Canberra turn the tables as Phoenix lose in Women’s A-League

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Canberra United have turned the tables on the Wellington Phoenix in their second Liberty A-League match in Australia’s capital.

Canberra have beaten the Phoenix 3-0 at McKellar Park, a complete reversal of the only previous meeting between the two sides in February.

The hosts opened the scoring inside 10 minutes and doubled their advantage before a half an hour was gone to take a 2-0 halftime lead.

The Nix came close to pulling a goal back early in the second-half before Canberra scored their third in the 53rd minute to ultimately seal the win.

The result lifts Canberra United up to fifth on the ladder, while Wellington remain at the bottom of the table without a point four rounds into the season.

Coach Lawrence: ‘We can’t cough up stupid goals like we did …’

Phoenix head coach Natalie Lawrence was disappointed with the nature of the defeat.

“There’s a lot of disappointment around the team [because] we wanted to move forward from last week and progress, and I think that first half wasn’t a true reflection of the work we’ve done and where the team are at,” Lawrence said post-game.

“We can’t cough off stupid goals like we did for the third because that just kills the game.

“If things had been different and one of those shots had gone in and all of a sudden five minutes into the second half it’s 2-1 then you have a different story, but going 3-nil down through our own mistakes killed the game for us.”

Lawrence believes all three goals the Nix conceded were preventable.

“We’ve got to be work on that. It’s not something we want to be known for coughing up goals.

“These are all things we can fix. All goals were avoidable so we just need to teach our players to make better decisions in those moments and under that level of pressure.”

Fern Emma Rolston makes her Phoenix debut

Natalie Lawrence made one change to the XI which started last week’s 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory, with Football Ferns forward Emma Rolston named to make her Wellington Phoenix debut in place of Michaela Robertson.

Chloe Knott again led the side in the absence of club captain Lily Alfeld and vice-captain Kate Taylor.

It was an end-to-end opening to the match with Michaela Foster producing a crucial block inside the opening minute to deny Canberra captain Michelle Heyman a shot on goal.

The Phoenix had their fair share of early possession inside the hosts’ half but weren’t able to find an opening.

They were then punished in the ninth minute when Canberra midfielder Grace Maher produced a fine left-footed finish to beat Brianna Edwards.

Main photo: Grace Maher turns to celebrate her opening goal.

The Nix were lucky to not go two behind a couple of minutes later when they gave away possession on the edge of their box. The woodwork came to their rescue, with United midfielder Laura Hughes rattling Edwards’ right-hand post.

Canberra doubled their advantage shortly before the half hour mark. The impressive Maher broke from midfield and found Serbian international Vesna Milivojevic, who delivered a dangerous ball to the back post where Heyman tapped home from close-range.

Wellington had a couple of brighter moments in the next 10 minutes with Rolston shooting wide from distance before Claudio Cicco produced a great cross that Knott wasn’t quite able to direct on target.

But Chloe Lincoln was largely untroubled in the hosts’ goal in the first half, while Edwards had to be quick off her line to deny Milivojevic Canberra’s third in time added on.

The Phoenix made a better start to the second-half, with Ava Pritchard twice coming close to pulling a goal back in a matter of seconds.

Te Reremoana Walker. … first appearance of the season. Photo: Shane Wenzlick / Phototek.

Pritchard directed a Foster cross narrowly wide of the near post in the 51st minute and was just inches away from scoring moments later. Canberra defender Sasha Grove produced a great goal-line clearance to deny the Junior Football Ferns forward, who steered a Paige Satchell cross to the far post.

Two minutes later the hosts had their third when the Nix surrendered possession in their own box. Milivojevic pounced on the loose ball then produced a cheeky back heel to find Heyman, who finished well into an empty net.

Rolston made way shortly before the hour mark and was replaced by Michaela Robertson, while Te Reremoana Walker made her first appearance of the season in place of Alyssa Whinham.

Wellington continued to search for a way back into the match but were primarily limited to shots from distance.

Robertson and Foster both weren’t able to trouble Lincoln and replacement ‘keeper Keeley Richards, who played the final quarter of an hour, while Satchell’s shot from outside the box sailed over the bar.

The small consolation for the Nix is they managed to halt Grace Jale’s goal-scoring run at six matches, denying their former team-mate the all-time record.

The Wellington Phoenix women will return home tomorrow to prepare for their first home double-header with the Phoenix men against Adelaide United at Sky Stadium next Saturday.


Game played on Saturday December 10, 2022

Canberra United 3 (Grace Maher 9′, Michele Heyman 27′, 53′)
Wellington Phoenix 0


Wellington Phoenix

12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa VAN DER MEER, 7. Chloe KNOTT (c), 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM (18. Te Reremoana WALKER 59th), 11. Betsy HASSETT (15. Zoe MCMEEKEN 80th), 13. Paige SATCHELL, 16. Emma ROLSTON (14. Michaela ROBERTSON 59th), 17. Claudia CICCO (2. Saskia VOSPER 70th), 21. Michaela FOSTER.

Unused substitutes: 22. Georgia CANDY (gk).

Canberra United

18. Chloe LINCOLN (gk) (1. Keeley RICHARDS (gk) 78th), 5. Emma ILIJOSKI, 6. Laura HUGHES, 8. Sasha GROVE, 10. Grace MAHER (3. Grace TARANTO 78th), 11. Grace JALE, 15. Madison MCCOMASKY, 16. Kennedy FAULKNOR, 17. Vesna MILIVOJEVIC, 19. Nickoletta FLANNERY (12. Hayley TAYLOR-YOUNG 59th), 23. Michelle HEYMAN (c).

Unused substitutes: 13. Sofia CHRISTOPHERSON, 24. Ellen GETT.

9. Ava PRITCHARD (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 54th
10. Grace MAHER (Canberra United) – yellow – 69th


This story is published with the help of the Wellington Phoenix.

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