W-League preview: Roar v Victory

League leader Melbourne Victory returns to Westfield W-League action with a trip to Brisbane Roar on Sunday.

Summary

Victory enjoyed a bye in Round 6, having beaten the Western Sydney Wanderers in its last outing on December 2.

It visits Lions Stadium unbeaten through five games, while it enters the round with a four-point buffer at the top.

Victory is also on a four-match winning run after an impressive start to the season.

It has the league's second best defence, while captain Natasha Dowie has again starred with five goals in as many games.

The striker and star midfielder Christine Nairn were on the scoresheet against the Wanderers.

Dowie was named the PFA W-League Player of the Month for October/November, while three of her team-mates – Nairn, Emily Gielnik and Laura Alleway – were also nominated for the award.

Nairn still leads the Westfield W-League for chances created (16) despite Victory's bye in the previous round.

In a further boost to Victory, it will regain left-back Angela Beard from suspension for the trip to Brisbane.

Having already made a record-breaking start to the season, Victory is aiming to win five straight games for the first time in the competition.

Brisbane is sixth in the Westfield W-League after picking up seven points from five games.

Head coach Jeff Hopkins' pre-match thoughts

on the bye…
"We actually worked hard leading out of last week. The girls had the weekend off and then we've had two good sessions, worked hard again early this week. It's quite a long week for us. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, I think we'll start to really focus again on the Brisbane side. Hopefully the girls will be just freshened up a little bit, and ready to go again. It looks that way, the way they've trained over the last week or so. It doesn't give me any worries."

on Dowie and player of the month nominees…
"It's obviously great for us, great for the players as individuals to be nominated. I think it's deserved. Obviously, Tash takes the main award, but I think the strength of us this season so far has been the strength of the collective really, not the individual. Tash has been able to benefit from that obviously. The way that the team are off the field, it translates to a real strength and unity on the field and is what we try to promote here this season but a credit to the girls, when they're out on the field together, they've really gelled and turned into a really strong side. That's what we're going to try and work off this weekend again, is that team unity, that team spirit and build from there. It's not just about that. There's been some really good individual performances within that, but those individual performances are coming off a very, very strong foundation built by the team."

on Beard's return…
"Again, the strength of the bench was great. Annabel (Martin), you're bringing in a player that's comfortable as a starter. Putting 'Bel' in at right-back, moving Teigen (Allen) across, it didn't affect us at all which was very good. Angie should come straight back into the side this week, but it's most probably a good thing for me that it was kind of seamless. Angie was out, 'Bel' comes in, nothing changed, the way that we played, the way that we defended, exactly the same. I was really pleased with the way the back four worked last game. Annabel was a big part of that."

Last time

Westfield W-League 2017/18 Round 10
Brisbane Roar 2-1 Melbourne Victory
Friday, January 5, 2018
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Victory was edged by Brisbane when the teams met earlier this year.

Despite a stunning opener from Melina Ayres, Victory fell after second-half goals from Clare Polkinghorne and Celeste Boureille saw Roar to its win.

As it stands

Opta Widget: WWL table

Match details

Brisbane Roar v Melbourne Victory
Lions Stadium, Brisbane
Sunday, December 16, 2018
Kick-off: 4.00pm AEDT