Canberra United is on the verge of missing finals qualification for the fourth year in a row.
Since the team’s top of the table finish in the 2016/17 W-League season, which saw it go down 0-1 in extra time to champions Melbourne City in the semi final, United has entered a cycle it can’t seem to escape from.
The same pattern of starting the season well with early wins before dropping off in the second half has repeated itself for the past four seasons without fail.
United has failed to place higher than 5th after round seven, the mid-point of the season, since that fateful semi final.
It has further only won three of a possible 17 games in the second half of the past four W-League seasons.
The question for head coach Vicki Linton in her first season at the helm then, is how does she prevent history from repeating itself?
“It’s the business end of the season,” Linton said before Sunday’s game.
“You can prepare for one team and spend all that time on the training field working on certain things that we want to do.
“This group of players is a really good one. It has been a really challenging in a whole load of ways.
“What we can do is put our best foot forward and seeing what happens.”
Linton’s side had not won since the end of January before the weekend’s win against Brisbane, in an impressive 3-0 victory over fellow finals hopefuls Western Sydney.
Since then, United was handed a 4-0 beating at the hands of rival Sydney FC, went down 2-1 to Adelaide United and drew with Melbourne Victory 1-1 at Epping Stadium on Sunday.
The team still have to overcome top side Sydney FC if they want to make finals, though luckily the rematch will be at the comforts of Canberra’s home stadium Viking Park.
While wins against the struggling Newcastle Jets and Perth Glory will be at the back of United minds, neither are any certainty, having to travel interstate for both clashes.
Travel has been an issue, with the side only managing two draws and two losses in their forays away from home this year before defeating Brisbane Roar in a 4-1 demolition on Sunday.
United has inched up to fifth position on the W-League table, but the up and down side will still need to win at least two of its last three matches if it hopes to break its finals drought.
While star striker Michelle Heyman is rarely spotted without her trademark beaming smile, even she was becoming restless with her side before the game against Brisbane.
“I feel like we’re a little bit soft, we need to harden up,” she told FOX Sports at the half-time break in United’s game against Sydney.
“I’m going to say that to them because we need to get a bit feistier on the field.”
Heyman got herself back on the scorecard in the 29th minute against Brisbane, breaking her scoreless streak since her dual goal effort against Western Sydney.
Subscribe to our newsletter!