball across which Cooper headed away, but only into the path of Chloe Middleton who took two touches and fired a glorious effort around Galic and into the net from 20 yards.
As hard as Western Sydney tried, opportunities were never really looked like being taken. Rosie Galea created two chances that were virtual carbon copies. The first saw her cut in from the right and sent a 30-yard effort goalwards, the second from slightly closer range, but on both occasions, Chloe Lincoln’s goal was never seriously under threat.
Wanderers profligacy was further punished in the closing stages. With six minutes to play, Allira Toby lifted a pass through the middle to fellow substitute Robinne who advanced one-on-one with Khamis who smothered the shot, but the ball came loose, but despite some pressure on her from the nearest defender Alexia Apostolakis, Robinne was able to smash home Canberra’s fourth.
It got worse still for Catherine Canniuli’s side as on the brink of stoppage time at the end of 90, Lincoln’s long clearance bounced clear for Robinne to gallop through comfortably to slot home her second and Canberra’s fifth.
For Canberra, their first win and the promise of four games to play means that their season could take on a very different look after such a frustrating spell.
Wanderers need to lift quickly as their next two games are against teams immediately around them in the table as they face Newcastle Jets and then Wellington Phoenix. If they can’t take at least four points from those two, their campaign will be finishing on a worrying note.
Teams: WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS (4-4-2): Khamis, Huynh, Cooper, Matos, Gallagher, Galic, Price, Henry, Copus-Brown, Habuda. Substitutes: Massih, Apostolakis, Galea, Halloway, Willacy (GK).
CANBERRA UNITED (4-2-3-1): Lincoln, Ilijoski, Keir, Haran, Vidmar, Hughes, Maher, Grove, Washington, Sykes, Heyman. Substitutes: Caspers, Esposito (GK), Middleton, Robinne, Toby.
Scorers: Heyman 22, Washington 34′, Middleton 66′, Robinne 85′, 90′.
Referee: Caitlin Williams.