Canberra’s season ended by Easter Monday first goal heroics

Ally Green is swamped by teammates and coach Ante Juric after kicking her late goal. Photo: https://www.sydneyfc.com/

Sydney FC defender Ally Green has kicked her first W-League goal to help guide her side to a grand final.

Fresh off their third premiership, the Sky Blues convincingly ended Canberra United’s year in a 3-0 victory at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.

Speaking to FOX Sports post-game, Green herself didn’t even see the goal coming.

“I do them at training but I never thought I’d have a chance in the game, so it felt good,” she said.

The long range strike tested Canberra goalkeeper Keeley Richards, who had a busy day on the goal line.

Sydney was incredibly efficient, finding seven shots on goal from eight total.

Midfielder Clare Wheeler hit the scoreboard for her fifth goal of the season in the 64th minute, putting the pressure on Canberra.

“I’m happy with the win, the goal was the icing on the cake,” she said.

“I’m really happy with the performance of the girls and really happy getting on the scoresheet.”

The semi final was her first for the Sky Blues, having made the switch from Newcastle for the 2020/21 season.

“Coming from the Jets was a really big deal for me, I’ve been with the Jets for quite a few years,” Wheeler said.

“The girls and the team and coaching staff have made the transition really easy and I’m really enjoying my time here.”

The side will now look forward to the grand final against Victory on Sunday.

Wheeler says they won’t be getting ahead of themselves yet.

“You should celebrate it, it’s been a great year,” she said.

“There’s one more game to go and then we can celebrate next week.

“We can’t take any game for granted.

“A grand final is a grand final, anything can happen in 90 minutes.

“We’ve just got to make sure we turn up and we can get the win then.”

Canberra’s season ended, in numbers

For Canberra, this semi final will be a game to remember for a myriad of reasons.

With the loss, United remain winless in finals since the 2014 grand final win.

The game was almost lost before kick-off, with the late revelation that Michelle Heyman was unavailable for selection.

Heyman has scored in every win of United’s 2020/21 season, kicking half of the side’s total goals.

Captain Kendall Fletcher felt her absence strongly.

“Obviously you’re going to miss a player like Michelle Heyman,” she said post-game.

“What she’s done this season just in terms of scoring goals and helping us in the attacking third, of course we were going to miss her.

“However, I think we’ve played really well throughout the season, we’re not just one player.

“In the final third we didn’t have the firepower we needed to.

“We play as a team more than anything, and I think we did that today.”

The statistics were almost entirely on the side of United.

Canberra had 61% possession for the game, and 540 passes at a 77% accuracy.

Only managing four shots on goal for the game, the forwards struggled to convert opportunities all evening.

Sydney keeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman saved every ball that came her way.

Fletcher was proud of the way her team kept possession throughout the game.

“I think we dominated the game in terms of possession, we had a good game plan,” she said.

“They finished their chance in the first half. They had a few but we dominated play.

“We struggled to get shots on goal, and we had a few crosses and a few opportunities early.

“That’s the way soccer goes isn’t it, you dominate possession and dominate the game.

“We did a great job in the midfield, we did a great job playing through them and playing out.

“You can do that and then not get the result at the end of the game.

“Credit to Sydney for getting some great goals.

“It’s disappointing, but that’s the way it goes.”

The question remains: what’s next for Canberra?

In coach Vicki Linton’s first year at the helm, she took the team to its first finals series since 2017.

Fletcher believes anything is possible for this group.

“It’s a great group, and we’ve said from the beginning we love playing and we love playing for Vicki,” she said.

“Things happen in the off-season, but I’d love to do that, I’d play with this team any day of the week.

“I think we all feel that way.”

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