Hopkins pleased with reaction but rues slow start

Catherine Zimmerman

Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins was pleased with his side’s reaction in the Derby, but lamented a slow start in the 3-2 loss to City.

Victory found itself 2-0 behind after 25 minutes following an Alex Chidiac strike and Claudia Bunge own goal at Epping Stadium on Sunday.

But it produced a fantastic response and MelindaJ Barbieri and Catherine Zimmerman scored superb goals to bring Victory level, and it looked the more likely winner.

However, Harriet Withers scored an 86th-minute winner for City, giving it three points.

Hopkins had mixed feelings following the result, which came a week after Victory thrashed City 6-0.

“You’ve got to give their team a fair bit of credit for the way they came out in the first half. They really competed, you could see they were hurt from last week, but give them credit, showed some real professional pride,” he said.

“We probably didn’t compete as well as we did last week and I think that was the difference in the first half. We were just a tad off but that was enough against a really motivated side and we had to wait until half-time, until we were 2-0 down, most probably the 10 or 15 minutes leading into half-time we were a lot better.

“Young Kyra Cooney-Cross had a lot to do with that as well. She really rolled her sleeves up and just started to up the tempo, with the ball and without the ball, and kind of got a few of the players going. I think we had a good spell leading into half-time.

“We regrouped at half-time and we just talked about three things and we went out there and we focused on those three things and it was very, very good. You could see right from the start of the second half the intensity was there, the intent was there of how we wanted to do things and I thought we caused them all sorts of problems early on in that second half, the first half-hour.

“Unfortunately, we did expend a lot of energy and we did take a lot of chances not just to get back into the game but to try and go and win it and in the end we had a little bit to do with our own downfall and we got caught on the break.

“The really pleasing thing for me was just the way that we reacted and we just kept going. Similar to last week, we scored those two goals in injury time and we could easily have done the same today. We could easily have equalised or even gone on and won the game in the last few minutes, really pleased with that, but not to start doing it until we were 2-0 down was the disappointing thing and the players know that. They know that if we had started that way the game would have turned out different for them.”

Lisa De Vanna missed the clash, with Victory unwilling to risk the star forward due to a minor hamstring injury.

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