Monaro Panthers keeper Liana Hall. Image courtesy @KaiMoebus

 

Match of the Round: Canberra FC v Monaro Panthers

 

 

There were only two Round 14 games on this weekend after Woden-Weston announced that they would forfeit against Belconnen United. The forfeit had the consequence that a win to Canberra FC at Deakin Stadium would guarantee them a finals berth. Standing in their way was a fresh Monaro Panthers side who had not played since last month.

The home side proved irresistible in attack, running out 7-0 winners against a determined Panthers side that featured several strong performers, but not enough to stem the Canberra FC tide.

There were regulars missing from both sides as they took the field, with Monaro Panthers handing first grade debuts to four players. Regular captain Alicia Meuronen watched on from the stands, while attacking midfielder Chris Yip-Au will not be in town for the remainder of the season.

For their part, Canberra FC welcomed back captain Grace Gill but were without the services of key central defender Ivana Galic, with Krista Hagen coming into the backline.

Canberra FC were vigorous in attack in the first ten minutes, with midfielders streaming forward in numbers and supporting attacks in an attempt to overrun a Panthers back three formation. An early warning of their intent occurred in the 6th minute when Grace Gill chipped delicately for Mel Bunker’s header into the back of the net, but Bunker was ruled to be offside.

Three minutes later a Monaro goal kick was collected by Canberra FC’s Jamie Berkeley, who knocked the ball down to forward Brittany Palombi. Palombi centred the ball to Bunker, who then found Rachel Goldstein in space on the right side of the six yard box. Goldstein made no mistake in slotting the ball to the left of Panthers keeper Liana Hall to give Canberra FC an early lead.

On the 10 minute mark Gill attacked an excellent ball in to her by Alice Churchill, finding herself in a one-on-one with keeper Hall, who did well to block the shot. The rebound was picked up by Bunker, however her curled attempt went just wide of the right post.

The Panthers came back into the game over the next half hour. Palombi’s close dribbling at speed was proving difficult to contain, but Kaitlin Joy and Thembi Compton in the heart of the Panthers defence were effective in repelling Canberra FC’s offense. In the centre of the park Panther Darby Whitely was everywhere, harrying and pressuring the Canberra FC midfield.

Monaro were able to stymie their opponents until the 40th minute, when Palombi showed her class to score twice in the space of three minutes. Her first was a shot on the turn that was placed with precision, and the second was fired into the roof of the net after a typical elusive jinking run into the box.

Right on half-time a Goldstein shot was deflected into the Panthers net, however the assistant referee flagged for offside. Monaro went into the break 3-0 down and no doubt ruing the last five minutes of the half. For their part, Canberra FC would have been frustrated by their inability to make more of their superior possession for large periods of the half, but also relieved that Palombi was able to reassert their status as pre-game favourites just before the interval.

Canberra FC coach Nick Brozinic’s half-time talk must have been a good one, as his side extended their lead inside the first minute of the half. A passing move between Goldstein, Bunker, and Sharon Chao saw Chao in space in the box, and able to neatly control a shot with her left foot into the left corner of the net.

An impressive Hagen volley in the 49th minute was athletically touched onto the crossbar by Monaro keeper Hall, however the keeper was unable to get anywhere near Gill’s shot on the hour from outside the penalty box, with the ball clipping the right post.

Zoe Miller joined the right side of the Panthers backline just before the hour mark, impressing with her defensive efforts and occasional forward runs.

Jamie Berkeley got into the Canberra FC scoring action in the 65th minute after her volley deflected off Sofia Furlanetto, looping over Hall and into the Panthers net for a 5-0 lead.

Palombi was the recipient of a Berkeley-to-Gill passing move in the 75th minute, presenting her with a one-on-one opportunity against Hall in goals. The shot was struck with power but directly at Hall, who did well to hang onto the ball.

Gill was not to be denied in the 81st minute for Canberra FC’s sixth, having been off target with goal attempts in the 68th and 77th minutes. Her run into the box was spotted by  Berkeley, with Gill neatly controlling the ball and lobbing it into the top left of the net.

Image courtesy @KaiMoebus

Substitute Jordan Ujdur finished off proceedings for Canberra FC in the 86th minute, after Palombi centred a ball to her for an easy side-footer into the net to make it 7-0.

With only two games left in their regular season, the fact that Canberra FC was able to have six unique goal scorers will not be lost on coach Brozinic, and this should stand them in good stead come finals time.

For Monaro, seven goals is a lot to concede but Hall, Compton, Joy, Whitely, and the new faces in the Panthers lineup never stopped trying, so there are some promising signs for the future despite this stern test. There were precious few moments for Natina Skinner and her forward partners to shine in attack, and they had to content themselves for much of this game with trying to pressure the Canberra FC midfield and backline.

Both teams will enjoy a week off next weekend, with Canberra FC having played their fixture earlier in the month, while Monaro Panthers have a bye.

 

Final score:

Canberra FC 7 (Goldstein 8′, Palombi 40′ 43′, Chao 46′, Berkeley 65′, Gill 81′, Ujdur 86′)

Monaro Panthers 0 

 

Teams:

Canberra FC – Coach: Nik Brozinic

Nastaja Vasta, Alice Churchill, Krista Hagen, Amy McLachlan, Lara Agnew, Sharon Chao, Grace Gill (c), Jamie Berkeley, Rachel Goldstein, Brittany Palombi, Melisa Bunker, Isabella Tammaro, Jordan Ujdur, Tiana Malnar

Yellow/Red cards: Nil

Monaro Panthers – Coach: Ian Worthington

Liana Hall, Georgina Grant, Thembi Compton, Kaitlin Joy, Alyssa Bozinovska, Sofia Furlanetto, Sophia Bissell, Darby Whitely, Liz Edwards, Natina Skinner, Kelly Stirton, Cheyanne Girvan, Lila Brewer, Bella Wallace, Shania Settin, Zoe Miller

Yellow/Red cards: Nil

 

Around The Grounds:

Gungahlin United 0 – 0 Canberra Olympic

Woden-Weston 0 – 3 Belconnen United (forfeit)

Tuggeranong United v Canberra United Academy – rescheduled to 1 August

Wagga City – bye

 

Ladder:

Pos Team P W D L For Against GD Pts
1 Belconnen United FC 12 11 1 0 69 2 67 34
2 Canberra FC 14 10 2 2 66 9 57 32
3 Canberra United Academy 13 8 1 4 50 18 32 25
4 Gungahlin United FC 12 8 1 3 32 16 16 25
5 Woden-Weston FC 12 6 0 6 27 31 -4 18
6 Tuggeranong United FC 12 4 0 8 12 49 -37 12
7 Canberra Olympic FC 12 2 1 9 10 58 -48 7
8 Monaro Panthers FC 13 2 0 11 19 53 -34 6
9 Wagga City Wanderers FC 12 2 0 10 13 60 -47 6