Melbourne Victory won the first derby of the season with a 2-1 result against a persistent and unlucky Melbourne City.
It was anticipated to be the match of the round, but the first half had more injury stoppages than shots on target.
City had the best of the early stages of the game. Hannah Wilkinson got goal side of Claudia Bunge but dragged her shot wide. The New Zealand striker found space from a defensive clearance but her attempted chip over Casey Dumont was miss hit. Courtney Nevin had Victory’s first shot but it skimmed wide without troubling Melissa Barbieri.
On the stroke of half time, City took the lead. Tyla-Jay Vlajnic sent a dangerous free kick into the box and Amy Jackson headed the ball into her own net after stealing in front of Dumont. It was the first significant error by either team, and it was a costly one.
Wilkinson continues to test the Victory and with City in control of the match, Jeff Hopkins brought on his not so secret weapon, U.S International, Lynn Williams.
It was another American who levelled the scores though, Zimmerman finished well after Alex Chidiac burst through midfield to play her into space with only the keeper to beat.
Victory took the lead on the 69th minute, Williams announced her debut with a goal. After putting Australia to the sword a fortnight ago she continued her form getting on the end of a Polly Doran cross from close range.
Amy Jackson received a red card on the 89th minute, she lunged and chopped down a goal bound Holly Mcnamara after Victory were again out-ran at the back.
City pushed for an equalizer as Victory flooded back behind the ball to hold on as the clocked ticked down. The home side could not break down the 11 player defense in the end and Melbourne Victory won their second game in a row to start the season.
COONEY-CROSS MOVED TO DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD
At her best Kyra Cooney-Cross is a box-to-box midfielder. She uses her pace and control to surge into attack with the ball at her feet and unlock defences. In Melbourne Victory’s re-shuffle following Kaya Morrison’s knee injury, she started in the number six role.
She has played this role to some acclaim for The Matildas, but it is a position relatively new to her.
It seems to be role that works best if she is on the dominant side. Her passing range and competitive nature grant her the ability to direct play from deep. However if the opposition has control, or her team is rushed on the ball, she can be isolated and stranded in the middle of the park.
Melbourne Victory were hurried in defence. Many clearances were kicked long or sent directly out to touch. The A-League Women’s most dynamic midfielder was left watching it sail over her head.
If Kyra Cooney-Cross as a deep midfielder is to work, Victory need to find some composure to bring her into the game. She was more involved in the second half as her teammates passed more confidently and Victory’s fortunes started to turn.
So far, despite being still 19 years old, she has built a reputation in two positions already. A third is not beyond her talents but it remains a work in progress.
HANNAH WILKINSON WILL TROUBLE MOST SIDES THIS SEASON
City’s new centre forward may not have found the net so far, but her mobility, height and pace have caused Melbourne Victory and Canberra United problems in the first two rounds.
She was denied in week one by some sensational goalkeeping my Keeley Richards and would have been disappointed not to score in the opening half this week.
Her ability an experience in the position is exactly what City were missing last season. She is a target and can hold up the ball but can also run onto a long ball. Twice in the first half she found herself cruising past Amy Jackson and Claudia Bunge. Only poor finishing spared Victory, but those goals will come. She looks like a difficult match up for any team.
KAYLA MORRISON IS IRREPLACABLE
It is a cliché that attack win’s game and defence wins championships but that does not make it any less true. Last season’s run to the premiership for Melbourne Victory was build on a stubborn, organized back four. They initially looked to have maintained that quality or perhaps improved on it for this season, but everything has changed with Kayla Morrison out for the season.
Jeff Hopkins solution, at least for this week was to shift Amy Jackson to centre back and keep Courtney Nevin wide. The combination of Jackson and Claudia Bunge were exposed by City’s pacy attack. Holly Mcnamara and Hannah Wilkinson found plenty of space behind the pairing.
Victory may have to rely on outscoring their opposition and they have the weapons to do so, but is a much risker proposition than last season.
Against other teams with fast attackers such as Perth Glory and Sydney FC, Victory will find it even more difficulty defensively than they did today.
A-League Women, Round 2: AAMI Park
Melbourne City 1 Amy Jackson (o.g 45m)
Melbourne Victory 2 Catherine Zimmerman (65m) Lynn Williams (70m)