Nairn wonder strike sends Victory top, City finals hopes scuppered
Christine Nairn's late strike from a seemingly impossible angle has given Melbourne Victory a 1-0 win over rivals Melbourne City in a gripping second instalment of the Melbourne Derby.
The strike, in a game where both sides had more than enough chances to steal the honours, sends Victory to outright first in the Westfield W-League with four rounds remaining.
Meanwhile, City have spurned a golden opportunity to climb into a finals spot at such a crucial point in the 2018/19 Season.
FULL-TIME HIGHLIGHTS: Sydney FC v Newcastle Jets
ANALYSIS: Eckerstrom stands tall but heroics not enough in Jets defeat
Tameka Butt enjoyed the first chance of the game, running in on goal towards Casey Dumont in the second minute. As she attempted to cut onto her left foot, Butt coughed up possession and the chance was gone.
That triggered a response from Melbourne Victory, who enjoyed a large share of possession thereafter. Jeff Hopkins’s side seemingly parked themselves in City’s half, forcing their opponents into desperate clearances and the halting of their rhythm.
Yet it was Melbourne City who would force saves, this time coming on 23 minutes. City’s midfield linked up in the middle of the park, before Elise Kellond-Knight let fly with a vicious shot that flew just wide of Dumont’s bottom-right post.
Almost 20 minutes later, Dumont would pull off one of the saves of the round, saving a shot that appeared destined for the bottom corner.
Butt struck a volley 10 yards out from a Helen Caceres cross and Dumont, who was going one way, quickly shifted her weight to stick out a strong right hand and tip the ball away from goal.
The second half began the way the first had ended, as both sides threw caution to the wind.
Natasha Dowie received a lofted through ball in behind City’s defence, but her shot flew wide of Lydia Williams’s goal. Unfortunately for the striker, the ball never sat up in a fanciful way.
Minutes later, on 57 minutes, Dumont rushed off her line to deny Butt, clearing the second ball well out of harm’s way.
Dumont was in the thick of the action again on 78 minutes, denying a goal but copping some friendly fire in the process.
The shot-stopper flew towards a fizzing cross, colliding into her own defender and requiring minutes of medical attention.
Dumont's contribution would be well worth it on 88 minutes when Nairn stepped up to take an in-swinging, left-footed corner.
From a seemingly impossible angle, the American international swung the ball over the players packed into the box, and nestled the ball into Williams's top left corner.
That goal sent the home crowd into raptures and Melbourne Victory into outright first at the end of Round 11.