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City do it tough in opening W-League win

AAP logoAAP 6/11/2016 Pete Smith

All-conquering W-League champions Melbourne City needed a lone early goal from Marianna Tabain to edge Newcastle Jets and begin their title defence with a win on Sunday.

City went through undefeated enroute to a grand final victory last season, but the hard-fought nature of their 1-0 win suggests 2016/16 will be tightly fought.

Indeed City had new recruit Lydia Williams to thank as the Matildas goalkeeper made several key blocks, including one late remarkable save from Emma Stanbury.

Free-scoring City averaged over three goals a game last season, and it seemed they were on their way again when Lauren Barnes crossed for Tabain to head home on just eight minutes.

But the holders, now without superstar names Lisa De Vanna and Scotland international Kim Little, lacked fluency in their opening outing against the well-organised Jets.

Things are looking up for City's cross-town rivals as Natasha Dowie scored a double for Melbourne Victory, who came from behind on three occasions to share the spoils in a six-goal thriller at Adelaide United.

The England forward, niece of former Premier League striker Iain Dowie, was a constant danger to the United defence and her combination with American midfielder Christine Nairn was a highlight for a side seeking to bounce back from last season's wooden-spoon showing.

United defender Monica, the first Brazilian to play in the W-League, had given the home side what appeared to be the win with a debut goal midway through the second half.

However, former Matildas midfielder Selin Kuralay made a dramatic entry with a late equaliser.

Playing in her first match after a year's injury absence, substitute Kuralay fired home a spectacular equaliser just minutes into her return.

Saturday's lone match saw a Katrina Gorry-inspired Brisbane Roar earn a comeback win over championship contenders Sydney FC.

Gorry set up an equaliser for substitute Allira Toby, before hitting a long-range winner on what was a disastrous first-up outing for Sydney, who had star recruit Caitlin Foord sent off in the final minutes.

The meeting of the traditional W-League heavyweights attracted 3,105 spectators to Spencer Park - a competition record attendance for a regular-season stand-alone fixture.

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