Victory’s perfect start to W-League

Victory has made the perfect start to its W-League season, defeating Canberra United 2-1 at Epping Stadium on Saturday.

Kristen McNabb and Natasha Dowie were the scorers, the latter’s goal on 64 minutes proving the game winner.

Victory started brightly, opening the scoring in the fifth minute from a corner, through American Kristen McNabb.

Delivered by Angela Beard, the inswinger sat up perfectly near the penalty spot and McNabb rose higher than the pack to thump it home.

Canberra would respond well to going behind, immediately peppering the Victory goal. It was only some desperate defending which kept Victory ahead, Gulcan Koca with multiple goal line clearances.

After surviving the period of sustained pressure, it was a defensive error which brought Victory undone. Michelle Heyman tucked home the equaliser and it was all square after 25 minutes.

15-year-old Kyra Cooney Cross, in her W-League debut, was one of Victory’s best in the first half. Playing down the left wing, the youngster showed her turn of pace and ball control at close quarters to set up plenty of attacking periods.

Christina Gibbons, playing as a holding midfielder in her Victory debut, looked composed both with and without the ball, showing off her range of passing and winning possession back.

The sides went into the break all square at one apiece, and it was Canberra who almost struck immediately after the resumption.

It was Alleway to the rescue with a remarkable, goal saving block from a shot no more than seven or eight yards out.

It sparked Victory into action, with the home side beginning to press higher and force Canberra into hopeful long balls rather than stringing together periods of possession.

Ironically it was then a Victory long ball which would unlock the game. Dumont found Natasha Dowie, quiet up until that point, and the Victory captain found herself one on one with only the keeper to beat. After her first effort was saved, the rebound fell invitingly and Dowie made no mistake to give Victory the lead.

Canberra immediately went on the attack trying to find a second equaliser, and it was Dumont who stood tall with just 15 minutes remaining, denying Heyman an equaliser when the Canberra striker had the goal at her mercy.

Victory continued to defend well and look for opportunities on the counter, and Lia Privitelli almost found the sealer with five minutes remaining.

The substitute picked up the ball well inside her own half and went on a mazy run until she fired off a long-range effort from 30 yards, the shot tipped just over the crossbar.

Victory was able to see out the rest of the match without incident, ensuring a perfect start to the season.

Melbourne Victory 2 (McNabb 5’, Dowie 64’)

Canberra United 1 (Heyman 24’)

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