Despite slow start, Sykes still confident in Canberra United’s finals prospects

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Whilst Canberra United have had a stuttering start to their new A-League Women’s campaign, veteran Ash Sykes still believes that a finals appearance this season is a real possibility.

After being the surprise package of last year’s competition, making the finals for the first time since 2017, the girls from the nation’s capital have struggled to transfer that form into their new campaign.

Four matches in, Canberra currently sit ninth on the ladder, just a point above newcomers Wellington Phoenix.

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After beginning the season with two disappointing losses, where they were on the back end of late winners, hard-earned draws against Brisbane Roar and Perth Glory has given the group some belief.

Despite not collecting the three points in either of the fixtures, for Sykes those last few performances have been particularly pleasing and are a good indication that improvements are being made.

“We kept a clean sheet on Wednesday (against Perth) which is something that we hadn’t managed to do yet, plus we are creating more chances,” she said.

“If we trust the process the results will come.”

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Canberra certainly have been creating more chances of late, having 16 shots in their most recent fixture. That is only one less than their first two games combined.

Whilst that has been pleasing for Sykes, the natural progression needed from this statistic is clear.

“We need the next step and that is scoring goals,” she said.

This should not be a problem for Canberra, with last year’s Player of the Year Michelle Heyman, Allira Toby, Sykes, and a few promising youngsters in Taylor Young and Caspers leading their line.

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Whilst they have not been scoring as many goals as they would have liked to begin the season, this should change soon.

It is understandable that they are taking time to gel considering three of their five main attacking options this year only signed for the club during pre-season.

Sykes does understand that whilst the progression is good, it is crucial for them to not leave their run too late if they hope to be playing finals football this season.

“It’s a short season so the results do need to come fast,” she said.

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Brisbane Roar’s campaign last year should act as inspiration for Sykes and her team, with the Queenslanders not winning any of their first four games to start last season.

Remarkably they proceeded to win seven of their remaining eight fixtures to end up finishing second and securing a home final.

In Sykes’ mind this type of turnaround is definitely not off the cards.

“I think our game is certainly developing,” she said. “We as a group have come a long way. We need to keep pushing and fighting to get the results we need to climb up the table.”

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Fortunately for Canberra they have a big opportunity over the next few weeks to do just that, beginning with a rematch against Adelaide United on Saturday.

They then face the daunting task of playing three of the current top-four sides throughout the following month, with a catch-up game against Western Sydney Wanderers still to be rescheduled.

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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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