Melbourne Victory 6–0 Perth Glory
By Kieran Yap
It was another round of mini finals in the Dub this weekend when Melbourne Victory hosting Perth in search of a win to secure their finals place.
They named an unchanged line-up against a Glory side that had held them to a one-goal win two weeks ago and Perth were hoping to improve on that performance to send Kat Jukic off in style in her retirement game.
The opening stages of the match were closely contested with all the pressure on the home side and Perth looked to have an early goal to celebrate when Hana Lowry bundled the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately for the visitors the young midfielder had been judged to have fouled Gabby Garton and the goal was contentiously disallowed.
Victory soon clicked into gear, Lisa De Vanna ran onto a long ball behind the defence and looked to be clear in on goal before losing her footing and Annalie Longo threatened on multiple occasions, getting on to the end of crosses from De Vanna and Amy Jackson but unable to beat Lily Alfeld in the Perth goal.
Kyra Cooney-Cross was next to be denied by the goalkeeper with a curling left foot strike from distance tipped over the bar, Glory were holding on, but it looked like the floodgates were straining.
The opening goal came soon after, Angie Beard tore past her opponent on the left flank and whipped in a low cross that was met emphatically by Melina Ayres in the six-yard box, Alfeld had no chance at stopping the goal, the pace on the cross and the timing of Ayres run was perfect, the finish might have been the easiest part though it was very well taken.
Ayres doubled her tally minutes later when De Vanna’s shot from deep was spilled by Alfeld, the striker reacted quickest and got to the ball before any defender to slide it under the scrambling goalkeeper to make it 2-0 before half time.
The onslaught continued in the second forty-five, Kyra Cooney-Cross won a corner with persistence on the left and swung the ball into the six yard box where Claudia Bunge leapt to head to ball into the net, it was 3-0 and Victory were in cruise control.
To their credit, as they have done all season, Glory did not take a backwards step, they kept trying to score and keep the ball with no inclination to park the bus, they had come to play football and Hana Lowry typified that attitude with a stinging shot on target that Gabby Garton was equal to. If Perth can keep getting Lowry into scoring positions or facing goal with the ball more often she could do a lot of damage to teams next season.
Victory had no intention of resting on their lead and the returning Catherine Zimmerman made it 4-0 after Cooney-Cross’s first time shot bounced off the crossbar and the American recruit was able to control it and slide it home.
On the hour mark the dominant Cooney-Cross scored one for herself, the ball dropped to her just inside the penalty area, with a sumptuous first touch she cushioned it down with her left foot and with her second she shifted it into space with her right, she finished into the bottom corner to make it 5-0 with a well-placed finish beyond Alfeld.
Victory and especially Cooney-Cross were not yet finished, on the seventy-sixth minute, she raced onto a long ball on the left wing and with no teammates in the middle she charged straight at goal. As she neared the target Alfeld stood her ground, forcing Cooney-Cross into a decision, she elected to go with raw power this time and hit the ball with fury right over Alfeld’s head, crashing it into the net. She struck it venomously, like the ball had somehow personally offended her and wheeled away all smiles in celebration. It was 6-0 and the rising star had two goals and two assists.
Cooney-Cross was the dominant player in an imperious display by Melbourne Victory, as the game neared the end it looked like the only way to stop her at full flight was by simply grabbing her shirt but the whole Victory team was in frightening form and even the usually demanding Jeff Hopkins looked to be having fun when Natalie Martineau narrowly missed a chance to score when her header hit the post following another Cooney-Cross delivery.
The game ended 6-0 and Melbourne jumped from fifth to seconf on the table with a chance to finish top of the league with a win in their final match. This game was a warning to the rest of the competition and they look to be hitting their best form at the right time.
Perth Glory have endured probably the most difficult season in W-League history, due to their geographical isolation and the restrictions due to COVID-19 they were unable to play games early in the season and their hastily assembled squad struggled to find rhythm. Despite this they began every game attempting to win or at least take the game to the opposition. There are some quality young players in their line-up and they were unlucky to lose Gemma Craine to injury so early in their campaign. They should be admired for the way they approached the year and hopefully with better preparation and minus a pandemic they can look forward to a better 2022.
Victory play Sydney FC in just three days in what could be the biggest game of the season so far as a premier decider and a potential grand final preview. It will be a titanic encounter and a wonderful way to end the W-League regular rounds.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Garton, Doran, Beard, Bunge, Morrison, Jackson, Barbieri, Longo, Ayres, Cooney-Cross, De Vanna. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Martineau, Privitelli, Eliadis, Zimmerman.
Scorers: Ayres 21, 35. Bunge 48. Zimmerman 53. Cooney-Cross 60, 76.
PERTH GLORY: Alfeld, De La Harpe, Rigby, Anton, Wallhead, Steinmetz, Lowry, Morgan, Jukic, McKenna, Charalambous. Substitutes: Bennett (GK), Carroll, Doeglas, Moreno, Tabain.
Referee: Rebecca Mackie.
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