Victory Women suffer Roar loss

Melbourne Victory’s bid to secure a Westfield W-League semi-final berth may not be resolved until the final round following the team’s 3-1 loss to Queensland Roar at Bob Jane Stadium on Saturday.

Melbourne Victory’s bid to secure a Westfield W-League semi-final berth may not be resolved until the final round following the team’s 3-1 loss to Queensland Roar at Bob Jane Stadium on Saturday.

Roar clinched the Premiership with Saturday’s win and they’re now guaranteed a home semi-final.

Early goals to Courtney Beutel and stand-in skipper Alicia Ferguson gave the title favourites an ideal start to the match contested on a greasy pitch lashed by steady rain and swirling winds.

Victory managed to pull a goal back through Brittany Timko midway through the first half before Tameka Butt’s blast in the 54th minute made the result safe for the Roar.

Beutel got the visitors on the board in the 10th minute with a well-executed lob over Victory keeper, Melissa Barbieri.

Chasing a hopeful through ball which Victory defender Maika Ruyter-Hooley failed to clear, Beutel was able to place the ball perfectly inside the right hand post while under pressure from two defenders.

Timko squandered an opportunity to reply for the hosts within a minute when she overran a ball crossed low and hard into her path with only keeper Casey Dumont to beat.

It was the Queenslanders who were creating the better chances however, and they should have gone two-up when Lana Harch from deep on the right picked out Beutel just five metres out unmarked and with the goal at her mercy.

The ball bounced awkwardly for Beutel who tried to guide it into the net with her thigh but only succeeded in pushing it just wide of the left-hand post.

After missing from point blank, Roar doubled their lead with an unlikely effort from all of 35 metres – a blasted free kick from Ferguson that somehow managed to make it through a sea of bodies towards Barbieri.

The keeper seemed to have the waist-high shot covered but fumbled and the ball toppled in slow motion over the line.

The hosts were back in the contest four minutes later when the lively Timko intercepted a back pass, rounded the keeper and finished coolly from a tight angle, but they had Barbieri to thank for keeping them in it when she twice denied Harch in the lead-up to half-time.

Victory needed to make things happen in the second half, but the win they were chasing was put beyond reach by Butt’s blast nine minutes into the second half.

Collecting a chip from Harch at the top of the box, Butt turned her marker, Daniela Digiammarco, and curled the ball into the top corner of the net beyond a diving Barbieri to make it 3-1.

Thereafter, the Roar were content to control the tempo and keep it tight.

Victory coach Matt Shepherd was unhappy with various aspects of his team’s defending, but refused to hold Barbieri responsible for the Roar’s crucial second goal.

“I think it was more a case of a good shot on goal and she couldn’t quite get behind it and I think it might have moved through the air,” Shepherd said.

“‘Barbs’ has been the backbone of our team this year really at the back and organised and made great saves, made three penalty saves, so there’s no complaints at all – she’s been great.”

Melbourne went into Round 8 in second place on the Westfield W-League table on 12 points – six behind Queensland but only one point clear of third-placed Sydney and two ahead of Newcastle.

Canberra and Central Coast were sitting just outside the top four on nine points apiece.

Shepherd believes his players have the resilience to bounce back in Canberra next week and away to Central Coast in the last round, and said they appreciate they have their finals fate in their own hands.

He said the Victory will need a tactical rethink, however, after letting themselves down on Saturday.

“We didn’t really get a lot of crosses in, so we couldn’t really test the keeper out as much as we would have liked,” Shepherd said.

“Last week (against Newcastle) we actually got close to 20 crosses in over the course of the game and today I think we were probably in single digits so, just not enough production.”