Despite a rainy afternoon, a capacity crowd filled the Home of the Matildas to witness Melbourne Victory kick off their 2023/24 Liberty A-Leagues campaign in Round One.
Adding to the excitement, returning Matildas player Lydia Williams was honoured with a pre-game Guard of Honour to celebrate her return to the Liberty A-Leagues.
The match began with a flurry of opportunities. Just five minutes in, Mackenzie Weinert made an impressive run down the right flank and delivered a tantalising cross, but Brisbane held firm as Rachel Lowe’s shot was blocked, and Kurea Okino’s effort was cleared off the line.
In the eighth minute, Weinert was at it again, expertly finishing a through ball, only to see her goal disallowed for offside. Despite the setback, we maintained dominance in possession throughout the first half.
Weinert continued to be a constant threat down the right wing, while Okino showcased her impressive work rate. The midfield trio of Lowe, Murphy, and Zois controlled the flow of the game, dictating the tempo.
The first half saw several close calls, Beattie Goad’s inswinging corner was narrowly put over the bar by Kurea Okino, and a beautiful cross from Alana Murphy resulted in Weinert heading just wide of the goal. Lydia Williams also made a crucial save to deny Holly Palmer’s close-range shot just before half-time.
The score remained deadlocked at 0-0 at the main break, despite our dominance in possession.
In a cruel blow, Brisbane delivered a sucker punch in the 49th minute. Against the run of play, Grace Kuilamu found the back of the net with a well-placed shot, putting Roar in the lead.
A controversial moment occurred in the 58th minute when Weinert appeared to score a fantastic goal, only for it to be disallowed for offside due to her position in the build-up, much to the displeasure of the crowd.
It was a pivotal moment that was made even more important 10 minutes later when Brisbane capitalised on a set piece, doubling their lead. Jenna McCormick heading home a crucial goal for the visitors.
Rallying in the closing moments, substitute Ava Briedis came so close with a long-range free kick. As the clock wound down, debutant Ella O’Grady managed to strike a late shot past the Brisbane keeper in the third minute of stoppage time, making it 1-2.
However, it was too little, too late for Jeff Hopkins’ side, and Brisbane took home all three points.
Our attention now shifts to next week’s match against Western United, aiming to bounce back from the narrow defeat and secure our first win of the season.