Our City Women finished their regular season with a 3-3 draw against Canberra United at AAMI Park on Sunday evening.
Hannah Wilkinson and Rhianna Pollicina both found the back of the net in the first half, before Holly McNamara joined the party in the second 45 with her first goal since returning from an ACL injury.
City looked set to secure all three points but a fast-finishing Canberra netted twice in the last ten minutes to take a share of points, crucially though, it was enough for us to qualify for Finals.
Dario Vidosic made one change to his XI from last weekend, shifting Maria Jose Rojas to the bench and bringing Hannah Wilkinson back into the line-up.
Starting XI: 23. Melissa BARBIERI (GK), 8. Kaitlyn TORPEY, 3. Naomi CHINNAMA, 15. Emma CHECKER (C), 7. Julia GROSSO, 14. Katie BOWEN, 6. Leticia MCKENNA, 10. Rhianna POLLICINA, 24. Daniela GALIC, 9. Holly MCNAMARA, 17. Hannah WILKINSON.
Substitutes: 1. Sally JAMES (GK), 4. Chelsea BLISSETT, 19. Maria Jose ROJAS, 22. Bryleeh HENRY, 25. Darcey MALONE.
With big Finals implications on the line – admittedly more so for Canberra than us – both sides came out all guns blazing from the first whistle.
There was end-to-end action aplenty, and it took just 12 minutes for the opener to hit the back of the net.
Holly McNamara was well found with a lovely ball over the top from defence, before going on a great run down the right, eventually expertly cutting back to Hannah Wilkinson who made no mistake in tapping home from close range.
The lead was short-lived though, with Grace Jale hitting back for the visitors just two minutes later.
City was far from deterred with the quick equaliser though, continuing to create plenty of opportunities in the final third.
Both fullbacks in Julia Grosso and Kaitlyn Torpey had plenty of positive moments bombing forward, while Katie Bowen played a key role as an anchor of the City midfield.
Vidosic’s side was patient in its build-up and that would eventually pay off, taking the lead back in the 34th minute.
It was again McNamara the catalyst, this time cutting it back to housemate Rhianna Pollicina who found the bottom corner with a cool finish.
City continued to dominate the ball in the second half, creating plenty of chances although Canberra were also doing the same up the other end.
Appearing in the competition for the 101st time, Melissa Barbieri pulled off a few crucial saves to ensure City would stay ahead.
These would prove to be pivotal in the 59th minute when this time around, McNamara turned scorer to put City ahead 3-1.
Bowen split the Canberra defence with a lovely ball out to the right wing where the Matildas forward received and went on a driving run, before beating the onrushing keeper with a cheeky dink.
City looked the goods to see out the three points, but with its Finals hopes hanging by a thread, Canberra came home strong with a late flurry of desperate attacks.
Vesna Milivojevic was the one doing the damage for United, scoring twice in the last ten minutes to ensure the points were shared.
City’s place in Finals is now confirmed following Sunday’s win, finishing the regular season third on the table.
We’ll host Melbourne Victory in an Elimination Final following next weekend’s international break. Keep an eye out for the match details in the coming days!