W-League League: Season 4 (2011 - 2012 Season)
By Zee Ko
'She Must Really Like Adelaide'
(Zee Ko ventured across the Mallee to see Caitlin 'friend' Adelaide)
There are certain players who like playing against certain teams for some reason. They seem to perk up for the occasion and will turn the match on its head with sublime pieces of skill they've kept hidden the rest of the season.
For Melbourne Victory Women's Caitlin Friend, there can only be one such team. With six out of seven of her career goals coming against Adelaide, the stage was set for another masterclass in finishing. Oh how her eyes must sparkle when the Lady Reds come up on the fixture list, and such was the case in the corresponding fixture earlier this season, when an on-fire Friend slammed three goals into the back of the net, becoming the first Victory Women's player to score a hattrick in the process.
This time round, the Victory markswoman had to settle for a solitary goal, albeit quite a special one. As the clock ticked down to the halftime break, Friend broke free on the left flank and floated the ball into the Adelaide box. As Adelaide goalkeeper Sian McLaren and a crowd of other players went up for the ball, the wind picked it up in mid-flight before depositing it into the net. Cue shrieks of delight as Victory went 3-1 up against the home team.
But once again, it was so much more than individual effort for the girls in blue. Katrina Gorry was instrumental on her return from suspension, while young guns Ashley Brown and Rebekah Stott also impressed. With their Finals place booked, Melbourne Victory were expected to make light work of the bottom team in the W-League and canter home comfortably. However, it appeared Adelaide might have forgotten to read the script as things failed to go as planned at the start.
The visitors had been dominating the opening proceedings, but were unusually profligate with their chances. Adelaide had their chances too, most notably with Marijana Rajcic's header being cleared off the line in the nick of time by Amy Jackson. Melbourne Victory failed to heed the warning signs however, and soon fell behind to a shock opener as Rajcic planted a strong header into the net a minute later.
From then on, it was all Victory though as the visitors laid siege to the Adelaide goal. Gorry was proving hard to handle with her clever running between the lines, and when captain Jodie Taylor played her through on 31 minutes, she made no mistake with an effort that went under McLaren and into goal for the equaliser.
Tricky winger Ashley Brown has been a revelation for Victory this season, but had up to this point failed to find the net. "We actually talked about that today, I asked her when she was going to score," Victory Head Coach Vicki Linton revealed. "Maybe I needed to do that sooner." Sure enough, Brown opened her account in style, running onto a through ball and beating her marker before chipping the goalkeeper from an angle. 2-1 to Melbourne and the team weren't going to let their lead slip away unlike their previous two matches.
Friend soon made it a two-goal buffer with her fluke goal before Victory sat back to absorb the pressure and conserve some energy in the heat. Georgia Macri and Rachael Quigley came close in a spell of dominance for the hosts in the second half but it all came to naught as Brianna Davey proved unbeatable in goal. Finally, Kendall Fletcher made the points secure as she rammed home a rebound from her own effort late in injury time.
Linton: Canberra beatable
Melbourne Victory Women's Head Coach Vicki Linton was fairly happy with the effort shown by her charges, given the conditions on the day.
"We knew it was always going to be tough when we came off the bye last week," she said. "To be honest the conditions out there, with the wind and the ground, weren't easy and Adelaide were competitive all game. I'm pleased that the players went down from a 1-0 deficit to them winning 4-1."
Linton also reserved special place for attacking midfielder Katrina Gorry, admitting that it couldn't have been missing out on the last game due to suspension.
"To stay motivated and focussed during that time, and use that to come out and play so well today, that's great for her and great for the team," Linton revealed. "She was probably unlucky not to get another one or two goals in there, but her contribution and her work rate, to me that's what we judge our players on."
Looking forward to an away Final against league leaders Canberra United, the Victory Head Coach expressed a belief that her team could yet pull off a shock result.
"We played them a couple of weeks ago and probably could have beaten them," she explained. "I think the playing group has the belief in them that Canberra is beatable. Canberra have gone through undefeated so we've got nothing to lose, they've got a lot to lose, so I suppose that's going to be our mentality. We'll be looking forward to the challenge."
Player of the Match: Katrina Gorry
The former Adelaide United player is an integral piece of the Victory midfield and once again proved her game-winning ability with a performance full of flair and running. The home team found it hard to pick up her runs and 'Mini' had an almost free rein roaming in behind the strikers.
Adelaide United Verdict:
The Lady Reds were not expected to prove much of a challenge for a rampant Victory side, and though they will end up with the wooden spoon this season, the future looks bright. There are plenty of promising young players in the side, including the likes of 15-year-old defender Emma Checker, and will only get better next season.
Melbourne Victory Verdict:
It has been all about making Finals this season and with that target achieved, the Girls in Blue will be looking to make it all the way. Canberra may have been unbeaten this season, but the minor premiers will not take their place in the Grand Final for granted. Melbourne were very close to snatching a home win last time out and will be quietly confident of matching up to their foes once again.
The home fans were out in droves on a warm summer day in Adelaide. Burton Park offers quite a unique atmosphere with spectators being allowed to surround the pitch at close quarters, but it did make for a somewhat testy time for the referee as irate fathers disputed offside calls throughout the 90 minutes.
Things got off to a rocky start pitch side as this writer was berated and forced to take off my photographer's bib. The reasoning might have been just, but being told by said match official (who shall remain nameless) that the bib 'did not match my eyes' was just tasteless. Things got even uglier when I refused to acknowledge the insult (which was repeated at least two more times) and my companion was told to 'explain it to him, because he doesn't understand'.
Details: Westfield Womens League, Round 12:
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Teresa Polias 33 (og)) - Sydney FC 0
Match report and photos by Zee Ko, at Burton Park (Salisbury, SA), Sunday 15 January, 2012
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