W-League preview: Sydney v Victory

Melbourne Victory is eyeing the Westfield W-League Premier's Plate as it prepares to visit Sydney FC on Wednesday.

Summary

Victory will win a second premiership in the Westfield W-League if it claims all three points at Cromer Park.

It secured its place in the Finals Series with Sunday's 6-0 thrashing of Perth Glory, extending its unbeaten run to seven games.

Melina Ayres scored a first-half brace before Kyra Cooney-Cross netted a brace after the break, to go with goals from Claudia Bunge and Catherine Zimmerman.

Ayres and Zimmerman both moved onto five goals for Victory this season, while Cooney-Cross has netted four.

Cooney-Cross, 19, also had a hand in the goals for Bunge and Zimmerman in what was an impressive performance.

Lisa De Vanna, meanwhile, played a part in Ayres' second and Cooney-Cross' first as Victory's attack dominated.

Victory equalled the club record for most wins in a Westfield W-League regular season with seven, while its points haul (23) is behind only the 24 it managed in 2018/19, when it won the premiership.

A win would see Victory finish top and host Canberra United in a Semi Final.

Any other result would mean Victory ends the regular season in third and makes the trip to Brisbane Roar in a last-four clash.

Head coach Jeff Hopkins' pre-match thoughts

on short turnaround…
"It's not ideal for us, but we've been working with Fuel Your Life, our nutritionists, so they're looking after our hydration and our nutrition over the next few days. We've been sourcing portable ice baths for recovery. Everything that we can do we are doing to lessen the impact of the game. It's not just the short turnaround, it's short turnaround, playing in Sydney, travelling and then travelling back and then probably having a final on the Sunday or the Monday, another turnaround as well, so it's managing our players into the game and managing them out of the game. It's something that we're dealing with, but we wouldn't have it any other way. The only way that we've got to win a premiership this year is to go up to Sydney on a short turnaround then we're up for it, we're happy to do it. I don't really see it as a major issue. We've had a game today (Sunday) which couldn't have gone any better for us in terms of managing the game either. We were able to take Lisa off before the hour, Amy Jackson, we rested Melina Ayres who's been working so hard for us over the past five or six games so we were able to get minutes into Zimm and she came through the game really well, Lia Privitelli, Nat Martineau, we got minutes into the girls that we needed to get minutes into and we rested players through the game as well."

on premiership…
"We've got our eyes on the prize now and that's all we're going to be focused on, going there and putting in a performance that allows us to win the game. Obviously Sydney are a very good side and they've been the frontrunners all season, but they're definitely not a team that's unbeatable and the form that we're in at the moment, we're playing as well as we have been all season and we're just coming into some really good form now. It's going to be a game that we're really up for and we're going to give it a really good shot."

on synthetic pitch…
"I guess the synthetic pitch, it's not ideal, we wouldn't choose to play on it, I'm sure Sydney FC wouldn't choose to play on it either, I guess the only way we're looking at it is it's the same for both sides. We've got to deal with it, they've got to deal with it. In terms of them as a team, we've got a huge amount of respect for them, they're a team that's been together in general for a long time, they know the Sydney FC style of play, they know the way that they play, they're used to playing together and they understand their game plan, they understand their style of play so that's a real advantage for them. They're a team that we've got to respect and we do respect, but they're a team that the way that we are playing at the moment we're confident that on our day we can beat any team in this league. That's the way that we feel and the way we're going into the game now."

Last time

Westfield W-League 2019/20 Semi Final
Melbourne Victory 0-1 Sydney FC
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Epping Stadium, Melbourne

The teams last met a year ago in a Semi Final.

Veronica Latsko scored what proved to be the winner for Sydney in the 14th minute.

Opta Widget: Last time

As it stands

Opta Widget: WWL table

Match details

Sydney FC v Melbourne Victory
Cromer Park, Sydney
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEDT