Hopkins: We never stopped believing


Melbourne Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins praised his team’s spirit after its stunning 2-1 Derby win over City on Sunday.

Victory had to come from behind at Epping Stadium after a Laura Alleway own goal just after the hour-mark.

It did so thanks to another screamer from Melina Ayres and Christina Gibbons’ dramatic 86th-minute winner.

Hopkins said his team was finding the belief it needed.

“I think if you look at the whole of the game, the way that we approached the game, we were very positive, we had a game plan,” he said.

“I’ve got to give credit to the spirit of the players most probably. You go 1-0 behind against a very, very good side and we didn’t stop believing.

“That’s what we’ve talked about over the last few weeks, self-belief, after last season it’s taken a bit of time to get there but we talked about it all week, all last week as well, we need to believe in ourselves a little bit more.

“That was a real test for us, going 1-0 down against City, a team that can not only dominate games but can dominate possession so it was going to be hard for us.

“But credit to the sprit of the players, they didn’t give up, they stuck to the game plan and kept going.”

Ayres, 18, produced another moment of magic, her 35-yard stunner helping Victory back into the game.

Hopkins praised the teenage attacker, saying Ayres was among those believing more in her abilities.

“I love working with her. She wants to learn, she wants to get better,” he said.

“I’m not sure if the wide position is her best position but at the moment she’s prepared to play there and do a job for the team.

“She’s one of the ones most probably that maybe hasn’t got the same belief playing in the W-League about her ability as she does in the WNPL.

“Again, the last couple of weeks we’ve said to her, ‘Back yourself, have a go’ and last week you saw what happened there and another fantastic goal again this week for us.”