Melbourne Victory has secured a third straight win over crosstown rivals Melbourne City courtesy of a Christine Nairn wonder goal to return to the top of the W-League table.
The navy team looked best when it was playing the passing, all-inclusive style. However, City was able to restrict the space, cut off channels and occasionally outmuscle Victory players making this style harder to pull off.
After Victory’s bright start, City took control of the match and while Rado Vidosic’s team did miss Spencer’s constant threat, they were still able to find attacking outlets.
Tameka Butt was everywhere; putting crosses in, taking shots, running into the box and doing the grunt work in the midfield.
City also benefited from the forward runs of Catley down the flank and – although less frequently – Stott bursting down the park from the centre of defence.
The light blue team seemed to be able to overwhelm and bamboozle Victory with quick combination play in narrow spaces. However, despite the attacking options and dominance in play, the reigning champions seemed to miss that killer edge.
Whether that be the final pass into the box, the central run from a player after some good work on the wings or the more clinical finish, City was dominant without making it count.
This is supported by the stats; City had the bulk of possession (62.6% to 37.4%) but only one shot more (12-11) than Victory. This was also the case for shots on target (4-3).
Victory’s defensive unit is also responsible in some part for City’s lack of goals. The work of Casey Dumont and Sam Johnson was particularly great.
The Victory goalkeeper was outstanding in a best on ground performance.
She was always up to the task, none more so than when Butt had a side foot, volley shot from close range which elicited a stunning, reflex save just before halftime.
In a similar vein, Johnson was colossal. The American import was consistently making key interventions and was cool, calm and solid at the back.
The win for Victory puts it back on the top of the table heading into a bye. City remain in fifth, only six points behind the league ladders and a point off fourth spot.