A stunning MelindaJ Barbieri strike ultimately wasn’t enough for Melbourne Victory to avoid a 2-1 defeat in the Westfield W-League Big Blue against Sydney FC at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Gulcan Koca came into the starting XI in place of Jamie Pollock, who dropped out of the squad.
The home side came out with confidence and went close to breaking the game open from the outset.
English recruit Natasha Dowie almost became the beneficiary of a deft touch from Enza Barilla, but the quick-moving ball evaded her.
Melbourne soon found itself a goal behind, largely thanks to a delightful Amy Harrison cross from the left flank, which penetrated the Victory backline. Leena Khamis was on hand to poke home for the visitors.
Hayley Raso went close to levelling the ledger with an effort at the near post that flew into the side-netting.
Melissa Barbieri was at her absolute finest in a five-minute block that saw her thwart Nicola Bolger, before getting down low to keep out Harrison’s well-timed shot.
She was left with little to no chance when Sydney launched its next attack. Harrison’s pinpoint delivery was met by Jasmyne Spencer, who snuck in at the back post to slip the ball in.
Victory appeared to be rejuvenated by the half-time interval and wasted no time getting itself back into the match. It was MelindaJ Barbieri who obliged, darting past her marker before driving the ball into the net.
One nearly became two as a result of a perfectly timed Christine Nairn pass, which set Dowie free. Her fierce attempt forced the Sydney custodian into an excellent parry at the near post.
Victory finished with a flurry and went closest to equalising through Raso in the final 20 minutes. Her delicate first touch served her well both times – her first shot flashing wide of the right upright, before a skidding effort drew a save from the Sky Blues’ number one.
Melbourne will be looking for another promising performance when it faces the Jets at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Melbourne Victory 1 (Barbieri 47′)
Sydney FC 2 (Khamis 11′, Spencer 22′)