Melbourne Victory’s unbeaten run has stretched to seven games in the NPLM 3 following a hotly contested 0-0 draw with North Sunshine Eagles on Saturday afternoon.
Victory made the trip to Larissa Reserve to take on another direct rival in the promotion race with the Eagles sitting in 5th place after eight games.
The first half was a cagey affair, with both sides struggling to settle into their usual patterns of play.
North Sunshine brought plenty of intensity with their pressing as they looked to unsettle their young opponents.
Victory’s defence, though, withstood the pressure and denied the home side any clear-cut chances throughout the first 45.
Going forward Victory struggled to create many chances of their own, with North Sunshine effectively breaking up the visitors’ attempts to replicate the free-flowing football Victory fans have been treated to in recent weeks.
Neither side was able to break the deadlock before half-time.
Victory made a bright start to the second 45 as they created a couple of chances within the first minute of the restart.
Although they failed to test Eagles goalkeeper Zaim Zeneli, the improvements in pace and intensity were clear to see.
Victory had plenty to play for in the second half, knowing that a win would lift them to equal-top of the ladder alongside Melbourne City.
The home side though continued to offer stern resistance.
The likes of Will Wilson and Binyam Kebede created several half-chances in and around the area, but ultimately none were converted.
Despite Victory’s improved performance, the second half largely mirrored the first in terms of the lack of clear-cut goal scoring opportunities created by either side.
The game finished level with both teams settling for a point.
Victory’s unbeaten streak has extended for another week, although no doubt there will be a sense of disappointment at the missed opportunity to secure a third straight win.
Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts
On the performance…
“It was a very tough game…however, we probably weren’t at our best today. I thought we were a bit sloppy in the way we used the ball and I don’t think we created the number of chances that we have in past games. But when I look at the performance overall the boys worked very hard and the effort was there until the 90th minute.”
On another clean sheet…
“I think early in the year we conceded too many goals. We have worked pretty hard on our defensive structure and what we do off the ball, and what was pleasing for the last 6 games was that we have complemented some really good football [on the ball] with some great work out of possession.”
On Luka Prso’s injury…
“Luka felt something in his hamstring, and we weren’t prepared to take the risk with [A-League Men’s] finals around the corner. All the boys need to be available for Tony Popovic in the finals series, so I made the early call to take him out and err on the side of caution.”
NPLM 3 Victoria 2022 Round 9
North Sunshine Eagles 0
Melbourne Victory 0
Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Marko Bulic (gk), Zaydan Bello (c), Aaron Anderson, Ryan Lethlean, Jackson Lino, Luka Prso, Birkan Kirdar, Kasper Hallam, Will Wilson, James Paneras, Binyam Kebede
A 6-1 win over North Sunshine extended Victory Under-21’s streak to nine straight wins to start the season.