Victory wary of desperate Glory, history, in ALW

His side may be riding an A-League Women winning streak, but Melbourne Victory boss Jeff Hopkins is wary of both the challenge that a desperate Perth Glory will present his side and that the weight of history that may favour the West Australians in their clash on Friday afternoon. 

Lifted by a first-half Alex Chidiac strike and a Casey Dumont performance that has reignited calls for the goalkeeper to receive a Matildas call-up, Victory survived a scare from Canberra United, again, to record a 1-0 win out at CB Smith Reserve on New Year’s Eve, 

Melbourne Victory coach Jeff Hopkins
Image Supplied: Melbourne Victory

Not only did the triumph stretch the two-time defending champion’s run of wins to four it also, thanks to Adelaide United’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Newcastle Jets, lifted them into the top four for the first time this season. 

Perth, in contrast, fell to their fourth defeat of the season on New Year’s day when Western United stormed back from a 2-1 deficit and grabbed a 2-1 win thanks to a goal from Matildas midfielder Chloe Logarzo and an unfortunate own-goal from Perth’s Demi Koulizakis. 

A season on from pushing Victory in the race for the last slot in the finals, the West Australians have struggled to recapture the form that made them one of the league’s most welcome surprise packets in 2022/23: winning just a single game compared to two draws and four losses in their opening seven games. 

In previous ALW seasons, such an adverse start would pretty much eliminate them from finals contention but, with teams playing a lengthened schedule of 18 rounds this year, hope remains for coach Alex Epakis’ unit that they’ll be able to turn it around. 

Seven points adrift of a fourth-place on the ALW table currently occupied by Victory, however, most scenarios in which such a comeback occurs would very likely require a win in the two side’s clash at AAMI Park – just like they were able to accomplish in round 12 of last season when they came to Melbourne and left with a 2-0 win. 

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“ I don’t want to talk for Alex, that’s for him to do, but if I was in that position I know what I’d be doing with our team,” said Hopkins. 

“I know the type of performance that I’d be expecting from my team. And we’re expecting that. 

“The game last year when they came here and they put in a really good performance, that’s probably fresh in their minds: that they know they can come here and they have beaten us in the recent past. 

“We’ll be doing everything that we can to make sure that we put in a really strong, tough, hard-working performance and I think if we can do that I’m confident that we can match it with any team in the league.”

Victory defeated Glory 3-0 at Macedonia Park back on December 11 but, while such a result does bode well for tomorrow’s hosts, Hopkins is also wary of a historical trend he has identified: his sides have struggled in the second meeting with an opposition that they had recently faced.

It’s a trend that is perhaps exemplified by Victory smashing Melbourne City 6-0 in round three of the 2020-21 season, only to fall to a 3-2 defeat against the very same opposition just a week later.  

“History kind of shows that when we’ve played teams a second time within a short period of time that we’ve struggled a little bit,” said Hopkins. 

“We’ve tried to do things a bit differently this week. We’re focusing on the technical side and the tactical side, for sure, but more around our physical preparation, our ability to work hard, to be cohesive as a team without the ball.

“If we can get that right, I think the other side of the game, I’m hoping, will look after itself. 

“Because we’ve got a lot of quality when we are in possession of the ball, we’ve just got to make sure that when we don’t have the ball we’re 100 per cent perspective and we’re more than ready to match Perth with the physical side of the game.”

Kiwi international Claudia Bunge remains on the sideline with an ankle injury and will miss Friday afternoon’s clash, as well as striker Melina Ayres, who is out with a hamstring injury. 

Bunge, however, is said to be very close to a return by Hopkins, who also confirmed the central defender will not be released to play in New Zealand’s coming friendlies with the USWNT as the games fall outside a FIFA international window. 

Elise Kellond-Knight is expected to return after missing the win over Canberra with illness and with Gema Simon still out with a calf injury, looms as a possible option at left-back. 

With Ayres out, Danish international Rikke Madsen, signed as an injury replacement player for Catherine Zimmerman, will likely lead the line. 

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Header Image Credit: Melbourne Victory


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