Melbourne Victory faces a short turnaround as it prepares to host the Newcastle Jets in the Westfield W-League on Thursday.
Victory played out a 0-0 draw with Adelaide United in its season opener on Sunday, and backs up quickly for Round 2 at Lakeside Stadium.
MelindaJ Barbieri went closest to finding a winner for Victory against the Reds, hitting the post in the second half.
However, there were plenty of good signs as Victory earned its point in Round 1.
A new-look central midfield of Christine Nairn, Dani Weatherholt and Grace Maher impressed, while wingers Melina Ayres and Emily Gielnik were lively.
Only a goal was missing for Victory, which dominated most of the encounter against the Reds.
Kyra Cooney-Cross is set to be available for Victory after returning from Westfield Young Matildas duty, the teenage attacker having scored four times in three games at the AFC U-19 Women’s Championship qualifying tournament.
Victory turns its attentions to a meeting with the Jets, who had a bye in the opening round.
It has a strong record against Newcastle, winning nine and losing just four of the previous 15 meetings between the clubs.
Head coach Jeff Hopkins’ pre-match thoughts
on the team’s recovery and the short turnaround…
“We had everyone in at AAMI Park on Monday in the recovery centre – no knocks, no injuries so we came through the game pretty well so really pleased in that regard. I think with the work we’ve put in, their bodies are a bit more resilient as well, with an extra little bit of fitness and strength they handle the games a little bit easier. In that regard, we’re pretty happy. We had a look at a few things about the game in our review and there were a lot of positives to come out of it. We weren’t quite where we wanted to be, but we’re not too far away so I think every game that we play, we’re going to take steps forward and it’s probably the view from the staff and the players. We’ve got a pretty positive outlook for the game coming up on Thursday.”
on improving finishing…
“We did just look a little bit on edge, that first game, the first real game that we’ve had with everyone playing together as well. The other thing is, the first game you come in and you don’t really know exactly how the opposition is going to play, you don’t get to see them before so you kind of feel a little bit apprehensive that they could throw something in that could be new and it could take us a little bit of time to adjust and it most probably did at the beginning. We didn’t expect them to play a 4-4-2 and by the time we adapted and adjusted and found the players we wanted to find in different ways, it took us 15-20 minutes to get into it. But in general, a lot of the stuff we’ve been working on in pre-season came off. We created a huge amount of chances. I’m confident and the girls are as well that if we keep playing that way and keep creating half as many chances, we’ll finish our fair share as the season goes on.”
on the midfield mix…
“Obviously with Christine’s passing range, we want to try and get the ball to her as often as possible. Dani’s fitted in really well, she’s done great and we played her in a couple of positions when Grace had to come off, Dani just slotted into her position and Mindy jumped into Dani’s. They tried really hard to stop Grace getting on the ball, she’s a very smart player, she’s intelligent, she did all the right things to get on the ball and I was really happy with all three of them to be honest.”
on Cooney-Cross’ possible return…
“She’s back in the country now. We’ll bring her into the squad. It’s a full squad to choose from now, which is good, no injuries from the weekend and we’ll bring our little one back in as well. She’ll come back full of confidence and I guess it’s now down to her to fight her way back into the squad first of all and then into the starting line-up. I hope I get a really good positive player coming back from there with an attitude that she’s going to push really hard to get herself back in the side.”
Westfield W-League 2017/18 Round 9
Melbourne Victory 1-3 Newcastle Jets
Friday, December 29, 2017
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Victory went down to the Jets in the only meeting between the teams last season.
Cooney-Cross had cancelled out Tori Huster’s opener, but a Katie Stengel penalty and Hannah Brewer goal saw the Jets to their win.
As it stands
Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets
Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne
Thursday, November 1, 2018
Kick-off: 7.30pm AEDT