Canberra FC 7 (Rachael Goldstein 8’, Brittany Palombi 40’, 43’, Sharon Chao 46’, Jamie Berkeley 65’, Grace Gill 81’, Jordan Ujdur 86’) def. Monaro Panthers FC 0
By Jakob Gisik
Grace Gill is back and ready to fire for a side well-positioned to make another deep finals’ run in 2019.
The Canberra FC captain has battled a hamstring strain, a hip flexor strain and an ongoing Achilles problem this season, all of which have kept her sidelined for much of the year.
But the reigning player of the year returned on Sunday to lead her team to a comprehensive 7-0 win over the Monaro Panthers at Deakin Stadium, sealing Canberra FC’s finals’ spot in the process.
Gill was in ominous form for the home side in her return, but admits it was nice just to be back doing what she loves.
“Obviously as a footballer, all you want to do is be playing football,” Gill said.
“It’s just been little niggling injuries for me over the last few weeks, so I’ve been trying to build back from them and build back into match fitness and just take it a week at a time.
“It’s always difficult when you haven’t had much game time, but really pleased to come back in and have a pretty solid performance by the team as well.”
Canberra FC are no strangers to big wins this season, even without their star midfielder.
But those wins have often been highlighted by a Brittany Palombi or Rachael Goldstein goal scoring haul.
Sunday’s victory was slightly different, with six individual players hitting the scoresheet, something that Gill saw as a huge positive moving into finals.
“We were pretty good across the park in terms of everyone getting involved in goal scoring and trying to play our style of football,” Gill said.
“We’re really focusing on moving into finals football and building week to week, and I think we’ve been doing that over the last few weeks.”
Goldstein and Palombi again featured heavily for Canberra FC, with the latter scoring twice in three minutes to break the game open before half-time.
The hosts then put the foot down in the second-half; Sharon Chao curled a lovely strike into the bottom corner inside 60 seconds, before Jamie Berkeley, Jordan Ujdur and Gill all found the back of the net to round out the 7-0 score line.
Monaro fans had little to cheer about, but goalkeeper Liana Hall and fullback Thembi Compton shone on an otherwise difficult day for the Panthers.
Both sides have this weekend off, but Canberra FC will likely play a practice match in order to maintain momentum heading into finals.
“We’ve got next weekend off so we’ll try and get a match in,” Gill said.
“Then we’ve got a bye in a couple of weeks’ time so we’ll try and get another match in just to keep that continuity going into the finals series.”
Gungahlin United 0 drew. Canberra Olympic 0
Canberra Olympic pulled themselves off the bottom of the ladder in the NPLW, holding fourth-placed Gungahlin in an entertaining stalemate at Gungahlin Enclosed on Sunday.
For Gungahlin the game was a chance to jump over the top of the Canberra United Academy into third spot, but a resolute Olympic side held them out across 90 minutes to record a valuable point.
Now sitting in seventh spot, Olympic face the unenviable task of hosting ladder-leaders Belconnen United on Sunday afternoon, while Gungahlin United will head to Wagga Wagga to take on the Wanderers.