Melbourne Victory were unable to break down a stubborn Sydney FC defence, falling to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday night.
Nishan Velupillay’s inclusion was the only change head coach Tony Popovic made to his starting XI, taking the place of the injured Jake Brimmer.
Rai Marchan made his return via the bench following an extended absence due to a concussion suffered against Adelaide United almost two months ago.
The game started as a tense affair, with both sides looking most threatening when given opportunities in transition.
The first major chance of the game ended up in the back of the net, as Robert Mak appeared to have given Sydney the lead in the 24th minute.
However, Victory were rescued by the offside flag, which ruled out the goal and ensured the score remained 0-0.
The home side though did not take long to find the back of the net again, as Anthony Caceres fired past Paul Izzo ten minutes later following a dubiously awarded corner.
The goal stood this time around, taking the Sky Blues into a 1-0 lead.
Sydney maintained their lead for the remainder of the half, leaving Victory in need of an improved second 45 showing to get anything from the game.
Popovic’s side nearly found the equaliser a few minutes after the restart, as a Connor Chapman header following a set piece and the follow up shot from Chris Ikonomidis were narrowly kept out by Andrew Redmayne in the Sydney goal.
Fernando Romero was brought onto the pitch just before the hour mark as Victory continued their search for a breakthrough.
Sydney though remained steadfast in defence, ensuring clear-cut chances remained hard to come by.
A triple change saw Bruce Kamau and Will Wilson enter the field of play alongside the returning Rai Marchan in the final ten minutes as Victory continued their hunt for an equaliser.
Popovic’s side was then handed a lifeline as Max Burgess was sent off following a referee consultation in the 84th minute, allowing the visitors an extra player for the rest of the match.
However, there was to be no equaliser for Victory, as they succumbed to a tight 1-0 defeat.
The loss means Victory remain bottom of the table, now nine points outside of the top six.
Isuzu UTE A-League 2022/23 Round 19
Sydney FC 1 (Caceres 35′)
Melbourne Victory 0
Victory return home next weekend for a Labour Day double header on Monday 13th March at AAMI Park. The men’s game kicks off at 6:00pm AEDT.