Melbourne Victory outlined their Westfield W-League title credentials with a thoroughly deserved 4-2 success over Canberra United at McKellar Park. The reigning champions inflicted a record home defeat on their hosts putting on a performance ladled with power and pace that left Canberra chasing the game for most of the ninety minutes.
There was a strangely subdued opening to the match with both team’s taking a cagey approach to the first quarter with neither side troubling the respective goalkeepers. Indeed it took until the 22nd minute for the first shot on target as Canberra midfielder Lori Lindsey stung the palms of Victory custodian Brianna Davey with a fierce drive from all of thirty metres. Davey was however comfortably behind the ball all the way and made a routine stop.
Both teams struggled to maintain possession for any lengthy period of time with the passing noticeably poor. When Victory did string together more than two passes in a row Christine Nairn delivered a peach of a cross which Rachael Quigley should have done better with rather than head tamely over the bar.
Nairn had an even greater impact seven minutes before the break as her quick-feet led to a rash challenge by Canberra centre-back Grace Field who tripped the influential Victory playmaker inside the area. US star Lauren Barnes was summoned from defensive duties to take the penalty and she duly dispatched the kick low and hard into the bottom corner to give Victory the lead.
It was to get better for the visitors just before the half-time interval as they went further ahead. Skipper Stephanie Catley was the scorer, getting a toe to a low cross to divert the ball towards goal and, despite Chantel Jones getting a hand on the shot, and the best efforts of the covering Nicole Begg to clear off the line, the ball trundled into the corner to leave Melbourne in the box-seat at the break.
Incredibly Melbourne went further ahead three minutes into the second half with a goal of pure simplicity and outstanding brilliance. A long ball cleared the Canberra defence allowing Lisa De Vanna to showcase her pace as she burst clear. There was still much to do but from 25m the Matildas’ star sent in a cracking lob that left Jones helpless.
Canberra pulled one back with half an hour remaining as Lindsey crashed home a free-kick from an improbable angle, arrowing her effort from out wide into the top corner past Davey. But that was as good as it got for the home team who promptly shipped another goal only nine minutes later.
This time it was Victory substitute Gema Simon who did the damage, proving too strong for Ellie Brush, bursting clear of the attempted challenge by the home centre-back and picking her spot to calmly slot the ball past the exposed Jones. There was still plenty of time to play and Canberra kept plugging away and reduced the deficit in the 80th minute.
Lindsey provided the service, whipping in a delightful corner that had the Victory defence at sixes and sevens. Michelle Heyman connected with a firm header at the far post that was cleared off the line, only for Caitlin Munoz to react fastest and lash the loose ball into the net from close range for her second goal of the season but Melbourne had already done enough to take the three points.
Canberra United 2 (Lori Lindsey 59’, Caitlin Munoz 80’)
Melbourne Victory 4 (Lauren Barnes 38’ (pen), Stephanie Catley 42’, Lisa De Vanna 48’, Gema Simon 68’)
Canberra United: 1. Chantel JONES, 5. Grace FIELD, 6. Caitlin MUNOZ, 7. Ellie BRUSH, 9. Grace GILL (3. Julia DE ANGELIS 69’), 11. Michelle HEYMAN, 12. Sally ROJAHN, 13. Nicole BEGG, 14. Ashleigh SYKES, 16. Lori LINDSEY, 22. Stephanie OCHS
Substitutes not used: 2. Catherine BROWN, 18. Rebecca KITING, 20. Melissa MAIZELS
Melbourne Victory: 1. Brianna DAVEY, 2. Hannah BREWER, 5. Lauren BARNES, 7. Stephanie CATLEY, 8. Amy JACKSON (17. Gulcan KOCA 75’), 9. Rachael QUIGLEY (6. Gema SIMON 62’, 10. Christine NAIRN, 11. Lisa DE VANNA, 12. Ella MASTRANTONIO, 15. Emma CHECKER, 18. Elli REED (16. Beatrice GOAD 89’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Cassandra DIMOVSKI
Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 6. Caitlin MUNOZ (Canberra United), 8. Amy JACKSON (Melbourne Victory)
Referee: Casey REIBELT