Victory ignore Canberra ALW points drama, focus on Roar

Anna Harrington |

Victory ALW coach Jeff Hopkins says the clash with Brisbane is crucial to his team’s finals hopes.
Victory ALW coach Jeff Hopkins says the clash with Brisbane is crucial to his team’s finals hopes.

Melbourne Victory won’t let the fresh prospect of Canberra United snatching their finals spot deter them from their A-League Women championship defence.

Canberra returned to the finals race after Football Australia’s appeals process struck out a three-point deduction on Friday.

United had been docked the points on March 6 for using a fourth substitution window in their 2-1 win against Sydney FC on February 11, with the Australian Professional Leagues instead awarding the Sky Blues a 3-0 victory.

Once their points were restored, Canberra sat just two points behind Victory leading into the penultimate round, and leapfrogged them into fifth with a 3-0 win over leaders Western United on Saturday.

Victory will have to shrug off the decision, and their temporary departure from the finals places, and focus on facing Brisbane at CB Smith Reserve on Sunday.

“It’s no different at all, really. Obviously it would have been nice if they had actually dealt with this properly and dealt with it in a decent time frame,” Victory coach Jeff Hopkins told AAP on Friday.

“It’s not just for Canberra’s sake or for our sake, but for Perth, for Sydney, there’s a lot of clubs involved. 

“Surely it’s not that difficult a decision to make – you’ve either broken the rules or you haven’t and then you either get the three points or you don’t. That’s most probably the only disappointing thing.

“But we just understood that we needed to win this game this weekend and that’s not really changed for us. So the importance of the game is still there.

“It now most likely means things will go right to the last weekend but we’re prepared for that.”

Katrina Gorry’s departure has significantly weakened the Roar but Hopkins was determined not to let the game become a banana skin.

“Even the Canberra decision, that’s going to just help our mentality going into the game,” he said.

“We understood coming into this game, this is a really vital game for us. It’s one we have to win. 

“There can’t be and there won’t be any complacency on our part.”

Roar striker Shea Connors has been one of the league’s most dangerous attackers and will be crucial to Sunday’s clash.

“We obviously understand how good a player she is. The goal she scored against us in Brisbane was an absolute cracker as well,” Hopkins said.

“She’s capable of scoring some quite spectacular goals. She’s very, very good at playing and getting in behind defences, very quick and they can play to those strengths as well.

“We need to be pretty vigilant when it comes to their front three.”