Canberra close gap on Top Four in defeat of Wanderers

Another two goals for all-time Liberty A-League top-scorer Michelle Heyman have helped Canberra United breathe serious life into their top-four push.

Heyman’s double helped carry United to a 3-0 win against Western Sydney on Saturday, pulling them within two points of fourth-placed Melbourne Victory as they battle for a place in the finals.

Victory will play Adelaide on Sunday and could again extend the gap to five, although United will have a game in hand after this weekend’s matches.

Saturday’s McKellar Park drubbing was a Heyman masterclass, the veteran striker absolutely humming and finding her eighth and ninth goals of the campaign.

Having won three straight games, United coach Njegosh Popovich said finals were firmly on his club’s agenda with only five regular season matches left.

“How can you not be proud?” he said.  

“I don’t know when (was) the last time Canberra United won three games on the trot … it’s heading in the right direction and we’re taking one game at a time and moving forward.

So many moments worked well for us, players stood up to be counted, Michelle Heyman again a stand-out with those two goals.

“There’s a lot of belief within the club at the moment.”

Heyman blasted a shot home from just inside the box on four minutes and had a second from a similar position on 25 minutes to blow the game wide open.

The Wanderers had the ball in the back of the net on 15 minutes following a skied clearance, only for the effort to be ruled out for a push on goalkeeper Holly Lincoln.

Lincoln would deny them again – more conventionally – diving high to her right to stop an effort from Olivia Price in Western Sydney’s best chance of the first half.

Canberra had only 41 per cent possession in the first half but they broke with genuine venom, wingers Grace Jale and Nicki Flannery routinely finding space.

Sasha Grove was the beneficiary of one such move, placing home a brilliant Flannery pass on 54 minutes for her first senior goal.

It was another enticing display from 18-year-old Grove, the Young Matilda showing her versatility playing in a front three after Jale left the contest early.

“She’s got speed, the ability to do repeat runs and she’s versatile,” Popovich said of Grove.

“We’ve thrown her into the midfield, left-back, right-back and also as a winger up front.

“She has a bright future ahead of her. She likes to be a midfielder, but her pace out wide helps us and is a good release.”