Melbourne Victory 0-0 Brisbane Roar
By Kieran Yap
Brisbane Roar’s visit to Melbourne Victory had much to excite fans and neutrals alike. The Queensland side boasted the most concentrated group of Matildas in the league, in Gorry, Yallop, Gielnik and Polkinghorne while Melbourne’s fans were excited by the returns of Lisa De Vanna and Kyra Cooney-Cross with Angie Beard captaining the side for the first time.
The match at CB Smith Reserve began at a fast pace, De Vanna almost immediately raced at the Brisbane defence and Victory launched a wave of three early attacks for no reward, Melina Ayres had the clearest opportunity but her cleanly hit strike from the edge of the box did not trouble Georgina Worth in the Brisbane goal.
Both sides had seemingly set out to press each other and deny time on the ball, both chances became scarce but Mariel Hecher managed to forge herself an opportunity, skillfully creating space for herself only to shoot over the bar.
Temka Yallop, Isobel Dalton and Katrina Gorry all had shots on goal but Gabriella Garton was well positioned to deny each of them. The new Victory keeper has big boots to fill this season, her predecessor Casey Dumont was a fan favorite and a huge part of Melbourne’s success, but based on this match, Garton looks comfortably up to the task.
The biggest event of the first half was not one to celebrate, twenty-five minutes in, on her Victory debut Natalie Tathem crumpled to the turf under no physical contact and the versatile and experienced recruit was stretchered off in obvious pain, hopefully she can recover as speedily as possible.
The physicality continued after the injury break with both sides trying to force each other into errors, Kyra Cooney-Cross embarked on a long run through the middle of the park, launching a counter attack that ended with her shooting just wide after the ball bounced back to her 20 yards from goal.
Victory’s and perhaps the game’s best opportunity up until half time came when Lisa De Vanna latched onto a long ball and found herself one-on-one against Worth, the Matilda’s all time leading scorer would have expected have made it 1-0 from that position but her left footed toe poke was under hit and directed straight at the keeper.
The second half continued in much the same fashion as the first, neither midfield could find their forwards in space and the early stages of the half presented another chance for Ayres but her shot was under pressure and Worth saved comfortably.
The game began to open up after the 70th minute, Victory substitute Annalie Longo made an immediate impact, her experience, control and movement helping the side find cohesiveness that it had struggled for up until that point and Matildas attacker Emily Gielnik drove into the penalty area and struck well only for Garton to tip the ball onto the cross bar with the faintest of reflex touches.
Angie Beard surged down the left flank after incepting a Roar attack and found Longo in the penalty area with the goal at her mercy but the New Zealand international blazed over to her own frustration. Moments later Gielnik ran again into the area from the flank and her hard low shot flashed wide at the near post.
Katrina Gorry’s well struck shot looked dangerous off the boot but sailed wide and Victory’s best late chances game from corner kicks, Cooney-Cross’s attempted Olympico challenged Worth but did not beat her, it would have made a spectacular goal.
Worth had the last meaningful contribution of the game when she stood under a dangerous looking high corner kick and held onto it at the second attempt, seconds later the final whistle blew and the afternoon had ended in stalemate.
Given the names on the team sheets it is surprising that nobody could find the back of the net, but the defending on display was excellent throughout and any chances came under pressure or were thwarted by excellent keeping.
Roar have now gone two games without scoring but are creating plenty of opportunities and it is only a matter of time before the score lines reflect their ability. Victory had to replace Laura Brock, Casey Dumont, Jenna McCormick and Natasha Dowie in the off-season. This massive task appears to have been accomplished and they seem to have forged a strong new squad.
The new signings seemed to gel well even thought some sharpness was lacking, De Vanna looked in good touch especially for somebody who has not played for much of 2020, the familiar change of pace and ball control has not diminished and new attacker Catherine Zimmerman looked comfortable stepping up from Calder United in the NPLW.
In the end a draw seemed a fair result, a late winner was possible for both teams but neither defense deserved to concede. Both sets of fans have much to be excited about the rest of the season and for most the disappointment will not come from the result but for Natalie Tathem, we all look forward to seeing her on the field again.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Morrison, Bunge, Tathem, Zimmerman, Barbieri, Cooney-Cross, De Vanna, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Jackson, Longo, Privitelli, Eliadis.
BRISBANE ROAR: Worth, Heatley, Rankin, Polkinghorne, Carroll, Dalton, McKenna, Gorry, Hecher, Yallop, Gielnik. Substitutes: Aquino (GK), Murphy, Torpey, Sutton.
Referee: Lara Lee.
|Canberra United||2||2||0||0||6||4||6||+ 2|
|Sydney FC||1||1||0||0||3||0||3||+ 3|
|Western Sydney Wanderers||2||1||0||1||2||4||3||– 2|
|Melbourne City||2||0||1||1||1||2||1||– 1|
|Adelaide United||1||0||0||1||3||4||0||– 1|
|Newcastle Jets||1||0||0||1||1||2||0||– 1|