Melbourne Victory continues its push for a top-two finish in the Westfield W-League when it visits Perth Glory on Friday.
Ahead of the final round of the season, Victory – which has a game in hand – is top of the table and on a three-match unbeaten run.
Victory has booked its spot in the finals for the first time since 2014 after coming from behind twice to draw 2-2 with Sydney FC.
It meets a Perth side sitting fourth on the table and closing in on securing a finals place.
Completing its first full game in more than three weeks, Victory was in decent form against Sydney.
Casey Dumont saved an early penalty, while Emily Gielnik and Natasha Dowie scored fine goals to earn Victory a point.
Dowie moved onto nine goals this season and Gielnik up to three, which is the second most for the club alongside Christine Nairn.
Ella Mastrantonio set up Victory’s second goal, but the midfielder is suspended for the trip to Perth after picking up a fourth yellow card of the campaign.
While the clash at Dorrien Gardens marks the final round of the season, Victory will face Canberra United next week after the Round 12 encounter between the teams was abandoned earlier this month due to lightning.
Head coach Jeff Hopkins' pre-match thoughts
on the short turnaround…
"Very short turnaround. The main thing is making sure everyone was managed well out of the game. We didn't have any real issues with knocks or injuries, which was excellent. We came in the day after the game, did recovery at AAMI Park and then (Tuesday night) we did a ball recovery at Maribyrnong. We haven't really done a great deal, but at least the girls got a touch of the footballs (on Tuesday), did a little bit, just got the game out of their legs now so we'll do our tactical session (on Wednesday) and then head off in the morning so touch wood, everyone's come through the game pretty well, which is good."
on the approach…
"Nothing really changes. It's been game by game, just trying to get the players as focused as we possibly can on the game at hand and it's worked really well up to now so we don't really see any point in changing things to be honest."
on Mastrantonio's absence and squad depth…
"We've touched on this before, earlier in the season, the hardest decision for me every week is who we don't play, who we leave out or leave on the bench because we've got good depth and the players have been pushing themselves hard and training really well. We've spoken about it all year, at some stage through the season, everyone's going to be used and we just need to make sure when you get your chance, you take your chance. I'm confident we can bring someone in and they'll do a very good job."
"Most probably one of our best displays of the season (last time). They're a good side. They're not up near the top of the league for nothing. Obviously they've got Sam Kerr and (Rachel) Hill and (Alyssa) Mautz up front and everyone is really focusing on them, but they're a good side right the way through. They've got a strong midfield, they're solid at the back and a good goalkeeper as well. They're a tough proposition, although we played really well against them at home, they still caused us a few problems so we'll be working on one or two things in the next couple of days leading into the game. We're confident in our own ability. There are a few areas I think we can cause them some real problems. Although we'll be having a good look at them, a big focus for us will be on how we can hurt them."
Westfield W-League 2018/19 Round 9
Melbourne Victory 2-1 Perth Glory
Friday, December 28, 2018
AAMI Park, Melbourne
Victory produced a fine performance when the teams met late last year.
A brace from Dowie gave it a deserved lead before it held on following Rachel Hill’s late goal.
As it stands
Perth Glory v Melbourne Victory
Dorrien Gardens, Perth
Friday, February 1, 2019
Kick-off: 10.00pm AEDT