Melbourne Victory left-back Angela Beard believes her team is good enough to challenge for the championship this season after downing their crosstown rivals at AAMI Park last night.
Beard was on point in last night’s 2-0 win over Melbourne City as the Big V stole the show in front of 1619 people.
Victory are on top of the table for the first time since City’s induction into the W-League and the former Brisbane Roar defender said the squad was building something special this season.
The 21-year-old, who is playing her second season with Victory, added the team had evolved over the past two years and could seriously contend for the championship.
Beard knows about the heartache of missing out on a Grand Final, after she missed a penalty for Brisbane in a semi-final shootout against City in 2016.
“With the team over the past couple of years, it was definitely a rebuilding phase,” Beard told The Women’s Game.
“I think definitely this season, with the people we’ve brought in like Em Gielnik, I reckon at least finals, if not the Grand Final.
“Honestly, if we have our heads screwed on and we just take it game-by-game and we don’t get ahead of ourselves, each weekend the aim will be to get the three points and eventually we’ll head up.
“With every win, the girls are always ecstatic. Especially beating City and especially at AAMI Park, we were over the moon dancing and getting around each other. The vibe and the culture here has definitely changed in the last couple of years.”
Victory coach Jeff Hopkins won two W-League championships with Brisbane and Beard credited the former Fulham defender for changing the culture at the Big V.
Victory finished last in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 campaigns and then seventh last season.
“The only reason I came here in the first place was for Jeff,” she said.
“I had him at Roar a few years back. I just think he’s a great coach and he gets the girls, he knows how to rev us up for a game, especially for a derby and I think we’re really lucky to have Jeff.
“We made a statement that Victory owned AAMI Park last night even though there was a lot of debate about what was going to happen and what the score was going to be.
“I think that even on paper, they’re technically the better team, but there was a lot of heart, effort and I think the girls really backed each other.”
Beard made two tackles, won three duels and made two interceptions against City, leaving her happy with her personal performance.
“All the girls around me really bring my performance up, just by their own personal performances and being consistent really helps,” she said.
“In the offseason, I was playing in the NPL for Calder United and I was more of a winger, but I’ve definitely come back into the W-League and I’m really trying to work on my defence.
“I know I was always a very attacking full-back, being a winger before, I brought a lot of those attributes with defence with me. Being strong and helping the girls in my role as a left-back, I think that was very important last night.”