It’s the time of the year when clubs look towards the home stretch of the season and The Football Sack critiques each club’s progress so far.

Do you agree with our assessments made in the return of our January report cards?

Semester Summary: After finishing bottom of the ladder in the two previous seasons Melbourne Victory are clearly a club in a rebuilding phase with a crop of young players given great opportunities to build their exposure to the W-League level.

This season the club has maintained its focus of letting young players come through but looked to mainly sure up their defence to make them less of an easy-beat. Bold signings included Victory returnee Laura Alleway, Casey Dumont and American Kristen McNabb.

Victory’s campaign got off to a dream start by defeating last season’s premiers and semi-finalists Canberra United in Round 1 as McNabb and Natasha Dowie gave Victory a confidence boosting 2-1 win.

Embed from Getty Images

From then on it’s been a mixed bag of results and the only other time they’ve taken three points came in an emphatic 4-0 win against Adelaide United.

Five losses from eight games have seen them reside in seventh place on the table.

Areas of Excellence: Despite appearing to struggle in seventh spot on the ladder, Victory’s defence has held up well enough to at least avoid a big blow out in the final score line.

Article continues after this sponsored video (which you should totally watch)

Victory have conceded 13 goals, better than top-four teams Newcastle Jets and Sydney FC (15 & 14 respectively) and level with fourth-placed Melbourne City.

Victory’s biggest losses so far came against strong opposition – Perth Glory, Sydney FC and Newcastle, so the gulf in class is evident.

None of those clashes ended in more than a two-goal margin, demonstrating that Victory haven’t been completely dominated and a more competitive outfit despite failing to take anything from those matches.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas in need of improvement: A concerning factor as to why Victory are far down the table is that they’re failing to regularly find the back of the net.

Victory’s ten goals so far only betters the teams below them in Western Sydney Wanderers and Adelaide.

Part of the reason for Victory’s lack of scoring is the fact that most of the club’s young talent is found further up the park.

Kyra Cooney-Cross and Lia Privitelli have mainly featured in an attack featuring captain Natasha Dowie.

It would be hard to expect regular end product from Cooney-Cross and Privitelli who are mainly looking to learn their craft, continuing to work in tandem with a mentor such as Dowie.

Top students: It’s hard to go past what Dowie has done this season when you consider half of Victory’s ten goals have come from the skipper.

The captain’s contribution has seen her enter the record books, something that has been her goal throughout the season.

Victory’s 4-0 result against Adelaide was made sweeter as Dowie’s two goals on the day saw her break the all-time goal scoring record for Victory in the W-League, surpassing Caitlin Friend’s previous best of 14.

Goals have been hard to come by, but Dowie has led the way in that department.

Embed from Getty Images

Victory’s respectable amount of goals conceded can be put down to the work of Casey Dumont in goal who has shown her vast expertise from over 50 games in the W-League before joining Melbourne, making an average of 4.25 saves per game.

Class clown: Mindy Barbieri was a permanent fixture in a struggling Victory side that finished last on the ladder in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, featuring in 23 matches during her first two seasons at the club.

Despite playing in a lowly team she won the 2015-16 Young Player of the Year.

Her third season at Victory has been indifferent though managing just five appearances with only one start and four substitute appearances.

She offers good depth with many W-League appearances for her age but has a battle on her hands to regain her place as a locked starting XI member.

Grade: C

Outlook: Sitting in seventh, a chance at finals football is a long shot for Melbourne but not impossible.

The Melbourne Derby at Epping Stadium appears crucial for Victory who must win to keep a slim finals berth alive.

They have a game in hand over all the top four teams but will need results to go their way as Melbourne City in fourth are nine points clear of Victory.

Victory have had their byes and will have four games in a row that are make or break.

They’ll be put to the test against City and Sydney FC but have a couple of winnable games against the Wanderers and Adelaide.

SHARE
Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.