Hopkins: “It was important we sent a message to the competition this week” 

Melbourne Victory Head Coach Jeff Hopkins has lauded his side’s performance during Monday’s Melbourne Derby, saying it was his side’s turn to make a statement in the league as they look to maintain their gap to the chasing pack for the remaining Finals spots. 

“That was a massive win for us, especially in a Derby game,” Hopkins said. 

“Looking at the weekend of results, all the sides looked to have stumbled and we didn’t do the same. There have been plenty of teams sending messages in the last few weeks and I think that this week, we sent ours and we’ve shown that we’re not ready to be run down by anyone. 

Victory turned in a vintage performance that saw Hopkins side look comfortable throughout the match and the Head Coach said he was pleased to see everything that was worked on the training pitch throughout the week come into fruition despite the slow start. 

“We weren’t happy with the way we started off the game but as it gradually went on and we got that penalty, we got into the game and from there we took control,” he said. 

“We had a good talk at half time and the girls were positive, we talked about going back out there and not giving them anything. We were really strong at the back, Casey was excellent in the second half and the midfield worked much better. 

“There’s definitely things we can do better in term of our quality on the ball but I can’t really fault the way we managed the game in the second half.” 

After a week that saw his side depleted by injury and squad members away with international duty, it was an unlikely hero in Paige Zois that found the back of the next with a wonderful strike and Hopkins lauded the midfielder-turn-right back’s performance. 

“We spoke to Paige and the first conversation was for her to be prepared to play at fullback and pretty quickly, the conversation turned again to her definitely playing fullback,” he said. 

“Like earlier in the season when we asked her to play on the wing, Paige’s response was positive and she said she wanted to play anywhere. She came in and did a really good job tonight. 

“It’s a reward for he patience this season, she’s been in and out of the side and been unlucky not to play more this year but that was a hell of a strike so I’m really pleased for her.” 

With a match up against Canberra next week at McKellar Park, the A-League Women’s squad will be looking to head to the nation’s capital with plenty of confidence to put further distance from the chasing pack in the league.