Canberra United 1 Newcastle Jets 0
United clip Jets' wings
Nicole Sykes' first ever W-League goal proved enough for Canberra United to defeat Newcastle Jets 1-0 at Deakin Stadium on Saturday, December 8. Photo: Jay Cronan
CANBERRA UNITED are back in the top-four after a 1-0 win over the Newcastle Jets on Saturday at Deakin Stadium.
Nicole Sykes scored the lone goal for the match, her first in five years playing in the W-League.
The defender took possession inside Newcastle's half, accelerated past a handful of static Jets players, then cut inside to slide one past goalkeeper Eliza Campbell and secure the result in the 34th minute.
''Everyone just sort of stopped, so I went for it,'' the speedster said of her goal. ''I just kicked it as hard as I could.''
''Everyone's feeling it a bit,'' Sykes said of the 30-degree afternoon. ''All the games we've played, plus the heat on top.''
United's tough schedule - six games in three weeks, including a trip to Japan for the World Club Championship - had clearly taken its toll on the players.
With only goal differential separating Canberra from Sydney FC and Brisbane, United would have benefited from more goals against the team it beat 5-0 when they met in round two, but coach Jitka Klimkova was content with the three points.
''I am tired, I can't imagine the girls - they have to be tired after this tough three weeks … so I'm really happy with the result,'' she said. ''Even if the performance wasn't the best … I absolutely understand after this crazy schedule we had. I take the win.''
Nikki Washington and Hayley Raso created plenty of opportunities for Canberra down the wings, but didn't look dangerous in the final third.
Caitlin Munoz went the closest to converting before Sykes' effort, a desperate hand from the advancing Campbell enough to keep the match scoreless. The Jets' keeper also denying a late effort from Georgia Yeoman-Dale.
At the other end, the Jets struggled to penetrate the Canberra defensive line, which was without an injured Caitlin Cooper, but the experienced heads of Ellie Brush and Ariane Hingst at the back held firm.
The Jets were dealt a blow in the 64th minute when captain Emily Van Egmond received her second yellow card after a clumsy challenge in the midfield.
Newcastle covered for their missing player admirably, with Klimkova not finding relief in the extra player.
''To be honest, sometimes playing against 10 is much worse than playing against 11, but we figured it out and still had few chances to score the goals,'' she said.
Klimkova paid credit to Newcastle for their effort even after losing Van Egmond.
''It's great to see a team, even if they have 10 players on the field, not give up, they wanted to play, they put some players higher. They left here looking good,'' she said.
CANBERRA UNITED 1 (Nicole Sykes 35m) bt NEWCASTLE JETS 0 at Deakin Football Stadium.