Melbourne Victory remain top of the table after a 2-1 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers in blustery conditions in Morwell.
Two scrappy goals to the team in navy blue in the first half set up the win and ensured Victory’s undefeated start to the season continued. The Wanderers meanwhile notched up their first goal of the season but couldn’t secure their first points.
Jeff Hopkins made two changes to his starting XI with Annabel Martin coming in for the suspended Angie Beard, while MelindaJ Barbieri relegated Melina Ayres to the bench.
Dan Barrett’s side was unchanged from its 1-0 loss to Newcastle last week.
The first half was all Victory with the quality of the goals not exactly indicative of the quality of the team’s play.
Natasha Dowie was unable to finish a great opportunity in the opening 10 minutes but made no mistake at the second time of asking. Grace Maher found Emily Gielnik who in turn played the through ball to Dowie. Her semi-blocked shot rolled over the line and into the net to see Victory take the lead.
The likes of Christine Nairn, Gielnik and Dani Weatherholt were all working together but unable to find a way past Jada Whyman who made some crucial saves.
Victory’s midfield was allowed to do as it pleased and the cohesion between the players in navy compared with those in white was stark; the Wanderers looked disjointed when they were in possession and weren’t very defensively solid.
Melbourne’s second goal was created by some superb defensive pressure from Gielnik on Whyman. The Wanderers defender came in to help clean up but couldn’t, allowing Gielnik to have a looping shot. Whyman was able to save but Nairn was on the scene with the follow-up and scored a real poacher’s goal.
Western Sydney came back from the break looking much better and improved with the inclusion of Ghanaian international Elizabeth Addo.
However, it was Kylie Ledbrook who came up with the much needed goal in the 73rd minute and produced a spectacular albeit wind-assisted strike. The audacious goal saw Casey Dumont get a hand to it but it wasn’t enough to keep it out.
Melbourne looked to have killed off any sort of Western Sydney resurgence with a Dowie goal two minutes later but it was disallowed for offside.
Addo continued to be the Wanderers best player as the team pushed for an equaliser. She had a chance in injury time to level things with a free kick in a dangerous position. However, the shot sailed just over the crossbar and the Wanderers had to settle for another loss.
Victory head into the bye with a five point gap between themselves and second placed Perth Glory. The Wanderers meanwhile will look to take the performance from the second half and translate it into a 90 minute shift against Canberra United next week.