Viking Park Christmas miracle the unofficial start to Canberra’s season

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There is something about Viking Park and late goals.

That’s the sentiment that rung around the stadium, the players and Twitter alike after Thursday evening’s fixture between Canberra United and Brisbane Roar. If you are a football fan, it is something that must be lived by, never switch off a Canberra United home game until the final whistle.

It would have been easy to do just that on Thursday night, the truth is Canberra should never have gotten anything out of the fixture.

Down by two goals in the 86th minute against a Roar side looking for their first win of the season, it should have been a nervy yet reasonably simple victory for the away side.

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However, not to the knowledge of the faithful Canberra home crowd, an early Christmas miracle was about to occur.

After leading early in the match, the home side found themselves down by two with mere minutes remaining, staring firmly down the barrel of a third straight defeat to kick off their 2021/22 A-League Women’s campaign.

A long-range free kick from star midfielder Grace Maher in the 87th minute only seemed like a consolation goal, maybe reason enough for a glimmer of hope.

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For the Canberra United girls that goal wasn’t just for pride, instead it gave them the chance they needed.

They were never going to let that opportunity slip.

After five minutes of constant pressure, it was eventually a cross from Maher and a volley from young gun Holly Caspers that sealed the 3-3 draw in stoppage time and got them their first point of the season.

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For coach Vicki Linton that point was no less than what they deserved over the last few matches, which included losing to an 80th and a 91st minute goal against Melbourne City and Adelaide United respectively.

“I think we deserved something out of our last 3 games,” she said. “I love to see that spirit at the end to get that result.”

It’s matches like those that Linton feels can really help motivate a team, something she hopes translates well to this current Canberra squad.

“Hopefully that just sets us up moving forward for the rest of the season,” she said.

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Despite being off the field during the last few frantic minutes, new recruit Allira Toby certainly contributed to the result, setting up Michelle Heyman for their first goal of the evening.

For the former Brisbane Roar striker, to be able to fight back from that losing position fills her with nothing but belief for the rest of the season.

“I am really proud of the girls for actually fighting back and getting something out of that,” she said. “Today is the start of our season and we are ready and we are going to finish strongly.”

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Like Toby said, it feels like Thursday evening truly was the unofficial start to Canberra’s season. There is no need to worry about the previous results, those can’t be changed.

However the feeling at Viking Park, as well as from their fans all around the world, is that this draw could be the start of something special.

Whilst it is only one point, the way the result was obtained means something. When the going gets tough at any stage throughout the season, it’s something that the squad can always remember and use as inspiration.

Whilst football is a game of unknowns, Thursday evening’s match proved one thing is for sure. Do not switch off a Canberra United game before full-time this season, because you are almost guaranteed to miss out on something remarkable.

Feature Image Credit: Mark Metcalfe

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William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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