Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins praised his team’s adaptability after it recorded a fourth straight win by beating the Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1.
Goals from Natasha Dowie and Christine Nairn helped Victory extend its lead atop the Westfield W-League with a win at Latrobe City Stadium on Sunday.
After a dominant first half, Victory was forced to battle late on, Kylie Ledbrook having halved the deficit with a strike from distance.
Hopkins’ team has shown an ability to play in several different ways already this season – and it did so again in Round 5 – and the head coach was happy with his side’s performance.
“It is very pleasing. We knew the game was going to be a real tough game and we kind of spoke about trying to make it a good footballing game, but if it turned into a bit of a scrap, a bit of a battle, we needed to make sure that we were prepared to do whatever it took to win the game, in whichever way we had to do it,” he said.
“There was some really good football played, but also we had to roll our sleeves up and do it a little bit ugly at times as well.
“It’s really pleasing that we’ve got a good balance in our team of players that can all play and really when it comes to looking at the opposition and working hard and tackling and recovery runs, we can do that as well.”
Emily Gielnik played a major role in both Dowie’s fifth goal of the campaign – and Nairn’s first – as Victory took control.
— Victory W-League (@victorywleague) December 2, 2018
Hopkins was pleased to see his team dominate early, and close out a fourth consecutive win.
“I thought the first half, we played really good football. We opened them up quite well, played through the lines, getting the ball into the players in the middle and front third and the penetration was excellent,” he said.
“We got in behind the last line in the wide areas, in the central areas as well, we were just a little bit wasteful with some of our chances. I was happy to go in at two up and most probably deserved it. I felt our back four and the goalkeeper handled their front players pretty well in the first half, the midfield was performing well, it was a really good performance in the first half.
“Toward the end of the half, we most probably played a little bit too direct and we became a little bit predictable, let them back into the game a little bit but we kind of hope that we addressed that.
“I thought that although we didn’t play as well in the second half, for the first 20 minutes, from my recollection, we were still quite comfortable and in charge of the game and really we needed to go on and maybe get the third goal to kill the game off.
“They’re a good side and for a team that is in their position, they never gave up, they kept coming at us and they got back into the game and obviously the last 20 minutes or so were very difficult for us, but credit to the way the team stuck together and worked hard and I thought Laura Alleway and Sam Johnson were excellent, both our full-backs (Annabel Martin and Teigen Allen) and Casey (Dumont), when called upon, were good as well. It’s good that we had to call on them a little bit this week and they responded very well.”