With just three weeks of the regular season remaining and playoffs on the horizon, competition within the Westfield W-League has heated up. Following Round 12, just six points separate the top five teams, four of which hold on-loan players from Portland Thorns FC.
Ashleigh Sykes highlighted Canberra United's efforts in an eight-goal thriller with Perth Glory Saturday night, as the 26-year-old midfielder notched a brace performance in the 4-4 draw. Perth jumped out to a 3-0 lead within the first 22 minutes of play before Sykes sparked Canberra's comeback charge just minutes later.
Despite a denied shot from range earlier in the match, Sykes continued to press the issue and connected on a through ball into the box during the 24th minute. With a sliding attempt under pressure, she poked a shot past Glory goalkeeper Hayley Kopmeyer's legs, pulling the visiting side within two.
Ten minutes later, Sykes doubled Canberra's tally as the captain converted a set-piece attempt from back post. Laura Bassett served a corner into the box and despite excess traffic at the front post, the ball soared to an unmarked Sykes who flicked home the loose ball.
Sykes looked to equalize-and secure a hat trick-just five minutes later but her 37' attempt zipped just wide of the goal.
An eventual 4-3 line at the break turned to a 4-4 tie in the second half as Elise Thorsnes put Canberra United back on even ground in the 62nd minute. However, neither team was able to notch a fifth goal as the score went final in regulation.
With the draw, Canberra United pulls within a single point of the league leaders. They'll seek to secure one of three remaining playoff slots in their final two contests of the regular season.
Celeste Boureille, Hayley Raso and Brisbane Roar FC played to a scoreless draw in Melbourne Saturday night, becoming the first club to punch their ticket to the 2018 W-League Finals Series. Boureille and Raso, who each earned starts against two-time defending champions Melbourne City, went a full 90 in the match. Boureille connected 46 passes at a 89.1% accuracy rate, while Raso created havoc on the wing throughout the night, putting a pair of shots on goal during the contest.
With the draw, the Roar pull three points clear of second-place Sydney FC with two rounds to go, securing a playoff berth and continuing their undefeated record on the road with a single away contest to play.