Despite troubles in front of the net, Melbourne Victory took home a 0-1 win against Newcastle Jets. Image: Keep Up.

Melbourne Victory have once again struggled in front of the net, but a debut goal from Brooke Hendrix has led to the side to a 0-1 win against Newcastle Jets on Tuesday evening.

The duo in the Victory forward line of Alex Chidiac and Kyra Cooney-Cross were unstoppable in the first half, leading their team to advantage for both total shots taken and shots on target; three to 19 and one to five respectively.

This was supported by Alana Murphy and Maja Markovski who too involved themselves in scoring assists and opportunities, including an attempt that was harder for Markovski to miss then to score.

When she should have just used all her force to shoot from inside the box, Markovski calmly tried to kick the ball into the goal, making for one of the easiest saves for Jets’ keeper Claire Coelho.

Cooney-Cross and Chidiac too had their fair share of opportunities in the forward third, and no matter what they did, could not convert.

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The frustration was visible from both forwards, who continued to misfire the ball.

With such dominance, Victory deserved the recognition on the scoreboard but simply could not find the back of the net.

Other than their Boxing Day 1-5 defeat in the Melbourne derby, Victory have been consistent enough to slide themselves into fourth place with two games in hand prior to the evening’s match.

Victory head coach Jeff Hopkins said that despite that loss, his side is performing well and getting better; believing that the two losses earlier in the season don’t reflect his side’s overall performance or contribute to the lack of intensity brought against the Jets.

“We won our first three games and won them well and come up against two good sides [referring to Victory’s losses],” he said.

“We’ve done a lot of work in this time we’ve had for this COVID break. We’ve readjusted a bit and working as a group. We’ve reset things and it’s looking a lot better now.”

But with the lack of accuracy from the forward line, the Jets could have easily taken any advantage to steal the lead, and later on even a win, should have Victory continued to miss.

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Hopkins said that intensity was something he spoke with his side about before the game and at half time, yet still failed to implement on the pitch.

“We talked about before the game and talked about it at half time that we need to play the game at our intensity. I couldn’t put my finger on it but maybe we were five per cent off from top intensity that would have allowed us to put the game away,” he said.

“It’s something we talked about but didn’t actually bring in the second half.

“When you’re not playing at the top of your game, the other side of things is to just in the game, not give away thing… and just to hold on, we worked on those things.”

Chances piled up for Cooney-Cross at the commencement of the second half. From her most comfortable position on the right, she ran the ball and with driving force attempted to finally find the back of the net.

She yet again failed, this time the shot too elevated which kept the scores to 0-0.

The answer for Victory came from American debutant Brooke Hendrix in the 55th minute, when her header into the net gave her side the lead it had deserved.

A deep free kick taken by Murphy was weighted perfectly to her awaiting teammates allowing Hendrix to score, stepping forward from her position as central defending to show her new teammates how to score a goal.

Victory no doubt would have been pleased with the result, but it leaves the question of why from an abundance of chances, the forward line, which was so dominant all match, failed to find the net even once.

In contrast, it was the first time in the club’s history that it managed three clean sheets in a row, a testament to the impressive defensive efforts.

Even with the improved second half of the Jets, which saw their scoring shots reach to 11 opportunities, Victory’s defence remained composed and read the ball well to react.

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Next week, Victory face top-of-the-ladder side in Sydney. A performance like tonight’s, although dominant against its opponent, would simply not be enough against a side which has only conceded one goal for the season.

Hopkins said that he knows his side also has the ability to take its performance further, and expects to see it from the girls in the upcoming matches but to do so, need to pick back up that five per cent that missed against Newcastle.

“We’ve got to be a lot better than this,” he said.

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