Friday night football doesn’t get much better than Victory and Perth, with a notable crowd gathering for the double header.
Prior to the game, both teams were equal in points, producing a dramatic second and third place clash with the winner heading to the top of the table. Furthermore, Victory’s captain and striker Natasha Dowie is perhaps only equalled in her one-on-one abilities by Perth’s own skipper and goalscorer Sam Kerr.
Both sides rejigged their starting 11s. Nothing like an important game to experiment. One notable omission from Victory was Mindy Barbieri, with Lia Privitelli starting – her first of the season.
Youngster Jenna Onions started on the bench for Perth, with Jacynta Galabadaarachchi coming into the starting XI. Perth were at a slight disadvantage, having not played at AAMI Park for several seasons, and had not faced Victory at home since the 2016/17 season.
The first half can be summed up in one word – drama. Okay, maybe four words: drama and Dowie’s goal.
Much of this came from an abundance of shots from both sides starting early on, Privitelli and Dowie taking chances for the home side. Christine Nairn also went searching for a bite, sending a cannoning shot from outside the 18 yard at the 33rd minute. Emily Gielnik also was amongst it, making many runs and hitting the crossbar in the 40th minute.
The action ran end to end, with Perth also dishing up shots and testing Victory’s defence – some moments riskier than others. In the 28th minute, Kerr was able to breakaway on the end of a through ball from Hill.
Dumont had no choice but to come off her line and outside of the box, missing the tackle. However, Kerr’s ball around went far and drifted over the line. Hill also matched up with Dumont ten minutes later after a poor pass from Victory landed at her feet.
This time, Casey Dumont tackled and cleared.
A goal came for Victory in the 35th minute. Dowie went with her with her specialty, rounding Naughton at the line and scooping it around goalkeeper Eliza Campbell.
As well as shots, there were also plenty of tackles, translating into a highly physical and quite tense match early on.
Angela Beard received a yellow in the 22nd minute for a dangerous tackle. This continued into the second half, with Kerr receiving the same at 63 minutes for a similar offence. Privitelli came off with an ankle injury in the 72nd, with Kya Cooney-Cross subbed on.
Dowie missed a crucial chance to make it 2-0 in the 76th minute, unable to nudge through a slicing cross across goal from Gielnik. However, she claimed their second in the 83rd in contentious circumstances.
Gielnik nudged the ball out over the goal line at the end of a run, however, defender Gale attempted to keep it in whilst trying to get up from a slide tackle. An awkward manoeuvre sent Gielnik down with her - Jamie-Lee Gale later given a yellow – with Nairn crossing in the remnants and Dowie finishing it off.
However, this Perth side are now known to never give up and, true to character, they grabbed one back in the 90th. Kerr threaded the ball through to Hill who chipped it over Dumont’s slide tackle.
Moments later they looked to equalise with a searing run from Kerr down the left, her square ball in cleared promptly by Johnson, and continued to convincingly search for their second well into additional time.
Victory did not sit back and Dowie attempted to outrun Perth’s backline in the dying seconds, but the final scoreline remained 2-1 to Victory.