W-League League: Season 5 (2012 - 2013 Season)
By Zee Ko
'The Difficult Job That Just Got Harder'
(Zee Ko was pitch side at The Veneto Club, Bulleen)
If Melbourne Victory coach Mike Mulvey's job wasn't already difficult enough, it just got harder as the team lost two key players for the season during a narrow 0-1 loss at home to Brisbane Roar.
A 17th minute Vedrana Popovic free kick was enough to settle the contest, as Brisbane picked up their first win of the season after a first round stalemate in Canberra.
Second half injuries to Louisa Bisby and Ashley Brown detracted from an evenly fought game though, with the latter player having to be stretchered off in obvious distress.
Victory had opted to field both international signings for the first time this season, with the returning Danielle Johnson slotting in at right back and fellow American striker Jessica McDonald leading the line. However, it was the exclusion of Brown and Emily Gielnik that had most tongues wagging as they appeared on their respective benches.
The home team started brightly, choosing to play a patient passing game from the back but they seemed to be lacking ideas going forward and failed to find any decent penetration in the opening stages. Victory's Stephanie Catley was having some success running at defenders on the left wing, but Gulcan Koca seemed to be having problems on the opposite flank.
It was Tameka Butt who fashioned the first real chance for the visitors, with her chip shot from the edge of the box just sailing over Brianna Davey's crossbar.
Two minutes later, the Roar were ahead.
Amy Jackson conceded a clumsy foul on the edge of the area and up stepped Popovic to expertly float the ball over an out-of-position Davey and into the top right hand corner of the net.
Victory's midfield triumvirate of Enza Barilla, Tiffany Eliadis and Jackson were struggling to find their bearings in the middle of the park, as Katrina Gorry and the rest of the Brisbane midfielders blocked off all avenues.
Matters weren't helped by Rebekah Stott's dodgy distribution from the back as she gave up possession needlessly time and again with errant passes.
No such trouble for Brisbane skipper Clare Polkinghorne though, as she managed to win the ball in central defence before driving through the mass of bodies and shooting straight at Davey.
McDonald was having to come deep to get touches on the ball, with Jackson even surging past her on the break at times though nothing was coming off.
Victory captain Louisa Bisby had the first decent chance for her team five minutes before the break, sending a fizzing 25-yard effort just wide of the post.
Mulvey had seen enough at half time, throwing on Brown for the ineffective Eliadis as Victory started to create more chances.
Alas, whether it was jet lag or a lack of composure, McDonald failed to convert when it mattered most.
A marvellous step over move from Catley released McDonald, but with Brisbane custodian Hiroshima Kishi committing herself early, Victory's newest signing failed to angle her body properly and scuffed the shot.
She could only watch on in agony, head in her hands, as the weak shot grazed the outside of the far post before trickling out of bounds.
Substitute Emily Gielnik almost doubled Brisbane's advantage but fired wide as Bisby limped off with a knee complaint that was quickly strapped and iced on the Victory bench.
But worst was to come as Brown's studs caught on the synthetic turf as she slid in for a challenge and she crumpled to the turf in agony.
Brisbane weren't exactly threatening much at this point, but to be fair their job was almost done as their defence held firm in the face of some desperate Victory attacks.
The win lifts Brisbane up to fourth place in the table, while Victory stay rooted near the bottom of the table on zero points.
Medical scans the next day revealed that both Louisa Bisby and Ashley Brown had suffered season-ending anterior cruciate ligament ruptures, leaving the Melbourne Victory team dangerously short.
The season's barely begun, but a difficult job just got much harder.
Player of the Match: Katrina Gorry
It was a fruitful trip back to her former club for 'Mini' Gorry as she demonstrated the form that earned her a Matildas call up last season. Sitting deep in midfield, the Queenslander put in an all-action display and showed off an impressive range of passes to dictate play for most of the match. Mulvey would have been aware that his replacements this season have so far failed to show the same kind of verve or skill.
Melbourne Victory Verdict:
Victory's finals run last season was built on the platform on never losing at home, but this new outfit is a long way from even thinking about that. A disrupted pre-season and a new coach being appointed only a week out from the first game cannot have helped matters, but Brown and Bisby's injuries will have severely weakened their attacking options. The youngsters like Tiffany Eliadis and Cindy Lay will have to step up fast and fill those spots well. No easy task in their debut seasons, it has to be pointed out.
Brisbane Roar Verdict:
One goal in two games is a little worrying, but there's enough talent in the squad for them to win games, especially if they continue to keep clean sheets down the other end. Emily Gielnik will need to find her scoring touch again, after an impressive run as a super sub last season, while Gorry's return home looks to have been Brisbane's gain. In the backline, Hoshima Kishi is proving a valuable substitute for injured custodian Casey Dumont, while Clare Polkinghorne was her usual unflustered self in the middle of defence.
A sleepy crowd turnout for a 4pm kickoff at the Veneto Club, a far cry from the packed house we saw for the last home game of the season earlier this year against Canberra. Some early chanting from behind the goals that quickly petered out as the crowd stressed over Brown's horror injury. This young Victory side will need plenty of support if they are to go from strength to strength this season, but a trip to the cavernous Simmonds Stadium in Geelong next week won't exactly help matters.
Details: Westfied Womens League, Round 2:
Sydney FC 1 (Emma Kete 29) - Western Sydney Wanderers FC 0
By Zee Ko, at The Veneto Club, Bulleen - Sat 27 October, 2012 [Photos by Zee Ko]
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