WWL Preview: Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets

Though we are just at the halfway point of the Westfield W-League season this match-up is shaping as crucial to the finals hopes of both teams.

Melbourne Victory v Newcastle Jets Saturday 3 December 2011 Skilled Stadium, Geelong Local kick-off: 3pm Live: ABC TV

Though we are just at the halfway point of the Westfield W-League season this match-up is shaping as crucial to the finals hopes of both teams.

With Canberra United way out in front, and perennial challengers Sydney FC and Brisbane building momentum, it could be that Melbourne Victory and Newcastle are jostling for a remaining finals berth come seasons end.

Aside from the potentially pivotal nature of this match, an intriguing sub-plot will be the return of Jets and Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri to her home state after an abrupt off-season departure from the Victory.

Melbourne are perhaps the unluckiest team in the league having suffered three defeats this season, all by narrow one-goal margins. However they are yet to defeat a team higher on the table and this contest could provide a gauge to their ongoing progress.

At the moment they have their nose in front of the Jets on the table thanks only to goal difference, although the Victory have played a match more. The Victory-s most recent visit to Geelong last season resulted in a 1-0 win over Canberra with the three points going a long way towards the club achieving their maiden final appearance.

The challenge for the Jets going into the match will be to not only recover from two hefty defeats, but to use last weekend-s free weekend to their advantage. As always the great unknown will be the mood, and subsequent impact, offered by Lisa De Vanna.

Four goals in the opening two rounds for the pacy frontrunner gave way to two muted performances, with the Jets consequently losing altitude with defeats against Sydney FC and Canberra United.