Natasha Dowie’s spectacular volley got Melbourne Victory’s Westfield W-League Premiership defence up and running in a thrilling 3-2 win against Brisbane Roar.
English striker Dowie’s second strike of the evening on 76 minutes was the highlight as the Premiers quickly put the memories of their Round 1 Big Blue defeat against Champions Sydney FC behind them.
Roar defender Kaitlyn Torpey headed into her own net and Victory captain Dowie scored a spot-kick inside a quick-fire first quarter of an hour in Redcliffe.
Brisbane replied when all-time top goalscorer Tameka Yallop struck her 50th Westfield W-League goal but she was denied another before half-time when visiting keeper Casey Dumont saved her 41st-minute penalty.
Dumont produced goalkeeping heroics against her former club, making a string of excellent second-half saves as the Queenslanders poured forward to try and salvage a result in rookie head coach Jake Goodship’s first game in the Roar dugout.
Dowie’s stunning effort made it 3-1 to stem the home side’s comeback attempt, although substitute Indiah-Paige Riley struck to reignite Roar’s hopes in the closing stages.
After falling two goals behind in the opening 21 minutes cost them dearly in the 3-0 loss against champions Sydney FC on Sunday, Victory started on the front foot in Redcliffe with Melina Ayres scuffing a close-range shot inside three minutes.
Yallop struck a warning sign on nine minutes but Roar fell behind a minute later when Torpey skewed a delivery from American winger Darian Jenkins beyond her own ‘keeper Mackenzie Arnold’s reach.
The Premiers doubled their lead four minutes later when Brisbane debutant Claire Farrington, who came in to replace new Victory defender Jenna McCormick, bundled over Dowie in the penalty box and the English striker dusted herself down to convert from the spot.
It was an impressive first quarter from Jeff Hopkins’ side, who only had a four-day turnaround between away games but, coming of a Round 1 bye, Roar finally clicked when a slick three-player move went through Westfield Matildas teammates Katrina Gorry and Hayley Raso, before Yallop added the finishing touch.
Raso’s fierce strike from Gorry’s cross-field pass forced visiting keeper Dumont into a strong save on 36 minutes, before Dowie spurned a clear chance to extend the lead on 40 minutes when Arnold’s out-stretched foot came to Roar’s rescue.
A launched free-kick into the Victory area struck the arm of captain Dowie to hand Brisbane a dream chance to equalise before the interval, but Dumont was equal to Gorry’s firmly-struck penalty kick.
Goodship’s side continued to push for an equaliser after the break as Dumont parried away Carson Pickett’s strike from distance. The 27-year-old keeper then made an outstanding one-handed stop from Celeste Boureille’s 18-yard effort, as Rylee Baisden was ruled offside after tucking away the rebound.
Dumont was called into action to make a superb double save as Brisbane piled forward on 70 minutes, with first Yallop and then Boureille denied by the custodian’s rapid reflexes, before Dowie's acrobatics turned the tide back in the away side's favour.
Riley kept the game alive at 3-2 four minutes later with a precision shot from close range and Roar upped the tempo in search of a leveller in the final 10 minutes.
With the clock ticking down, Raso burst through the Victory defence but pulled her attempt wide of goal and Brisbane substitute Hollie Palmer slashed an effort over the crossbar with the match in the balance.
Raso was carried off the pitch with a hand injury in stoppage time following a collision with former Roar player McCormick as Victory held on to edge this battle of first and second-placed teams from the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season.