Image: Matt Johnson
Calder United’s Bethany Mason-Jones became the newest NPLW player to make the step up the W-League, debuting for Victory in the weekend’s Melbourne derby.
While it was a monumental 19th birthday present, unfortunately the initiation onto the national stage proved to be a baptism of fire for the young shot stopper.
Her introduction came in the second half against a rampant Melbourne City side which was already 1-0 up and went on to win the derby 3-0 at AAMI Park.
Still, having international stars Steph Catley and Jess Fishlock score against you makes for an impressive story to be able to tell.
Mason-Jones came on with 20 minutes to go following an injury to Victory’s first choice Bianca Henninger. She had hurt herself initially in the 61st minute when a Teigen Allen cross struck the post – Melina Ayres netted from the resulting scramble but was flagged offside.
Henninger played on, but not for much longer, coming off soon after City eventually scored in the 65th minute via Jess Fishlock who tapped in a Marianna Tabain ball into the box.
The two goals – especially the second – proved to be a killer blow for Victory, as the side was starting to make some inroads into the contest. Marianna Tabain played another pinpoint ball, this time to Catley, who had all the time in the world to compose herself after being left with plenty of space by the defence, finishing past the onrushing Mason-Jones.
A bit of class from NPLW counterpart Melina Ayres saw her time a delightful chip to find Fishlock in the box, with the latter making no mistake from close range.
It capped a solid outing for Ayres, who had combined well with the likes of Catley – playing in an advanced role – up front, and central midfielders Fishlock and Amy Jackson.
She also had a couple of sighters on goal but apart from the offside strike couldn’t find the back of the net.
Meanwhile, Mason Jones’ NPLW teammate Tyla-Jay Vlajnic made her usual late cameo for City.
Elsewhere, Victory’s defence consisting of NPLW trio Annabel Martin, Alex Natoli and Alex Cheal had done well to contain City’s attack for the first half but couldn’t hold them off for the full 90.
The midfield, including Adriana Taranto and MelindaJ Barbieri, were powerless to resist the dominance of City’s midfield experience, with the reigning champions enjoying the majority of possession.
Barbieri did have a shot on target after half an hour but also succumbed to injury in the 80th minute, replaced by Rachel Alonso. With Melissa Taranto already out with a lengthy injury, it made for nervous viewing.
Further forward, Lia Privitelli and subs Laura Spiranovic and Alonso also had a tough time of it up front, working hard to chase down the ball in City’s defence but not having much to cheer about by way of goals.
Across the Nullarbor, with Perth Glory having the bye, it meant a week off for Alamein’s Melissa Maizels.