Dark Blues Take The Victory over Frustrated Jets

Newcastle Jets 0–2 Melbourne Victory

By Kieran Yap.

Above: Melbourne Victory celebrate a comprehensive victory in the Hunter Valley. Photo: @VictoryWLeague

After a lockdown enforced week off, Melbourne Victory travelled north to play Newcastle Jets for the second time in three weeks. It was a game that Newcastle had to win to maintain a chance of making the top four but they were up against the same side that had defeated them 4-2 in the previous round.

Melbourne welcomed back Lisa De Vanna to the starting line-up and Annalie Longo returned to the squad from injury, Newcastle had the in-form Tara Andrews up front supported by Rhianna Pollicina and brought Claire Coelho back as goalkeeper.

Victory started on the front foot, the attacking trident of Melina Ayres, De Vanna and Catherine Zimmerman pressed aggressively, any attempt by Newcastle to play out from the back was prevented and any time they did manage to clear the ball it was intercepted by Amy Jackson or Mindy Barbieri in midfield.

Despite this early dominance, Newcastle managed to create the first chance of the game, Rhianna Pollicina controlled and turned in attack and clipped a beautiful pass over the defence to Sunny Franco whose shot missed the target and flew over the bar. Her search for her first goal continues.

Above: Sunny Franco had a glorious early chance for Newcastle Jets. Photo: @NewcastleJetsFC

Victory responded immediately, Kyra Cooney-Cross embarked on a run down the left flank and was fouled, she took the resulting free kick herself and curled it in perfectly into the vicinity of Kayla Morrison. The Victory centre back met the ball cleanly and headed it over Coelho to put the visitors 1-0 up in the eight minute.

The ball in by Cooney-Cross was wonderful but all the power and direction was from Morrison, Coelho was slightly off her line but was beaten by an excellent finish.

The visitors kept the pressure up and ensured that Newcastle were pinned back into their own half, frustrations started to show early with players committing needless fouls when starved of any meaningful possession, the Jets were lucky not to be two goals down and had Coelho to thank for preventing Ayres extending the lead. Lisa De Vanna found the young striker in the six yard box, she shifted into enough space to get the shot away but it was blocked well when a goal looked certain.

The Melbourne attack was largely clicking but for a few instances of Zimmerman and De Vanna moving into the same space, when the two linked up well though they looked a deadly combination, a ball whipped in from De Vanna found the American in front of goal but the pace of the pass made it difficult to turn in and it was another let off for Newcastle.

Kyra Cooney-Cross was busy throughout, dribbling, probing and testing the home defence, in the 24th minute she lined up a shot from distance that thundered off the crossbar to the relief of the Newcastle fans.

Above: It was another impressive performance from Melbourne Victory teenager Kyra Cooney-Cross. Photo: @NewcastleJetsFC

Minutes later, Newcastle’s luck ran out and Victory had their second goal, Melina Ayres received the ball on the edge of the 18 yard box, thinking quickly she played a short through ball ahead of Catherine Zimmerman who burst past her marker and shot beyond Coelho to make it 2-0.

Newcastle had struggled to get into the game but before the half time break they managed to forge two great chances for Tara Andrews to pull one back. The first after she controlled a long pass into the box off her chest, she hit the half-volley cleanly and on target but Gabriela Garton managed to save it at the near post, the second was a close range header on goal, she met Gema Simon’s cross well and timed her run perfectly but the ball flashed wide.

Those two chances would be the last real opportunities to Newcastle and the second half followed much the same pattern as the first. Victory chased down Newcastle when they had the ball and maintained possession when they got it back, Cooney-Cross continued to torment and Lisa De Vanna saw her left foot strike saved comfortably after some clever footwork to find space.

Victory again struck the woodwork when Mindy Barbieri lined up for a free kick around 19 yards from goal. Her previous goal this season was from a similar range against Melbourne City, she had struck it venomously on that occasion, this time she opted for placement, the result was nearly spectacular but the ball bounced off the crossbar.

Melina Ayres had another good chance to score after she rose to meet an Angie Beard cross into the box, but she couldn’t redirect the whipped in ball on target, De Vanna and Zimmerman tried to play a neat exchange of passes through the defenders but Zimmerman couldn’t quite reach the final ball and Cooney-Cross again shot from distance but missed off her left foot.

Above: Newcastle Jets’ Sophie Harding tries to get away from Melbourne Victory’s Angie Beard. Photo: @NewcastleJetsFC

The young playmaker was a menace with the ball from the first whistle and Newcastle struggled to contain her, when she left Victory for the 19/20 season she was used mostly as a speedy striker or wide player, on her return she becoming a dominant midfielder. Newcastle had no answers for her mobility and skill to the extent that Rhianna Pollicina was shown a second yellow card after clipping Cooney-Cross following a typical mazy run through the middle of the pitch.

It was a comfortable win for Melbourne Victory in the end, their only disappointment would have been that they did not score more and if goal difference comes into play for the final ladder it may be a day they see as a missed opportunity.

Newcastle did not resemble the side they had been for much of this season, they lacked attacking ideas and looked outrun and outworked all over the pitch.  While they are not mathematically out of contention for finals, time is running out and they will be looking to return to the dynamism and creativity that has been more typical of them this season.

Teams: NEWCASTLE JETS: Coelho, Tamplin, Simon, King, Brewer, Bass, Franco, Davis, Pollicina, House, Andrews. Substitutes: Simonsen (GK), O’Brien, Petratos, Chronis, Harding.

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

Scorers: Morrison 8, Zimmerman 30.

Referee: Casey Reibelt.

Attendance: 652.

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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