Clinical Canberra scramble Jets

Canberra United 5-1 Newcastle Jets

By Kieran Yap (14/1/23)

Above: Michelle Heyman holds up the ball for Canberra United. Photo: @CanberraUnited twitter

Canberra United delivered a comprehensive performance to defeat the Newcastle Jets 5-1 at Mckellar Park on Saturday afternoon.

The win was Canberra’s third of the season and one was their most impressive performances. It was all the more impressive considering that they were without star playmaker Grace Maher.

Njegosh Popovich’s side was buoyed by the return of one of their star recruits as Chengshu Wu started after recovering from a facial fracture. Her impact was undeniable.

Michelle Heyman opened the scoring for the home side. The league’s all-time leading scorer and potential World Cup bolter picked up the ball on the right flank and cut inside. She drew the attention of three defenders before playing it wide to Nikki Flannery.

The winger delivered a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Heyman who had continued her run. The lofted pass was brought down before the Canberra captain steadied and buried the shot past Georgina Worth.

Flannery brought up her second assist of the half to make it 2-0. Vesna Milivojević dribbled forward and released Flannery on the left. Her low cross was impossible to defend and it crashed off the face of the well-positioned Wu, landing in the back of the net.

It was a bittersweet goal for the Chinese recruit. A goal was a triumphant was to mark her return. Considering it was facial fractures that had kept her out, she probably would have preferred a less painful way to score.

Canberra’s dominance continued into the second half and Milivojević combined with Flannery to set up the third goal for the home team.

Above: Ellie Brush (right) celebrates with Vesna Milivojević. Photo: Keep Up

Flannery was uncontainable and now looks back to her very best since her knee injury almost two years ago. She cut the ball back to Milivojević, who swept it toward goal. Heyman gambled on it arriving at the back post and her instincts paid off with a simple but well-calculated finish.

Ellie Brush was next to get in on the act. The centre back drifted upfield and got on the end of a Milivojević free kick. Her flickeed header flew past Worth to make it 4-0 and Newcastle looked out of the contest.

But the Jets found a way to score. They almost always score, and have only gone goalless in two games this season. Skipper Cass Davis hit a well-delivered free kick from deep that Tara Andrews easily directed on target.

Despite Canberra controlling most of the match, Newcastle had their chances. Before her goal, Andrews looked threatening whenever the ball was in the penalty area, and Sarah Griffith was only denied by some exceptional keeping from Chloe Lincoln.

The contest was sealed by Milivojević who nodded home from close range after Emma Ilijoski’s cross. The prodigious full-back was skilful and creative after coming on. Canberra have impressive depth at left and right back this season with Sasha Grove, Hayley Taylor-Young, and Emily Roach joining Ilijoski as options on either flank.

Although Newcastle battled industriously and always threatened with their pace in attack, the day belonged to Canberra. If 5-1 was not an exact reflection of the game, it was reward for some ruthless finishing. The Jets tested the in-form Lincoln and Lauren Allan was a consistent menace, but their defence had no answer for Flannery, Wu, Milivojević, and Heyman.

Canberra now have the relative luxury of a full week off before they travel to face Wellington. They are improving in form and adding Grace Maher back into this squad makes them a team that those higher on the ladder will be increasingly wary of.

The Jets remain an entertaining team. They will score in most games, but this season they have conceded more. Newcastle have a bye and are back in action on the 28th January against Western Sydney Wanderers who will have two games in that time.

Teams: CANBERRA UNITED (4-4-2): Lincoln, Grove, Gett, Brush, Taylor-Young, Jale, Wu, Hughes, Flannery, Milivojević, Heyman. Substitutes: Roach, Murray, Ilijoski, Christopherson, Segavic.

Scorers: Heyman 16’, 52’. Wu 27’, Brush 78’, Milivojević 90+3’

NEWCASTLE JETS (4-2-3-1): Worth, T. Allen, Garnier, King, Clough, Johnson, Davis, Tamplin, Andrews, L. Allan, Brodigan. Substitutes: Stapleford, Agnew, Griffith, Konjarski, Olsen.

Scorers: Andrews 80’.

Referee: Lara Lee.

Attendance: 1,023.

Artwork: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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