Brisbane Roar 3-3 Canberra United
Above: Canberra United’s Michelle Heyman celebrates at Brisbane today. Her hat-trick extended her record-breaking tally of A-League Women goals. Photo: Canberra United.
By Kieran Yap (10/3/22)
Brisbane and Canberra faced off in the final game of the season for both sides and played out a classic to match the incredible 3-3 draw in round three.
Both clubs had started the season slowly but had gained cohesion, confidence, and form in the recent rounds. Finals were out of reach but a competitive first half meant that any suggestion of it being a dead rubber were put to rest.
Mariel Hecher had the first chance of the game. The Brazilian forced Chloe Lincoln into a good early save. Brisbane’s next attack would score the only goal of the first half.
It was no surprise that Katrina Gorry was the architect. The Roar playmaker has been at her best in recent games with assists in both games against Newcastle. The Matildas’ midfielder only needed a flick with the outside of her foot to bisect the Canberra defence. Larissa Crummer raced onto the through ball and finished well beyond Lincoln.
Crummer is another player that has found her feet in the second half of the season. Five of her eight goals have come in the last fortnight of football, and this finish was as good as any.
The former Golden Boot winner has the pace to trouble any defenders and soon found herself in on goal again. Unfortunately for Brisbane, her shot was around Lincoln but also wide of the goal.
Canberra’s best opportunity of the first half came through the combination of Michelle Heyman and Allira Toby. The chance could not be turned in and it was cleared for a corner kick.
Brisbane maintained control as the second half kicked off. Crummer and Shea Connors both almost turned the ball in but it somehow crawled past goal and Canberra survived the scare.
Hollie Palmer tried her luck from range, but it was a comfortable save for Lincoln. Palmer was being played in a deeper role alongside Ayesha Norrie. It gave Brisbane control over the middle of the park and allowed Gorry a free reign to weave her magic.
Her eventual replacement by Rie Kitano only underlined the depth that Brisbane have in the team but has been missing on matchday for much of the season.
Brisbane were on the attack for much of the second half. Connors did very well to outpace and then turn Lauren Keir, but her shot did not trouble Lincoln after some excellent footwork created the opening.
Canberra were holding on, but a second goal looked likely. Connors stole possession in the forward third and released Hecher out wide. She cut inside and the ball moved through Gorry until Norrie received possession in space.
The Roar captain launched a left-foot shot that flew past Lincoln and nestled in the back of the net. It was the second goal that Brisbane had deserved and was scored in nice style.
Canberra answered quickly. Barely 10 minutes later, Heyman stepped up to score her 80th career goal in the A-League Women.
Toby carried the ball through the middle and played it out in front of the star striker. Heyman kept her body between the ball and Jessie Rasschaert and held her off while finishing calmly to beat Shuttleworth in the Brisbane goal.
The goal spared Canberra. Grace Maher almost equalized with a trademark effort from long range. Shuttleworth was back pedalling and managed to get a fingertip to the ball as it bounced on the crossbar. Margot Robbine was well placed underneath it but perhaps unaware of the time she had, the French midfielder tried an overhead kick that bounced harmlessly wide.
Robbine made up for that slight error when she created the chance for Heyman to equalize. There are few surer things in Australian football than Michelle Heyman scoring when one-on-one with the keeper and she pulled Canberra level with a well-taken finish.
Both sides were eager to end the season on a high, and although they were providing a spectacle for neutrals, they wanted a win. Connors showed tenacity to win the ball wide and get the ball to Gorry who slipped another ball into Crummer. Lincoln was quick off her line to smother the chance.
Much of Brisbane’s season has been defined by late drama, and this game was no different.
Heyman looked to have scored the winner when she nodded in Grace Maher’s free kick in the 88th minute. The delivery was curled in perfectly, Shuttleworth was well positioned but the swerve and pace on the ball evaded her and Heyman needed only to direct it in.
It looked like Canberra had snatched a dramatic win, but Brisbane had other ideas.
Without Gorry and with injury time looming, The Roar went on the attack. Megan McElligot received the ball from Crummer’s pass and kept her cool to slot home a late equalizer to make it 3-3.
There was still room for one more piece of late drama. Heyman’s volley was blocked by what looked to be a Brisbane defenders’ hand. It was from point-blank range but the hand was away from the body. It may have been a lucky escape for the Roar but it was in keeping with the hectic nature of the afternoon.
And so the season ends for both of these clubs, and probably too soon. Canberra United brought in a lot of new players this season and took some time to adjust. They were just hitting form as the season ended much too quickly as it always does.
Vicki Linton’s side uncovered a few gems though and some slight tinkering could see them improve quickly in the next campaign. Sasha Grove is a young player with a lot of skill and swagger. She is one to watch going forward. Chloe Lincoln is another impressive young goalkeeper following in the footsteps of Sally James, another teenager who made an impact between the sticks last year.
Emma Ilijoski enhanced her burgeoning reputation, while Chloe Middleton and Mikayla Vidmar impressed in the later rounds.
Michelle Heyman is likely to return, there are still more chapters left in her iconic career and many more goals to score. Nikki Flannery may return from injury by round one and suddenly Canberra United are looking very good when things kick off again.
Brisbane had a funny season. Like Canberra, they hit form late. Garrath McPherson recruited almost entirely from the Queensland NPLW and with the exception of one match, they were always competitive and usually dangerous.
Their strike force of Shea Connors and Larissa Crummer came into some criticism for missed chances, but 15 goals between them is a good return over 14 games.
Brisbane Roar were mostly undone by conceding late goals throughout the year. As with Canberra United, some minor changes could improve the side significantly.
Jamilla Rankin’s emergence as a quality central defender is a bonus for the club and they have brought through two very promising young goalkeepers in Isabella Shuttleworth and Mia Bailey.
Brisbane Roar were always worth watching this season, this last game was another example of that. It was not a successful season, but it was a memorable one and they have more than earned a rest after three games in the last week and half.
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-3-3): Shuttleworth, Rasschaert, Haffenden, Rankin, Tathem, Palmer, Norrie, Gorry, Hecher, Crummer, Connors. Substitutes: Bailey (GK), Kitano, Margraf, McElligott, Stamatopoulos.
Scorers: Crummer 13′, Norrie 64′, McElligott 90′.
CANBERRA UNITED (4-3-3): Lincoln, Ilijoski, Keir, Haran, Vidmar, Hughes, Robinne, Maher, Toby, Heyman, Middleton. Substitutes: Caspers, Espositio (GK), Grove, Karrys-Stahl.
Scorers: Heyman 67′, 72′, 88.
Referee: Rebecca Mackie.