Ayres Goal Gives Champions First Victory

Melbourne Victory 1-0 Wellington Phoenix

by Ryan Miller-Woods (4/12/22)

Above: Mackenzie Barry (left) battles it out with Melbourne Victory’s Tiff Eliadis at Epping Stadium today. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.

Defending champions Melbourne Victory have won their first game of the A-League Women’s season thanks to a header from Melina Ayres.

For a third week running, Wellington had a productive first half and created chances to score themselves. However, Natalie Lawrence’s side have now conceded at least one goal from a set piece in their first three games of this season which is something that needs to be fine-tuned sooner rather than later.

The first major chance of the match came in the fifth minute as Beattie Goad of Victory made a great run into the box which met the feet Alex Chidiac who had first-time shot at goal that went directly into the gloves of Wellington goalkeeper Brianna Edwards.

Above: Kayla Morrison looks for the pass today. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

Goad’s run four minutes later led to a shot that needed Edwards to repel once again. into the box, as her subsequent shot at goal was blocked by the legs of Wellington’s Edwards. For the Phoenix, despite them not having as many shots in the game at that point, they were not without their chances.

Five minutes into stoppage time at the end of the half, the home side hit the front. Chidiac’s cross into the box met the head of Ayres who directed the ball into the top-left corner.

Victory almost doubled their lead 10 minutes after the re-start when Ayres’ shot just sailed past the side netting.

Above: Melbourne Victory goalscorer Melina Ayres holds off Mackenzie Barry. Photo: Melbourne Victory.

As the action entered its last 15 minutes, Wellington had a great chance to level but the corresponding pass made deflected off Paige Satchell allowing Victory keeper Casey Dumont to comfortably save. Shortly afterwards the visitors went close once more as Michaela Foster’s free-kick curled just past the right-hand post.

Victory had chances of their own to make the game safe and young gun Paige Zois turned in the box to find Maja Markovski whose shot was straight at Edwards. Then Chidiac made a great run and hit an effort from outside the box that agonisingly hit the post.

Wellington are on the road again next week against Canberra United which will most likely include Wellington’s top goalscorer from last season Grace Jale (now at Canberra), who if she scores next week will have scored in the most consecutive games in the A-League Women since the 2015/16 season.

Above: Chloe Knott battling away for Wellington Phoenix today. Photo: Wellington Phoenix.

As for Victory, they are travelling away to Perth Glory which won’t be an easy task by any means as Glory will be looking for retribution for narrowly missing out on Final football to Jeff Hopkins’ side at the end of last season.

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY (4-3-3): Dumont, Nash, Bunge, Morrison, Simon, Kellend-Knight, Eliadis, Chidiac, Goad, Privitelli, Ayres. Substitutes: Templeman, Murphy, Zois, Markovski, Briedis.

Scorers: Ayres 45+5’.

WELLINGTON PHOENIX (4-4-2): Edwards, Foster, Barry, Van der Meer, Cicco, Whinham, Hassett, Knott, Robertson, Pritchard, Satchell. Substitutes: Candy, Vosper, Gomez, McMeeken, Clegg.

Referee: Kate Jacewicz

Attendance: 589.

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