Young gun stars in new role to find Melbourne Victory’s missing piece

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Kyra Cooney-Cross was lauded as the next big thing in the A-League Women’s competition, and while those plaudits were hardly unfounded, up until this point she has been yet to take the next step.

She has hardly been mediocre, but having not scored a goal in six appearances, and being sent off in a pivotal moment early in the season, it looked like she had been brought back down to Earth.

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What a single adjustment can do. After spending most of her time this season working through the middle of the ground, Melbourne Victory coach Jeff Hopkins moved Cooney-Cross over to the wing in what proved to be a masterstroke.

In her side’s dominant 5-0 win over Western Sydney Wanderers, Cooney-Cross assisted two important goals, and capped off her performance with a goal of her own.

But it was not just the stats that impressed, she was seemingly involved in every single threatening passage of play the Victory made, hurling down the flank on a number of occasions before sending the ball flying dangerously into the mix.

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Hopkins was full of praise for his young star after the match.

“She’s a super talented player, she can play in a number of different positions,” he said.

“For us, we were just looking for the position where she can best help us win the game, and at the moment she’s doing fantastically well outside.”

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While being moved from a central role to the wing might have made some young guns bristle, Cooney-Cross seems to have revelled in the opportunity, and the personal stats and praise have come along with it.

“Just the fact that she’s happy to play in a position that suits the team, is, I think for a 20-year-old footballer, very mature,” Hopkins said.

“It shows that she’s going to be a hell of a player over the next few years.”

This move could prove vital in how the rest of the season plays out for the defending champions, who currently sit third on the table with hopes of climbing the ladder over the back-end of the season.

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Victory has a number of players who are capable of being distributors through the middle, Mindy Barbieri chief among them. What they have lacked is some real creativity and speed along the wings, and Cooney-Cross provides that in spades.

Hopkins noted that he felt his side was close to being able to “put a lot of goals past teams” and he may have found the key to that objective in this positional change.

Whether or not it comes to fruition long term remains to be seen, but the league should be very, very worried if it does.

Feature Image Credit: Peter Hugg

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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