Enigma of Victory

Adelaide United 0-1 Melbourne Victory

By Kieran Yap.

Adelaide entered this game on the back of a three game winning streak and with their only loss coming in the opening game in a seven-goal thriller. The Reds are starting to be whispered about as finals contenders and a win here would be a big step toward that goal.

Melbourne Victory began the round as somewhat of an enigma, they thrashed Melbourne City by six goals but two weeks later lost to Brisbane by the same margin, they were looking to bounce back and welcomed the returning Lisa De Vanna into the side although she started on the bench.

The first half was a cagey affair, neither side was able to gain any lasting momentum, both sides were rushed in midfield and struggled to penetrate each other’s defence. Maria Rojas, Adelaide’s Chilean star was deployed mostly as an out and out striker, trying to get in behind the back four but Claudia Bunge was focused and persistent in preventing Rojas from having an easy afternoon.

Above: Melbourne Victory’s Melina Ayres (right) who had an assist for her team’s only goal, takes on the Adelaide United defence. Photo: @WLeague.

Victory’s best avenue to goal seemed to be Angie Beard’s marauding runs down the left flank but her opposing fullback Charlotte Grant also had an early moment of magic when she skipped between two Melbourne players to cross early in the game.

Kyra Cooney-Cross had her claim for a spectacular goal denied when her in-swinging corner was dropped by goalkeeper Fryer-McLaren and the ball bounced off the inside of the near post. Victory players appealed and Melina Ayres began to celebrate but the referee and assistants were un-moved, no goal.

Fiona Worts responded for The Reds with a dash down the left and a dangerous cross that caused a moment of panic for Melbourne, the ball bobbled to Chelsie Dawber who sliced the ball over the bar when trying to find a gap between defenders.

Adelaide’s best chance came when Rojas ran onto a long ball and raced into the penalty area with only the ‘keeper to beat. She appeared certain to score and Garton did very well to stay on her feet and close down the angle, Rojas would’ve been disappointed not to finish more emphatically, but it was still a solid save. 

The second half was more open, Victory made some position adjustments with Privitelli switching to the right wing to inject some pace into the Melbourne attac. Adelaide defended with determination but struggled to get in sync in the forward areas. One of the most fun things about The Reds this season has been that a different player seems to pop up as a match winner each game, but this week they were struggling to find one. Fiona Worts looked most likely to break the deadlock with a good opportunity that Garton again was equal to.

Eventually Victory played their trump card, Lisa De Vanna came on and immediately showed her class with a clever turn in midfield and some aggressive pressing on the defenders.

Melbourne had been more aggressive in the second half and when the goal came it felt deserved. Angela Beard hit a deep free kick to the far post, Melina Ayres had the vision and technique to nod the ball back across goal and Catherine Zimmerman out jumped two defenders to head into goal off the crossbar.

Above: Despite the best efforts of Georgia Campagnale, Adelaide United fell to their first loss since their first game of the season. Photo: @AUFCWomen

Not satisfied to defend the slim lead, Victory kept up the attacking pressure, De Vanna found space on the left and whipped in a cross that Cooney-Cross was unlucky not to reach despite a desperate lunging attempt at a diving header.

One goal ended up being enough and Melbourne celebrated their second win of the season. They looked much more like the team of the first two rounds than the one that was overrun by The Roar last week and showed here that they could win in a scrappy tight finals-like physical game.  They do look a different proposition when De Vanna is on the park and keeping her fit will be paramount in Jeff Hopkins plans.

Adelaide was beaten, but not easily, they have become a difficult team to play against and the gap between the team’s best and worst form is closing. The moments of magic that had gotten results deserted them but hopefully they return next week, this was the first game of the season they have failed to score and the first game they have not been in a winning position at any point. The bar has been set high by their own performances and they will be aware of their own potential.

Note: I have elected not to address the elephant (or random mouse-clicking, euphonium owning man) in the room and instead just focus on the game… as we expect and demand the broadcasters can find a way to do from here on.

Teams: ADELAIDE UNITED: Fryer-McLaren, Grant, I. Hodgson, McNamara, Walder, Holmes, Campagnale, Condon, Dawber, Rojas, Worts. Substitutes: Grove (GK), E. Hodgson, Hogg, Kirkby, Mullan.

MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Privitelli, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Barbieri, Martineau, Jackson, Zimmerman, Cooney-Cross, Ayres. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Doran, Markovski, Zois, De Vanna.

Scorer: Zimmerman 78.

Referee: Rebecca Durcau.

Attendance: 1,105.

Impetus’ coverage of Australian Women’s Football is supported by The Chicken Salt Co. They are offering every Impetus reader 5% off all orders of Chicken Salt from their website. Go to https://www.chickensalt.co.uk/?mate=impetus and place your order – 5% will automatically be taken off of the cost. The coupon code is impetus.

Artwork: Graphics by PW

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