W-League: Canberra through to Grand Final

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Canberra United will play off in its third Westfield W-League Grand Final after defeating reigning champs Melbourne Victory 5-4 on penalties.

Canberra dominated most of the match and should have had the game wrapped up after ninety minutes. Kendall Flecther converted the divisive penalty with the ninth spot kick to bring an end to Victory’s title defensive.

With almost every suitable metropolitan ground out of action for various reasons, the match was moved up the freeway to Geelong at Simonds Stadium.
The locals were treated to a tense football match that was decided in the cruel fate that is the penalty shootout.  
It was a timid first half that never really threatened to excite.
The visitors dominated the midfield passage, suffocating the Victory in the middle of the field.
The first real chance on goal fell to United in just the fifth minute of play when Ashleigh Sykes was inches away from tapping home a Michelle Heyman cross.
Heyman burst through the Victory defence through the right then sent in a cross that Sykes was just inches shy from tapping it into an empty net.
Heyman was proving a real menace for the Victory all half with her size and speed too much to handle at times for the hosts.
It was Heyman again involved in Canberra’s next raid on the Victory goal when a tidy one-two with Sykes resulting in Sykes smashing a shot against the cross bar.
Victory’s only real chance of the half fell to De Vanna who couldn’t take full advantage of a one-on-one situation with Canberra keeper Chantal Jones.
Victory improved in the second half but still failed to cut open United.
Heyman was causing more problems for Victory but again came up short.
The Matildas striker had a glorious chance in the 61stminute when she got free from a corner but couldn’t get her headed shot home.
As the game wore on Victory ‘keeper Bri Davey excelled, making sure the game was still scoreless.
Davey put her body on the line in the 82nd minute with a fine double save to deny Sykes.
Canberra thought they had the winner just four minutes from time when Heyman again found space to get in header after a Nicole Begg cross from the left which bounced off the bottom of the post into the grateful hands of Davey.
Extra time mirrored much of the 90 minutes with Canberra dominating but unable to find a way past Davey.
A number of quality saves, mainly to deny Heyman, was the common theme of extra time.
After four spot kicks each the scores were ties at 4-4 with neither side giving an inch.
That changed when Gulcan Koca couldn’t get her penalty past Jones who made a telling save.
It was then left to Fletcher who made no mistake from the spot to send Canberra into next weeks decider.
Canberra await the winner of tomorrows second Semi Final between Perth Glory and Sydney FC to see who they will face off in the season decider.

Melbourne Victory: Bri DAVEY (GK), Hannah BREWER, Lauren BARNES, Steph CATLEY (C), Amy JACKSON, Racheal QUIGLEY, Chistine NAIRN, Lisa DE VANNA, Ella MASTRANTONIO, Beattie GOAD, Elli REED
Subs: Cassandra DIMOVSKI (GK), Alex NATOLI, Tiffany ELIADIS, Emma CHECKER, Gulcan KOCA
Canberra United: Chantal JONES (GK), Catherine BROWN, Kendall FLETCHER, Caitlin MUNOZ, Ellie BRUSH, Michelle HEYMAN, Sally ROJAHN, Nicole BEGG (C), Ash SYKES, Lori LINDSEY, Steph OCHS
Subs: Melissa MAIZELS, Tegan RIDING, Grace GILL, Grace FIELD, Julia DE ANGLES

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