A late strike from Hannah Keane earned Western United a win in its first official Liberty A-League Women friendly, defeating Melbourne Victory 1-0.
After a tight contest with chances at either end, Keane was on hand to nod home at the back post with virtually the last action of the match at Morshead Park, capping off a superb afternoon for the Green and Black.
Mark Torcaso’s starting XI included three of United’s internationals with Hillary Beall starting in goal, Sydney Cummings lining up in front of her at centre-back and Hannah Keane taking a spot in the front three.
The Taranto twins started in midfield and Young Matilda Kahli Johnson also lined up in attack, while Jessica McDonald lay in waiting on the bench.
Much of the first half was about United finding its feet against the reigning Liberty A-League Women Champions, with continuous chains of possession hard to come by for both sides.
Kayla Morrison headed just wide from a corner for Victory and Melina Ayres threatened on a couple of occasions, but United was largely comfortable at the back.
Cummings led the backline with aplomb, exuding calmness on the ball and dominating her aerial duels and driving the team forward.
Most of United’s early threat came from Johnson and Keane in the wide areas and it was those two that combined for the side’s first half chance in front of goal.
Having switched the ball out to Johnson on the right flank, Keane continued her run into the box but could only skim the ball with the top of her head as Johnson’s cross was slightly too high.
Roles were reversed just before the break when Keane found Johnson in the box with a low cross from the right-wing, but the young attacker couldn’t keep her effort beneath the crossbar.
McDonald and Liberty A-League Women star Tyla Vlajnic came on at half-time and United continued to grow into the game, fashioning two major chances shortly after the break.
A neat bit of link-up play sent Keane through on goal but her effort was dragged just wide before Ava Groba, another half-time substitute, won the ball back from the resulting goal kick but just couldn’t get her shot away quick enough as her effort was charged down.
Beall was needed again at the other end minutes later as she tipped Paige Zois’ free-kick over the crossbar to keep the match scoreless.
Both sides continued to battle for spells of possession and United began to look a greater threat on the counter attack with the athleticism of McDonald and Johnson on either wing.
Neither goal was overly troubled until a flurry of chances with 10 minutes remaining. Johnson and Keane were at it once again as they both had efforts fly just over the crossbar before Beall made a strong save at her near post to deny Victory.
Just as it looked like the match would end without a goal, United worked the ball out to McDonald on the right-wing and her cross was perfect for Keane to nod home at the back post and give United the win.
Torcaso and his players will carry the confidence from the result into the final two weeks of pre-season before meeting Victory again in Round 1 of the Liberty A-League season on Saturday November 19.