Two goals in two minutes kept Canberra United’s finals hopes alive after Michelle Heyman scored in her 100th W-League game to down the Western Sydney Wanderers at McKellar Park on Sunday.
It was a determined 2-0 victory in front of a raucous home crowd but United must still win its remaining three games to cement their spot in the post season.
A tense opening 75 minutes saw chances kept to a minimum as the sides exchanged blows through the midfield, before an explosive two minutes cracked the game wide open.
United pressed in search of the winner and when former Wanderers midfielder Ellie Carpenter’s shot deflected inside the box, Heyman pounced from what looked like an offside position.
The Canberra skipper turned on a dime on the six-yard line and buried her shot to break the deadlock as the flag stayed down and the crowd went into raptures.
Two minutes later Ash Sykes hit a beautiful through ball for Norwegian import Elise Thorsnes who made no mistake beating Wanderers goalkeeper Jada Mathyssen-Whyman to seal the result.
Heyman was named man of the match after scoring her 61st W-League goal in a glittering career as the 29-year-old shows no signs of slowing down in her 10th season.
“I just try and make my mark every game and I was always confident the goal was going to come. I’m a forward and should be scoring in every game – it’s my one job,” Heyman said.
“As soon as we score one goal we just get that rhythm and that belief within the team, to get two goals in two minutes was pretty exciting and I’m just glad to come away with another win to keep our finals chances alive.”
The Wanderers have only won two games this season and their maiden finals appearance will wait another year but they had several chances to deny Canberra a crucial three points.
Lee Falkon and Ellie Brush missed chances which would have put the visitors ahead in the first half and their defence was steadfast before faltering in the two-minute blitz.
United has the momentum early thanks to some sharp crosses from Heyman and Sykes but Western Sydney worked their way back into the contest in physical opening half an hour.
The Wanderers best chance fell to former Canberra star Brush when she missed from point blank as Haley Kopmeyer made a reflex-save on the line, while Falkon fired a rocket from 18 yards but it fizzed just wide.
Canberra young gun Ellie Carpenter dominated through the midfield against her old club and combined well with Thorsnes who was deserving of her goal on 77 minutes.
United coach Heather Garriock didn’t give her side a break over the Christmas break and it has paid dividends with United unbeaten in two games this year.
“In the first half we didn’t execute our game plan but when it came down to it in the second half we scored and from there we played like we train and were very direct and sharp,” Garriock said.
“We’re very good when we do have that self belief but until we get that first goal we play very tentatively, we’re going to have to put some plans in place to stop that over the next few weeks.
“It comes down to mindset, we can do it, we just need to believe we can do it. In terms of being able to execute our game plan for 90 minutes we still haven’t done that this season, so we can only get better and it’s exciting times ahead.”
AT A GLANCE:
Canberra United 2 (Heyman 75′ Thorsnes 77′) beat Western Sydney Wanderers 0