NPL Report: Victory 0-1 Preston Lions

Melbourne Victory fell just short in their crucial clash with Preston Lions on Saturday afternoon, losing 1-0 despite a strong finish to the contest.

Team News

Head coach Joe Palatsides made plenty of changes to the starting XI following last week’s draw with Doveton. Zaydan Bello, Edmond Lupancu, Luka Prso, Will Wilson and Patrick Hogan all made their return to the lineup.


A substantial crowd gathered at Epping Stadium for a match with huge significance for the NPLM 3 promotion race.

The game did not take long to burst into life, with an early chance falling to Preston after Victory gave the ball away deep in their own half.

Victory goalkeeper Christian Siciliano did just enough to keep the shot out, thanks in part to the assistance of the crossbar.

Victory responded with a couple of their own set-piece chances, although it was Preston who controlled most of the territory in the early phase of the game.

Siciliano made several key saves throughout the first half to keep Victory level despite the substantial pressure being applied by the visitors.

Victory looked at their most dangerous when hitting on the counter, with Hogan regularly providing an outlet on the left wing.

Preston though would eventually find the breakthrough goal thanks to Chris Davies, who showed great composure to slide the ball past Siciliano having been played through in the box.

The goal came just a few minutes before half-time and ensured Preston headed into the break with the lead.

Victory made an early move in the second half, bringing on Nicholas Hamakiotis to replace forward Adem Duratovic whilst Binyam Kebede reverted to the central striker position.

The change seemed to have a positive effect, as Victory were able to control more of the territory and possession in the second 45.

Preston though continued to look dangerous on the counter with Victory being forced to commit bodies forward. Connor Bell nearly doubled Preston’s lead but his shot rocketed off the post.

Nonetheless, Victory looked increasingly dangerous as the second half progressed, especially through the returning Wilson who created several chances despite Preston’s attempts to close him down whenever he received the ball.

Victory’s hunt for a way back into the match continued for the duration of the second half.

Hogan came as close as anyone in the final minutes of the game when the ball fell to his feet following a corner, but he was unable to steer his shot past the goalkeeper.

Ultimately, Preston’s defence proved too solid with Victory unable to find the equalising goal.

A disappointing setback in such a crucial game, although Victory will need to rebound quickly for another important contest next weekend against Western United.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On the performance…

“It was a tough game against a good team. We had patches in the first half where we lost our way a bit in terms of trying to keep the ball and that probably gave them a slight edge in the first half and eventually they got the goal…I thought we had the better of the second half, we created a couple of chances. But in tight games like this it’s more about who takes the best opportunities and is a bit more clinical in what they do, which was probably them.”

On coming up against a strong defence...

“We were pretty comfortable with the way our game model is that we would be able to create chances, which we did. We had some really clear-cut chances and we thought that if we put one away then maybe the contest would go more in our favour”

On the return of key personnel…

“Obviously all of the boys who have a bit more experience it’s always good to get some of those boys back for a big game. Of course, they’re lacking some fitness because they’ve only just come back into training so we knew they wouldn’t last too long…overall I thought the boys, for their first game back in a while, did quite well.”

Next Up

Another major test awaits Victory as they welcome Western United to Epping Stadium on Saturday 16 July at 3:00pm AEST.

NPLM 3 Victoria 2022 Round 17

Melbourne Victory 0

Preston Lions 1 (Davies 41′)

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Christian Siciliano (gk), Zaydan Bello, Ryan Lethlean, Edmond Lupancu, Franco Lino, Luka Prso, Alexander Tsimopoulos, Will Wilson, Patrick Hogan, Binyam Kebede, Adem Duratovic


Victory secured a remarkable 17th straight win this season with a 4-0 success against Preston.