Goals to Natasha Dowie and Christine Nairn were the difference as Melbourne Victory defeated Premiership rivals Perth Glory 2-1 in a controversial encounter at AAMI park on Friday night.
A goal either side of half-time, the second of which looked to have crossed the baseline in the lead-up, was enough to put Victory temporarily back on top of the Westfield W-League ladder.
The thermometer still read 33 degrees upon kick-off in the Victorian capital but you wouldn’t have guessed it seeing the way the game began, both sides ready and willing to attack.
The visitors came within inches of taking the lead when Sam Kerr found herself through on goal but her touch to round Victory custodian Casey Dumont was just too heavy as it rolled over the baseline.
Not too long after the scoring got underway but through the team in navy blue and via star player Dowie.
The English striker finished a slick team move by cutting inside, holding off Glory defenders and slotting her strike past the rushing Eliza Campbell.
Rachel Hill should have hit back immediately after Kerr turned the ball over in the Victory box but her shot was well saved by an alert Dumont.
Emily Gielnik showed some quick feet and was unfortunate not to double her side’s lead after her curling effort thumped back off the crossbar while at the other end Hill went close again but Dumont was able to bat down her header from close range.
Jeff Hopkins side proceeded to turn the screws after the break, Lia Privitelli dancing along the baseline before teeing up Gielnik, whose point-blank shot was well saved by Campbell.
When Victory doubled their lead in the 83rd minute it wasn’t without controversy as the ball was shown on replay to have been carried out by Gielnik before it found Nairn, who crossed it to the far post where Dowie headed home but not before it had crossed the line.
Perth were buoyed when the fourth official called for six additional minutes but they only needed one to hit back in the simplest of fashions.
Campbell’s goal kick floated to Kerr in space before the Westfield Matilda put through Hill who looped her shot over Dumont.
But they couldn’t find that elusive second as Victory held on to go back atop the Westfield W-League ladder.