W-League League: Season 4 (2011 - 2012 Season)
By Zee Ko
'Taylor sinks the Jets'
(Zee Ko was pitch side in Geelong as Melbourne Victory gained an important three points against the Newcastle Jets in the W-League)
It was billed as an intriguing matchup between master and apprentice; Matildas number 1 Melissa Barbieri against her former understudy Brianna Davey. But instead, it was Victory captain Jodie Taylor who stole the show with a well-taken brace to lead the home team to a vital win.
Melbourne Victory were coming off a disappointing loss against Brisbane the previous weekend, but the visiting Newcastle Jets were lacking match practice after their match against Perth was rained out. 4th and 5th in the league table respectively, the mid table clash looked to be taking on added significance in the fight for the last playoff spot.
Brianna Davey replaced Cassandra Dimovski who had stood in for her against Brisbane, but the big news before kickoff was Newcastle's rising star Tara Andrews starting from the bench. Fans were still trickling into the stadium when Jodie Taylor sprang the offside trap and was through on goal in the 5th minute. Barbieri was equal to the task though, pulling off a fine block to deny Melbourne an early advantage.
Victory was looking the livelier of the two sides from the off as their attackers relentlessly exploited the gaps in the Newcastle defence. The pace of Ashley "Hash" Brown on the right flank was causing problems but it was Taylor's strike partner Caitlin Friend who found her with a delightful through ball 11 minutes in. Unfortunately, the lineswoman had flagged for offside and the away side were spared.
Only a minute later, Friend again found herself in possession and with space to run down the right side of the pitch. Bombing up the wing with a defender in close attendance, Friend made it to the byline before cutting the ball back sharply into the box. Barbieri was well beaten and Taylor finished with aplomb from point blank range, but the offside flag had gone up once again. It was a puzzling decision given that Friend had run into an advanced position with the ball with Taylor arriving late into the box, but the referee decided to chalk off the effort anyway.
It was to be a recurring theme throughout the match as the offside flag repeatedly went up on the near side. Frustration was starting to show and Amy Jackson was booked for kicking the ball away after an offside call in the 21st minute.
Taylor continued to flirt with the offside flag, while Friend was being repeatedly forced wide near the goal. Newcastle were starting to find their feet and it was a sign of things to come when Monnique Kofoed found space to shoot at goal, only to blaze her attempt high over the crossbar.
Melbourne failed to heed the warning signs though as Rebekah Stott failed to clear her lines in the 37th minute. Quick as a flash, Jets midfielder Nicola Bolger took a touch and then rammed the ball past Davey in goal as the Jets got on the scoreboard with their first shot on target.
Heads dropped as the goal went in, but credit to the home side as the girls were soon back on task. Katrina Gorry, who'd started just behind the two forwards in an advanced role, was switched to the right wing, while Brown moved into a more central position. The move paid immediate dividends as Gorry crossed the ball well for Taylor to knock home the equaliser. The former England youth international showed incredible composure on the ball, waiting for Barbieri to commit herself before slotting the ball past the Newcastle custodian.
The two teams went into the break with the scores level at 1 - 1, but with Melbourne on the ascendancy again following the timely equaliser.
The second half started as did the first, with Taylor, Friend and Jackson being ruled offside after failing to check their runs. Katrina Gorry was becoming increasingly influential in proceedings as the game wore on. Taylor finally managed to get in behind the defence in the 55th minute but stumbled. With defenders swarming around, she somehow managed to knock it back out of the box to a lurking Gorry, but the snapshot went high and wide.
On the other end of the pitch, Lisa De Vanna was looking threatening as she repeatedly ran at the Victory defence. Two penalty appeals in five minutes could have changed the face of the game, but it was not to be as first Danielle Johnson's hard sliding tackle in the box was judged legal before Maika Ruyter-Hooley's was lucky to get the benefit of the doubt for a desperate challenge on De Vanna after Davey had come flying out for a block and pandemonium ensued in the box.
It was game over though, when Jodie Taylor's persistence led to her second goal in the 65th minute. Chasing down Alexandre Hyunh on the edge of the Newcastle penalty box, Taylor's presence caused the Jets defender to make a hash of her attempted header back to the keeper. The Victory captain stole past and knocked the ball onto an onrushing Barbieri, before slotting home the rebound to win the tie for Victory. There were more chances for the home side to kill off the tie once and for all, but Kendall Fletcher and substitute Laura Spiranovic failed to take their chances.
While they could have been made to pay for their profligacy on another day, Brianna Davey was in inspired form, spectacularly sitting on the ball to save a goal after a close range shot in the 68th minute.
Newcastle threw caution to the wind as they chased the game, finally bringing on Tara Andrews in place of defender Hyunh in the 84th minute, but the final throw of the dice was to little avail.
There was one final chance a minute from time as De Vanna went clear on the left flank, but Stephanie Catley tracked back well for a tremendous covering tackle. As the Victory faithful watched on with hearts in their mouths, the whistle went and the home side erupted in joy, milking the applause from those who had braved the cold conditions to support the team.
Linton: Team showed great resilience
Melbourne Victory Head Coach Vicki Linton was effusive in her praise after seeing her side's come from behind win, claiming that the girls had been "really keen to come out and get a win" after the narrow loss to Brisbane.
"I think the girls showed great resilience, [and were] really unlucky not to score first," she said. "To then concede a goal and get back to one-all at halftime was really important. Then to finish off the game in the second half was fantastic."
Linton urged her team not to get carried away though, with a difficult trip to Perth coming up on the horizon. "There's a few things we can work on. Obviously we had a good time against Perth the first time round, but it's a tougher task now away from home," she cautioned. "They've improved all the way through so I expect it to be a tough game and we're gonna have to really perform well."
Player of the Match: Jodie Taylor The Melbourne Victory captain led by example with her match winning brace and could easily have scored a hatful more if it wasn't for a stingy offside flag.
Crowd Watch: Simonds Stadium was looking disappointingly bare, despite initial predictions of a big crowd. Plenty of support for local girl Laura Spiranovic when she was introduced, although there was perhaps not enough time to conjure up a popular goal.
Melbourne Victory Verdict:
Melbourne's pace on and off the ball was telling, as the Newcastle defenders struggled to cope with their marauding attackers. Brianna Davey won her personal duel hands down, but the team as a whole kept their shape well and managed to close out what could have been a tricky game. They are now looking good for a playoff berth and will fancy their chances.
Newcastle Jets Verdict:
Newcastle were hoping to steal an away victory at Simmonds Stadium, but seemed to show the home side too much respect, especially in the first half. Lisa De Vanna was excellent as usual, but seemed to be fighting a losing cause on her own for much of the match. Melissa Barbieri would have been disappointed not to get one over her former teammates in her first match against them.
Details: Westfied Womens League, Round 7:
Saturday 3 December, 2011
By Zee Ko, at Simonds Stadium, Geelong - 4 December, 2011 [Photos by Samantha Ackroyd]
Crafted lovingly by hand © Magic Llama 2000 - 2011