Melbourne City FC has suffered defeat in the first Melbourne Derby of the 2021/22 season, going down 1-2 to a strong Melbourne Victory outfit. Despite opening the scoring thanks to an Amy Jackson own-goal, City couldn’t capitalise on the advantage as the Victory clawed two goals back through Catherine Zimmerman and Lynn Williams to strip City of all three points in front of an AAMI Park crowd.
Following an opening-round win, Rado Vidosic made just the one change to the starting lineup, introducing Tori Tumeth into the fold in place of Naomi Chinnama. Rebekah Stott continued in her midfield role following the success of the move in Round 1.
The game endured a stop-start opening 25 minutes, with lengthy pauses for injuries first to Casey Dumont and then Kaitlyn Torpey, though both players were fortunately able to continue.
These periods blunted the momentum that City had steadily been building in the game’s early stages, with the team finding success in releasing Hannah Wilkinson in behind the Victory defence, though the pair of chances that arrived in this manner were both spurned, the ball trailing wide of the post on either occasion.
The lengthy breaks really stunted the chance creation of either side, but the action picked back up towards the end of the first half. TJ Vlajnic came up with a curling effort to test Dumont, but the Victory keeper was able to parry the ball down and claim uncontested. Up the other end, Catherine Zimmerman forced a strong save from Melissa Barbieri, with the forward smashing an effort into the City shot-stopper’s midriff.
The breakthrough arrived deep in first-half stoppage time though, with City earning a set-piece on the wing which Vlajnic stepped up to take. Victory’s Amy Jackson darted in to deal with the wing-back’s dangerous, whipped ball but could only head into the back of her own net, handing City the 1-0 lead on the brink of half-time.
Holly McNamara’s down the right nearly set City up for a flying start to the second half, with the attacker teeing up Rhianna Pollicina in a great position inside the area in the 47th minute, but the midfielder couldn’t beat Dumont with her strike.
Things promptly headed downhill for City from there, with US international Lynn Williams’ introduction to the game leading to a shift in the balance and an equalising goal in the 65th minute. Former City player Alex Chidiac slipped a ball through for Catherine Zimmerman inside the box and the Victory striker was able to find the bottom corner with her low finish.
Just five minutes later, it would be Williams who would put her side ahead, with the forward getting onto the end of a ball in from the right that she was able to poke into the back of the net uncontested.
Whilst Victory appeared to control the game from there, a late red card saw City thrust right back into the contest, with Jackson sent off in the 88th minute after bringing down McNamara as she burst through towards goal.
A succession of great City chances followed, particularly from corners and set-pieces where the team had the extra number aerially, but Victory defended doggedly and held on until the final whistle to secure the win.
Following City’s opening round win against Canberra, the Derby result served as a reminder that there’s still plenty of work to do if we’re to make a return to Finals in Season 2021/22. City will next have the chance to rectify their performance when the team takes on Adelaide United at AAMI Park next Saturday.