Canberra-Sydney all square
The status quo was preserved at the top of the Westfield W-League as Canberra United and Sydney FC fought out a 0-0 draw at Deakin Stadium in their highly anticipated top-of-the-table showdown.
Neither side was able to make the critical breakthrough despite several near misses and Sydney FC even survived the final ten minutes of the clash with ten players after Matildas international Servet Uzunlar was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for a blatant shirt pull late in the second half.
With Captain Ellie Brush unavailable due to suspension the home team was forced into a defensive re-shuffle with US import Taryn Hemmings deployed in a central role and tasked with keeping the lively Leena Khamis quiet, with Hayley Raso staring for the first time in attack.
At the other end the league’s leading scorer, Michelle Heyman, was up against Estelle Johnson in what shaped to be a pivotal battle.
It was Canberra who threatened first when Ashleigh Sykes took control of a deep Ellyse Perry free-kick and sent a shot across the face of Alison Lipsher in the Sydney goal, who was grateful to see the ball hit the post and rebound into her arms, as the home team began the match on the front foot.
The Sky Blues, who had netted eleven last week in destroying Perth Glory, always looked dangerous on the break and dictated possession for large parts of the match with Caitlin Foord and Heather Garriock proving to be dangerous when switching wings.
Indeed, Foord nearly broke the deadlock midway through the half with a fiercely struck shot from distance that had United number one Lydia Williams at full stretch diving to her right to palm the ball over the crossbar for a quite brilliant save.
Caitlin Munoz responded in kind for Canberra with a snap-shot that Lipsher did well to save low down to her left before the Sydney custodian was called on once more, alert to punching a cross clear under pressure from Sally Shipard before reacting sharply to gather the returned lob by the industrious Jennifer Bisset.
The diminutive midfielder was having a superb game at the heart of the United side blocking shots and throwing herself in tackles in a ferocious manner.
Her battle with Kylie Ledbook was one of the highlights of an absorbing game with the experienced Sydney number ten reduced to long range shots for the most part.
A half-time switch saw Georgia Yeoman-Dale replace Raso and her speed prompted a more direct approach from Canberra. Yeoman-Dale created a half-chance shortly after her introduction for Ashleigh Sykes, via Shipard’s lay-off, but the shot was weak and Lipsher held it easily.
Servet Uzunlar made sure Williams was on her game in the United net with her probing run and cross not far away from substitute Kyah Simon but the Sydney defender’s match turned sour when she received a second yellow card for a shirt pull on the half-way line after earlier being cautioned for kicking the ball away.
It left Canberra with around ten minutes, including stoppage time, to find a winner with Kahlia Hogg firing a volley just wide but it was the visitors who nearly stole the game.
Renee Rollason, a tower of strength in midfield, was clipped inside the area but her theatrical fall probably saved United as Casey Reibelt booked her for simulation.
Immediately afterwards Sarah Walsh crashed a shot into the side-netting but a draw was probably a fair result with Johnson and Hemmings stand-outs as they nullified Heyman and Khamis respectively.
Sydney FC 0