Victory cruise past Newcastle to strengthen top four claim

Melbourne Victory bolstered their bid to play Westfield W-League finals football by accounting for Newcastle Jets 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Kayla Morrison’s first competition goal and Catherine Zimmerman’s fourth of the campaign helped Victory establish an unassailable two goal first half buffer.

It is a third win in a row for Jeff Hopkins’ side, who go third on the ladder ahead of a crucial encounter with top four rivals Canberra United next Sunday.

Victory beat the Jets 7-0 in the Hunter Valley almost a year ago to the day and appeared on course for another resounding win when Morrison headed Kyra Cooney-Cross’ pinpoint free kick delivery past Jets goalkeeper Claire Coelho on eight minutes.

Coehlo denied Melina Ayres from doubling the advantage in quick fashion and Cooney-Cross thundered the crossbar before Zimmerman applied an unerring finish past Coelho after being slipped into the box by Ayres.

Newcastle twice threatened to score late in the first half but Tara Andrews was denied by Gabriella Garton and headed Gema Simon’s delivery wide. 

Victory had chances to consolidate their advantage in the second half but eased their assault on the Newcastle goal and went closest with MelindaJ Barbieri hit the crossbar with a sweet free-kick.

A bad afternoon for the Jets got even worse in stoppage time when Rhianna Pollicina picked up her second yellow card of the evening.  

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Key moments

Newcastle started brightly and fashioned a good chance when Pollicina played Sunny Franco in behind the Victory defence, but Franco’s finish was high and over the bar.

That missed opportunity was swiftly punished by the visitors and United States international Morrison. A pinpoint delivery from Cooney-Cross saw the defender rise well and plant a header back across Claire Coelho in goal. Newcastle still wait for their first clean sheet of the season.

Coelho was called into action to prevent Melina Ayres from doubling the advantage in rapid fashion, parrying the striker’s effort at the near post after she was found by the returning Lisa De Vanna.

Zimmerman could not readjust her feet to turn in Ayres’ cross and Cooney-Cross thundered a wicked long-range effort against the crossbar as Victory continued to pile on the first half pressure.

Zimmerman capitalised by applying a cool finish past Coelho after Ayres slipped the United States international in behind for her fourth goal of the campaign.

Victory goalkeeper Garton was a relative bystander for most of the first half but she had to pull off a strong save to keep out Tara Andrews after Gema Simon’s delivery evaded the Victory defence, before Andrews headed another Simon cross wide on the cusp of half time.

De Vanna stung Coelho’s palms and Barbieri hit the crossbar with a well-struck free kick as Victory looked to consolidate their advantage in the second half.

Ayres thundered a header narrowly wide off Angela Beard’s cross while at the other end Newcastle attempted to puncture the Victory backline with the pace of Franco but the visitors were good value for their clean sheet and the three points.