Melbourne looking to make their first Grand Final | TWG Melbourne looking to make their first Grand Final | TWG

The first semi-final pits minor premiers Canberra United up against the fourth placed Melbourne Victory at McKellar Park.  In Season Four battles between these two protagonists have been tight and tense and this Saturday promises to be no different.

By their performances the fact that Melbourne Victory would play finals football wasn't in question, although they were required to wait until the final round for that confirmation.  This is the Victory's second tilt at the finals and, considering the first one was a spectacular football lesson, they are hoping this one will be a much different experience.  But let's be clear, this year's Victory team is a completely different football team.  Something that all in the club are quick to point out.

"Although we have got a lot of the same players, we are a different team than we were a year ago," says coach Vicki Linton.  

"I think the girls have learned a lot from last season just talking to a number of them especially the young ones."

"For them that was probably the biggest game they had played in.  They certainly feel a lot better mind set coming into this week."

Ask many and they will tell you that Melbourne is not just a dark horse in this finals series but a team many genuinely fear to take on. With their 4-4-2 combination, Melbourne are mix of very solid across all three zones; defence, midfield and attack.   The defence and midfield are filled by those consistent week in/ week out players.  Goalkeeper Brianna Davey has justified her selection throughout the season, Rebekah Stott has come into partner Maika Rutyer-Hooley to great effect while Danielle Johnson has added defensively and going forward.  The indefatigable Kendall Fletcher is the midfield anchor alongside Amy Jackson while out wide Ashley Brown.  

Melbourne's possession game relies on movement on and off the ball and it's in the final third that the Victory have caused sides headaches.  Katrina Gorry has been instrumental with her creativity while captain Jodie Taylor provides the goals. One criticism of Victory in Season Four has been their finishing of chances.  Melbourne will have their chances against Canberra but crucial to their success is their ability to capitalise on them and Linton is well aware of this.

"These games tend to end up being a midfield battle and we hope to dominate in that area."

"We like to threaten in the final third and we have been quite good at that."

"It’s just a matter of taking our opportunities as well."

Despite Canberra's formidable form in Season Four, Melbourne are quietly confident that they can pull off the surprise of the season.  

"We have already had good performances against Canberra and although it is the pressure of a semi-final, we are excited about playing them again."

"We showed last game we played them that tactically we are pretty good against them and it matches up quite well."

"It should be a really exciting game between the two teams but a really tough one as well."

Key Players: 

Jodie TaylorIn the past Melbourne has struggled to score goals but Taylor has changed that.  Her partnership with Gorry has meant the Victory will threaten plenty in the final third.  Will need to put away all chances, even the half ones.
Kendall FletcherNot the flashiest player, Fletcher at times goes unnoticed.  But the midfielder plays a crucial role whether covering the back four or providing numbers in attack.  She can also be relied on for a consistent performance for the full 90 minutes.
Rebekah StottCentre back Stott has been a large reason why Melbourne had had the second best defence in the league.  Stott's recovery work is second to none and provides a good mobile foil for Ruyter-Hooley.

Canberra United v Melbourne Victory

Saturday 21 January 2012

McKellar Park, Canberra

Local kick-off: 3pm

Referees: Kirralee Gardner / Sarah Ho / Allyson Flynn /Samantha Ockerby

Tickets available at the game: Adults $10, concession $5, kids under 12 free

Watch the live stream:

Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Brianna Davey (Gk), 2. Rebekah Stott, 3. Maika Ruyter-Hooley, 4. Kendall Fletcher, 5. Danielle Johnson, 6. Rita Mankowska, 7. Stephanie Catley, 8. Ashley Brown, 9. Georgie Koutrouvelis, 10. Jodie Taylor (C), 11. Caitlin Friend, 12. Jackie Vogt, 13. Katrina Gorry, 14. Enza Barilla, 15. Amy Jackson, 16. Louisa Bisby, 17. Gulcan Koca, 18. Stephanie Tanti, 19. Laura Spiranovic, 20. Cassandra Dimovski (Gk)

*five to be omitted*

Head to Head:  Melbourne: 2 wins, 4 losses, 2 Draws

Last Meeting:  Round 10, 30 December 2011: Melbourne Victory 1 (Taylor (pen) 20') – Canberra United 1 (Heyman 87')