Heroic Moments: Dowie's potentially decisive Westfield W-League strike
In a round spanning two years, soaring temperatures and crucial match-ups it was always likely Round 9 of the Westfield W-League was going to throw up a few magnificent strikes.
We've put together the best of the weekend's action as the race for finals well and truly heats up.
Dowie delivers as Victory return to the summit
Heading into their Round 9 clash with Perth Glory, there was a bit of pressure building on Jeff Hopkins’ Melbourne Victory.
After a superb start to the season, back-to-back losses meant the chasing pack were closing in on the early-season pace-setters.
In such a defining moment in their campaign, it was no surprise that star English striker Natasha Dowie stepped up to inspire Victory to a crucial win in the top-of-the-table clash.
Dowie scored the opening goal when she finished off a slick team move, cutting inside and holding off a couple of defenders before finishing past Eliza Campbell.
The goal sent Victory on their way to a morale-boosting 2-1 win over the in-form Glory and reasserted their title credentials.
It was Dowie’s eighth goal of the campaign to take her level at the top of the Golden Boot standings with Glory's Sam Kerr and Adelaide United star Veronica Latsko.
If Victory are to turn their exceptional season so far into success in the Finals Series, then Dowie is sure to be a key figure for the side.
In-form strikers boosting Canberra and Roar’s finals hopes
Canberra United and Brisbane Roar both remain very much in the mix for a top-four finish in the Westfield W-League after their hard-fought 1-1 draw last Thursday night.
And it’s a couple of attacking stars from different backgrounds that are spearheading their charge.
There was little known about Rhoda Mulaudzi before she joined United for the Westfield W-League 2018/19 Season but the South African has proved a revelation.
Her early strike against Roar was her fourth of the season from eight matches, while she also has an assist to her name.
In an up-and-down campaign so far for Heather Garriock’s side, Mulaudzi has been a consistent performer and it’s her ability to be an X-factor which could propel United to the Finals Series.
At the other end, Ipswich-raised Allira Toby made it three goals in as many games for the improving Roar.
Toby headed in Carson Pickett’s laser-like cross on 38 minutes to ensure Brisbane left the nation’s capital with a point to increase their unbeaten run to three games.
With the likes of Katrina Gorry, Yuki Nagasato and Celeste Boureille providing the ammunition, you wouldn’t bet against Toby continuing to find the net with regularity in coming weeks.
Late combo steals win for Reds
With the clock slowly but surely ticking down on Monday’s match in the Hunter, it looked as if the home side were set for a crucial victory over Adelaide United.
An own goal from Laura Johns had just given Newcastle Jets a 2-1 lead in sweltering conditions and all hope looked lost as the match entered injury time.
Then up stepped the Reds’ dynamic duo.
With the ball desperately hoofed upfield, Veronica Latsko controlled it and cushioned it into the path of the oncoming Isabel Hodgson who slotted it past Jets goalkeeper Britt Eckerstrom.
REPORT: Late show steals points for Reds
Not content with merely a point, the roles were then reversed as the visitors sought to crush the Jets’ spirit.
This time it was Hodgson who found herself with the ball before looking up and firing an inch-perfect cross that weaved its way through a mob of Jets defenders and into the path of Latsko.
All the American had to do was tap the ball into an empty net and the great escape was complete.
Individual efforts start New Year with a bang
It took all of 14 minutes for the Westfield W-League’s first goal of 2019 to be scored and what a way to bring in the new year.
Perhaps fittingly it came via Georgia Yeoman-Dale of Western Sydney Wanderers, a club that has struggled for most of 2018, in their match-up against Melbourne City.
Spotting City goalkeeper Lydia Williams off her line, Yeoman-Dale made a run into space and fired off an unstoppable curling shot into the back of the net.
REPORT: Wanderers fall to late City goal
It topped off an almost perfect half for her side but seven minutes from the break up stepped Tameka Butt of City with a pearler of her own.
Receiving the ball just outside the penalty area, Butt was fatally given time and space, enough for her to swap feet and loop a shot over Wanderers custodian Nicole Simonsen.
A late winner from Adriana Jones was enough to see off the Western Sydney challenge but not before Westfield W-League fans were treated to a couple of stunning strikes.