Western United stunned defending Champions Melbourne Victory with a 1-0 win to kick-off the A-League Women’s season on Saturday afternoon.
A healthy crowed packed into City Vista Recreation Reserve to see the defending Champions get their campaign underway against Western United who were playing first ever A-League Women’s game.
Victory had plenty of fresh blood in the starting XI, with Elise Kellond-Knight, Beattie Goad, Jessika Nash and Natalie Tathem all new recruits making their first starts.
Club captain Kayla Morrison also made her long awaited return from injury to reclaim her spot at the heart of defence.
The first half was a tight affair with clear-cut chances few and far between.
The conditions made it difficult for either side to control the ball for extended periods, although Victory looked more likely early on with a couple of long-range efforts.
Western worked their way into the contest through, creating an even match for the majority of the first half.
Regardless, neither side could find the breakthrough before half-time and they headed into the sheds locked at 0-0.
Victory again made a bright start following the break with Tiffany Eliadis played through on goal in the first minute, but she was unable to get a clean shot away.
Western responded soon after with the first significant moment of the match when Jessica McDonald opened the scoring in the 54th minute, despite a strong initial save from Casey Dumont.
The goal meant Victory had a mountain to climb if they were to start their Championship defence with a win.
Jeff Hopkins’ side responded impressively to the setback though, creating several high quality chances over the next few minutes.
Alex Chidiac came as close as anyone when she found herself one-on-one with Western goalkeeper Hillary Beall, managing to squeeze her shot past the keeper but unable to find the target.
Victory turned to their bench just after the hour mark, bringing on Amy Jackson and Emily Kos in search of a way back into the match.
Western though continued to prove tough to break down.
Victory became increasingly desperate and peppered Western’s defensive area with shots and crosses.
Ultimately, there was no way through as Western held on for their first ever A-League Women’s win.
A loss to start their Championship defence is far from ideal for Victory, although the squad will be confident they can improve and ultimately peak at the right end of the season.
Victory’s Championship defence begins in defeat and they will need a significant improvement in the coming weeks to get their campaign back on track.
Liberty A-League 2022/23 Round 1
Western United 1 (McDonald 54′)
Melbourne Victory 0
Victory’s start to the season does not get any easier next Saturday as they travel to Cromer Park to take on last season’s Premiers Sydney FC at 3:00pm on November 26th.