A dramatic 91st-minute strike from McKenzie Weinert has extended Melbourne Victory’s unbeaten run to four straight games, rescuing all three points in a tight 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners at the Home of the Matildas.
Kurea Okino’s first goal in Victory colours gave the home side the lead on the hour mark, before a brilliant strike from Faye Bryson brought the scores level just over 10 minutes later.
With time expiring, Weinert got in behind the Mariners defence and fired home a late winner to wrap up a third win of the season for Victory.
Jeff Hopkins’ side go into the international break sitting in fourth place on the standings, turning their form around brilliantly since late October where they went into the last break with consecutive losses to start the season.
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Meanwhile, it’s a first loss for the Mariners since their opening round defeat to Newcastle Jets, ending a three-game unbeaten streak in the most heartbreaking of circumstances.
Central Coast boss Emily Husband handed star goalkeeper Casey Dumont her maiden start since making the move to Gosford, deputising in place of Courtney Newbon against her former side.
The Mariners got a foothold on the contest early, led in part by some good work from Peta Trimis in midfield. Their best chance fell to Isabel Gomez, who was one able to divert her effort on target, firing over the bar.
Victory began to work their way into the match as the first-half wore on. A brilliant cross from Jessika Nash was punched into the path of Beattie Goad by Dumont, but the Victory winger had her goal-bound effort cleared by Ashley Irwin.
Weinert threatened up and down the right-flank, getting in goalscoring areas either side of Goad’s chance, but was unable to hit the scoreboard – putting her two efforts over the bar.
Victory started strongly in the second-half, as a marauding run from an unlikely source in Kayla Morrison kickstarted an attack down the left-wing, crossing to Weinert, who put it in the path of Lowe, although her volley was well saved by Dumont.
Lowe – who came into the contest in ripping form with four goals in two games – again came close with a back-post header, but could only put her header wide.
Jeff Hopkins’ side would finally have the breakthrough as Tori Hansen nodded Alana Murphy’s corner into the path of Okino who contorted her body brilliantly to volley home from close range.
Victory’s lead, however, lasted just over ten minutes. Wurigumula put the ball on a platter for the on-rushing Bryson, who cooly placed the ball past Lydia Williams to bring the scores level.
Just when it looked like Victory were set to surrender a second-half lead in consecutive matches, Weinert would finally get some reward for her effort.
The American and Taren King collided on the edge of the box, sending the ball high into the air, but allowing the American forward to get in behind, before riding a Bryson challenge, and looping it over Dumont to wrap up the win.
THE TALKING POINT
What a moment for Kurea Okino.
The Japanese striker had been patiently waiting for her first Liberty A-League goal throughout the opening rounds of the season and was finally rewarded on Sunday afternoon. Okino came into the round sitting equal-second with Hannah Keane for shots taken in the competition with 20, but was yet to open up her Victory account.
She wouldn’t be denied on the 23rd attempt.
Now, she’s finally off the mark and will be hoping to recapture the same kind of form that saw her fall on the radar of Victory, as a result of her incredible form for Boroondara Eagles in NPLW Victoria, where she scored a whopping 31 goals en route to winning the Golden Boot.
McKenzie Weinert was the star of the show on Sunday, capping off a brilliant showing with a goal to win the game against the Central Coast Mariners.
The American attacker has been a very handy addition to Jeff Hopkins’ side this season, scoring two goals from her first six games and providing a constant threat up-and-down the right flank.
Weinert’s composure in the lead-up to the winner was particularly impressive, standing up under enormous pressure to pop home the winner.
WHAT THIS MEANS
Victory go into the international break off the back of a much-better run of form.
Jeff Hopkins’ side are unbeaten in four games, with three wins and a draw to their name, and they would argue they should have 12 points from a possible 12, instead of 10 points from those said contests.
Reinforcements are also on the way, with the break giving Emma Checker and Emily Gielnik an extra week to get themselves right for the next game.
And said contest is set to be an absolute blockbuster, coming up against the high-flying Wellington Phoenix on December 10 at Porirua Park.
Meanwhile, the Mariners’ unbeaten streak ends at three straight games. Emily Husband’s side can take plenty out of the last month, particularly the win over Wellington last week. They also showed promise in the loss to Victory, but were undone in key moments.
They currently sit among a logjam of teams on seven points – which could change by the end of the round – and are firmly in the mix for finals football at the current point.
Their next match is against Western Sydney Wanderers on December 8.