Brisbane Roar 2-3 Melbourne Victory
By Kieran Yap (18/12/21)
Above: Melbourne Victory celebrate Catherine Zimmerman’s match deciding third goal with five minutes to play. Photo: @gomvfc.
Lynn Williams was the difference in a tightly contested attacking match between Melbourne Victory and Brisbane Roar.
The results of the first two rounds show that Brisbane had two losses and Victory two wins, However, the defending champions went into this game vulnerable.
Brisbane were at home, in need of a win, and had played some great football in the opening games. Only a calamitous error and a deflected shot stood between them and at least a couple of points.
Victory on the other hand, were stretched at the back. Kayla Morrison’s absence was keenly felt in the derby against Melbourne City. Their local rivals took advantage with long balls over the top. Claudia Bunge and Amy Jackson had trouble cutting out these attacks and Brisbane would have studied this.
The first clear chance of the game came from Victory. Kyra Cooney-Cross whipped in one of her trademark corner kicks. Bunge leapt at the back post and made clean contact. Her header momentarily looked dangerous but floated harmlessly beyond danger.
Anna Margraf had Brisbane’s best chance in the first half. She found herself in space, behind the Melbourne defence and with only Casey Dumont to beat. The Victory keeper made herself big and was decisive in coming off her line. It was a good save but a lost opportunity.
Victory did not waste their next opportunity. Cooney-Cross played in a deeper position, using her pace to carry the ball from deep and passing range to spread the play. For the opening goal of the game, she sent a perfect pass out to Harriet Withers. The new recruit picked out Lynn Williams with a perfect cross and the American bulleted a header in to take the lead.
Brisbane kept threatening. Throughout the game, they would have 15 shots on goal. Katrina Gorry’s class was evident in her first start of the season. Her whipped-in low ball was cleared by Victory but the Matilda was looking dangerous.
Shea Connors looked the most likely to score for The Roar, her battle on the left wing with Polly Doran was vital in this match. For the first half at least Doran was the winner, but Connors was a constant danger.
Brisbane came out in the second half in search of an equalizer but Victory scored first again. It was the same combination in the reverse order. Lynn Williams raced down the left-wing, twisting and bustling to the by-line. She hooked in a cross to the back post where Withers was waiting to knock it into the net.
If you were late back to your seat from the interval, you would have missed this goal. It was a quick rebuke to any of Brisbane’s halftime plans.
At 2-0 up, It would be safe to assume that Victory were cruising, but this was not the case. It has been the pattern of Brisbane Roar this season to attack easily, attack dangerously but struggle to score. They play some brilliant football and it would even be harsh to say they lack an edge upfront. As basic as it sounds, they have just been unlucky.
Shea Connors tried to break that streak. Her goal in the 65th minute gave the home side hope and the home fans something to cheer about. It was the first goal by either the men or women’s teams at home this season and it was a deserved reward for her effort and endeavour.
Connors raced onto a long ball from Rie Kitano. She was goal side of Polly Doran and Bunge for the first time in the game with space ahead of her. Dumont came out to narrow the angle but Connors took her time to place the shot into the goal.
Brisbane had a chance and they threw everything at Victory to try and score another while the champions held on and defended sometimes desperately.
Connors had a penalty claim waved away and an equalizer disallowed for a very close offside call but a second Brisbane goal seemed likely.
It would come, but not until after Victory scored a third. Williams again was uncontainable. She slalomed her way past two Brisbane defenders on the right flank. Her low cut back made for an easy tap-in by Catherine Zimmerman. Victory were 3-1 up and it felt like game over.
That was until Larissa Crummer had a say in proceedings. Brisbane’s number nine raced through the middle of the pitch and out positioned Courtney Nevin. Her first attempt was well blocked by Dumont but she lifted the rebound over the sprawling keeper to make it 3-2 with about a minute remaining.
Victory were faced with similar circumstances to last week. A one-goal advantage, a tired defence, and a resurgent opposition. Maja Markovski deserves plaudits for her match awareness and composed footwork. The striker kept possession, moved the ball safely, and earned a free-kick as the clock ticked down.
Victory held on again and Brisbane rued missed chances again. They had 15 shots on goal for the match and eventually more chances will start going in.
Melbourne have defensive reinforcements arriving soon. Until then they might just continue to try and outscore their opponents. It has worked so far and they have the attacking talent to do it.
Speaking about her team’s performance, Brisbane Roar’s Katrina Gorry admitted: “We’re creating chances, as we have in all three games now, but the finishing is not there.
“We need to be playing the ball around more, win our one on ones and start scoring some goals.”
Harriet Withers spoke of relief of getting the win: “It was a lot closer than it should have been at the end. When they got that first goal and got it back to 2-1 that was hard, but we got it out again to 3-1, then they came again. It was hard, but credit to the girls, they never give up.
“Kudos to Roar, they came back and never gave up. Everyone did really well. It was great to provide an assist for Lynn’s goal, she is an amazing player. I came off with a groin issue that has been niggling me all week. I just need to rest it and I’ll be back next week.”
Roar’s first goalscorer Shea Connors showed frustration at the outcome: “It’s disappointing again because I feel like we are a good side but we can’t get the results.”
Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-3-3): Worth, Clough, Rasschaert, Haffenden, Rankin, Gorry, Norrie, Hecher, Margraf, Crummer, Connors. Substitutes: Bailey (GK), Stamatopoulos, Kitano, Foletta, McElligott.
Scorer: Connors 65’, Crummer 90+4′
MELBOURNE VICTORY (4-2-3-1): Dumont, Doran, Bunge, Murphy, Nevin, Cooney-Cross, Withers, Barbieri, Privitelli, Zimmerman, Williams. Substitutes: Maizels (GK), Robers, Zois, Markovski, Iermano.
Scorers: Williams 36’, Withers 46’, Zimmerman 85′.
Referee: Lara Lee.
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