Natasha Dowie delivered a double as Melbourne Victory notched a third straight win with a commanding 3-0 triumph over bottom-of-the-table Adelaide United on Saturday evening.
The Victory captain struck a goal in each half as Jeff Hopkins' side notched their first away win over the Reds in seven years to move to the cusp of the Westfield W-League top four.
The former English international's goals book-ended a further second half strike from Rosie Sutton to seal the win for the Victory and keep the defending Premiers firmly in the Westfield W-League Finals Series frame.
The result moves Victory level on points with fourth-placed Brisbane Roar, however, Victory still boast a game in hand over the Queenslanders.
Victory started brightly against the winless United at Marden Sports Complex, but failed to capitalise on a series of promising early forward forays, as Laura Brock, Dowie and Amy Jackson missed the target in the opening quarter hour.
The pressure told in the 17th minute though as Dowie tucked away the opener - her stabbed, first-time shot from Jackson’s cut-back flashing past Sarah Willacy on her near post.
The chances from open play proved hard to come by following the breakthrough, with Adelaide’s Julia Ashley heading wide from a corner with the only scoring chance prior to the half-hour.
Similarly, Victory were also restricted to set-piece opportunities as Dowie sent a free-kick over the cross bar in the 33rd minute before drawing a save on the bounce from Willacy with another free-kick attempt two minutes later.
A set-piece also led to the final chance of the half as Angela Beard headed just over the crossbar on the 44th minute from a Jackson corner kick.
The impetus remained with the Victory after the restart as Rosie Sutton drew a sharp save from Willacy in the 50th minute.
Struggling to find a route to goal, Isabel Hodgson sent an ambitious long-range drive high and wide in the 56th minute for the Reds.
However, it was the Victory that remained the greater threat as Annalie Longo pushed a shot wide on the turn and Dowie poked an effort beyond the far post either side of the hour.
In the 73rd minute the Victory were further frustrated as Willacy pushed a cross from Sutton into the path of Longo, who saw her ensuing shot cleared off the line by Ashley.
It took until the 75th minute for the Reds to finally call Casey Dumont into action in the Victory goal when Charlotte Grant drew a save from Emily Hodgson’s cross.
However, the attempt only served to spur on the Victory who struck twice in quick time to put the contest to bed.
Sutton doubled the visitors’ advantage in the 76th minute after turning in a squaring ball from Jenna McCormick at close range from a corner kick.
In the 81st minute Dowie sealed the win with her fifth goal of the campaign – volleying home from ten yards out on the back of a back post nod down from Darian Jenkins.
The result marks just the second clean sheet of the campaign for the Victory.
Dowie puts Victory ahead early
After dominating the early exchanges, Victory had their reward in the 17th minute through their captain, Natasha Dowie.
The former English international positioned herself perfectly to capitalise on a cutback from Amy Jackson - delivering a neat first time finish at the near post.
Willacy keeps the Reds in the contest
Looking to build on their first half, the Victory threatened early in the second stanza and were only denied a second by sharp goalkeeping from Sarah Willacy.
A early ball forward from Angela Beard was won by Natasha Dowie, who layed it on for Rosie Sutton on the burst, but her low strike was pushed wide by the Reds shot-stopper.
Ashley clears off the line
The Victory continued to push for goals but were increasingly frustrated as the second half pressed on.
Annalie Longo came closest to doubling the lead in the 73rd minute but was foiled by a well-positioned Julia Ashley, who cleared the shot off the line for the under-pressure Reds.
Finally Victory get their second
The visitors finally had their reward for their patient perseverance in the 78th minute as the Reds defence relented a second goal.
A corner from Amy Jackson was nodded down by Darian Jenkins for the Victory and latched onto by Jenna McCormick at the back post.
The Westfield Matilda's defender's effort beat Willacy in the Reds goal and enabled the well-positioned Rosie Sutton to get a deft touch to turn it over the line at close range.
Dowie seals the win with her second
Knowing an extra goal would move them into the top four, the Victory struck again shortly after as Natasha Dowie netted her fifth goal of the season.
The Victory captain's near-post position was picked out by a well-placed nod down from Darian Jenkins and she made no mistake with a firm, volleyed finish past Willacy to seal the points.
Adelaide United v Western Sydney Wanderers
Saturday, 25 January 2020
Marden Sports Complex
Kick-off: 7pm local, 7.30pm AEDT
Melbourne Victory v Canberra United
Sunday, 26 January 2020
Kick-off: 4pm AEDT
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