Liberty A-League preview: Phoenix v Victory

Match details

Wellington Phoenix v Melbourne Victory
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Friday, February 4, 2022
Kick-off: 6.35pm AEDT


Melbourne Victory resumes the Liberty A-League season with a trip to Wollongong to face the Wellington Phoenix on Friday.

Victory has played just twice since the start of the year due to COVID-19.

A second-half penalty from Maja Markovski was enough for Victory to get past the Western Sydney Wanderers 1-0 last time out – on January 16.

Markovski’s goal was her second of the season and helped Victory bounce back following two consecutive losses.

Importantly, it was also Victory’s first clean sheet of the campaign, and the Wanderers were limited to few chances of note.

Victory faces Wellington in the Liberty A-League for the first time after the Phoenix entered the competition this season.

After its COVID-enforced break, Victory (12 points) sits fifth on the table, although has two games in hand on Sydney FC (22), City (18), Adelaide United (15) and Perth Glory (14).

Victory also welcomes back Commonwealth Bank Matilda Courtney Nevin from the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, while Kyra Cooney-Cross is serving a one-match ban for the red card she received against Brisbane Roar on January 2.

A busy run of games are ahead for Victory after recent postponements as it looks to kick-start its season.

Player in focus

Casey Dumont was largely untroubled against the Wanderers, but the goalkeeper still did what was required to keep a first clean sheet of the season.

What they said – Hopkins

on the squad…
“We’re desperate to play. We’ve been training really well, the quality of the training has been excellent, but obviously nothing to play for at the end of the week has been a bit disappointing for us. We played an intraclub in-house game last weekend, which was really good, good quality, we got to set our opponent up, playing the way that we expect Wellington to this week so it was a good practice match for us and it was just good to be playing a game on the weekend. I expect a good performance out of the players due to the fact that they’ve been training really well and they’re all very, very hungry to start playing again. I think everyone that was available for the win at Western Sydney is available again, plus Harriet (Withers) and Courtney coming back as well. Unfortunately, Kyra is suspended so she’ll be out this week, but again she’ll be a great addition for us to add to the squad. I’m really looking forward to the game, I think the players are definitely looking forward to it and just can’t wait to get out there to be honest.”

on fitness…
“Our fitness is good. Maybe a little bit of match sharpness just might take 15, 20 minutes or so to get that back, but the overall fitness is great. We’ve been working the players extremely hard over the time they haven’t been playing, been pushing them really hard and they’ve responded really well to that. I don’t see that as a problem and it’s just more a matter of just that match sharpness, which normally if teams haven’t played for a while you get that back pretty quickly and, again, we’re going to have plenty of opportunity to get that back over the next three weeks as we’re playing kind of back-to-back games. It’s going to be a tough time, it’s going to be play, recover, play, recover for the next three weeks now.”

on Melina Ayres…
“She’s not far away from joining the group. When we travel away, she’ll be hopefully ticking off her last few bits of high-speed running this week and if she comes through that over the weekend she should be back joining in a little bit more with the group next week. But we’re not putting any timelines on it at the moment, day to day she ticks off one day, we move on to the next thing and we keep going until she’s ready to play basically and it’ll be as long as it takes. Hopefully in the next few weeks though we’ll be seeing her especially on the training field in the next week we’ll be seeing a lot more of her and then we’ll just see how quickly she progresses from there.”