Melbourne Victory 2-2 Adelaide United
By Kieran Yap (26/2/23)
Above: Melbourne Victory celebrate Catherine Zimmerman’s wonder strike. Photo: A-League Women
A goal-of-the-season contender from Catherine Zimmerman rescued a point for Melbourne Victory against Adelaide United in the final match of Pride Round.
Things were looking positive for Victory when a hopeful Melina Ayres ball caught Annalee Grove by surprise. The attempted cross snuck in at the near post to give the home side an early lead.
It wouldn’t last long as Adelaide United defied the early momentum to score twice for the first time this season.
When Chelsie Dawber is allowed any amount of time to face goal, it spells trouble for even the best defences. Her pass inboard was flicked on by Isabel Hodgson, then cut back by Paige Hayward for Meisha Westland to tap in at close range.
The second came soon after. Victory failed to clear a corner kick. Jess Nash’s header fell to Dawber who prodded past Casey Dumont to give Adelaide the lead.
On the balance of play, Victory deserved more than their slightly fortune goal. This was their first match since the departure of Alex Chidiac, and while they looked comfortable in midfield they were missing the type of final pass the Matildas playmaker can provide.
To make up for Chidiac’s absence, Beattie Goad seemed to take on more responsibility. She started on the left but roamed freely and enthusiastically. Goad was at the heart of Victory’s most promising moves, but the offside flag denied them an equaliser on two occasions to the frustration of the home bench.
Adelaide also had their own changes to adapt to. With Fiona Worts on the bench, Adrian Stenta shifted Hodgson and Melinda Barbieri further forward than usual.
It seemed unorthodox on paper but produced the best-attacking display of their season so far. Barbieri’s role was similar to her positioning at Box Hill United during the NPLW season. She is a naturally attacking player and pressured the Victory defence when they had possession. Adelaide looked dangerous when they had the ball, but Victory maintained control over much of the match.
Victory went into this game needing a win. They are in fourth position, but Perth Glory are quickly rising up the ladder and have a game in hand. Canberra United’s win also means the pressure is on Jeff Hopkins’ side to maintain their position, and if they can jump above Melbourne City, their chances of defending their title increase.
Aside from the first goal, Grove was in solid form between the posts for The Reds and it took a wonderful strike to level the scores.
Zimmerman was as close to the halfway line as she was to the goal when she struck a thunderbolt into the back of the Adelaide net. It was a stunning goal, and equal to any other scored this season. Victory were without the American striker for much of the campaign so far, and this was an example of the firepower that still remains even after Chidiac’s departure.
It would be the last goal of the game, although the home side continued to test Adelaide’s luck and composure. Elise Kellond-Knight set up goad for a good opportunity and then hit the woodwork with a well-hit effort, but to no avail. As the game neared the end, both managers made changes, Emilia Murray and Fiona Worts came on for Adelaide, while Tiff Eliadis and Lia Privitelli were introduced to good effect for Victory.
Privitelli’s impact was immediate and obvious. She has pace and tenacity few defenders can match, and Victory look a stronger side with her on the pitch. Victory almost snatched a late win, but Kayla Morrison’s close-range effort skidded wide in the dying seconds.
In the end, the draw does not really suit either side. Victory remain in fourth spot but lost the opportunity to gain ground on City who now have a game in hand over their local rivals.
Adelaide United remain in eighth spot. However, they did rediscover some of their attacking verve in this match. They took their chances when they came and their midfield competed evenly with Victory’s.
Although Victory had almost twice as many shots on goal as Adelaide, it was a fairly even game statistically elsewhere. Possession was split 49% to 51%, and there were only 18 passes separating the two sides.
It is still too early to determine what impact this will have on the end of the season. Neither side will be happy with the draw, although it was imperative that Victory did not lose. This game is likely to be remembered for the success of the Pride Round, and Catherine Zimmerman’s incredible goal.
Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY (4-3-3): Dumont, Nash, Bunge, Morrison, Tathem, Murphy, Jackson, Kellond-Knight, Zimmerman, Ayres, Goad. Substitutes: Eliadis, Zois, Privitelli, Templeman, Briedis.
Scorers: Ayres 6′, Zimmerman 71′.
ADELAIDE UNITED (4-3-3): Grove, Hayward, McCormick, Waldus, E. Hodgson, Westland, Sasaki, Holmes, Dawber, Barbieri, I Hodgson. Substitutes: Bowler, Tolland, Murray, Worts, Wilson.
Scorers: Westland 17′, Dawber 27′.
Referee: Rebecca Durcau