Gritty win sends Canberra FC into Grand Final again
Gungahlin United 0 def. by Canberra FC 1 (Grace Gill 17')
Canberra FC progressed to a third straight PS4 National Premier League Women’s grand final with a 1-0 win in the preliminary final against Gungahlin United on Sunday.
A strong showing from Canberra FC’s experienced core allowed Mark Risteski’s side to take an early lead, and see out the remainder of the game with a strong defensive performance.
Gungahlin United came into the game with confidence, having challenged favourites Belconnen United right to the final whistle last week.
Diego Iglesias’ looked hungry for an early opener as they worked the ball well in the front third, but a poor touch from Grace Field ultimately let her down after a silky back-heel pass from Ashleigh Palombi.
The two sides looked nervy in the early stages as Gungahlin pushed up the field, but remained wary of a Canberra FC counter.
Canberra FC’s all-important goal came against the run of play, when Grace Gill spotted Diarna Genovesi in yards of space down the line, and the winger delivered back to Gill perfectly and the veteran slotted home after 17 minutes.
The goal gave Canberra confidence, as they pushed up the field and started creating a string of chances.
Gungahlin forged a great opportunity on the cusp of half time, as Palombi found space and whipped a brilliant ball towards Alex Lawrence, but the forward simply couldn’t bring the ball under control as it skewed wide of the goal.
Both sides made changes over half time, with Gungahlin’s Erika Pennyfield replacing Darby Whiteley on the wing, and rather surprisingly, Chantel Jones dropping back into her former position as goalkeeper, with Nat Vasta replaced by Kate Thornton out on the field.
Canberra FC continued to press forward into the second half, and Gungahlin started to struggle as Palombi found herself isolated up front.
As the game past the hour mark, Gungahlin’s urgency began to show with Iglesias’ side switching to a back three and throwing players forward.
The switch nearly payed off, as Pennyfield sent in a well-weighted ball to Lawrence at the back post, but again the forward just couldn’t get the contact needed to test Jones, fumbling the ball wide of the far post.
Gungahlin persisted to the final whistle with an onslaught of attacking pressure, but they remained fruitless in Deakin as they were eliminated out of the competition after an incredibly strong year.
Canberra FC now remain the sole chance at breaking Belconnen United’s dominance, as they hope that the third time will be the charm in a third consecutive grand final against their rivals.