Melbourne Victory suffered a 1-0 loss to Whittlesea Ranges in the NPL2 West on Sunday.
Despite appearing in control for long periods at Epping Stadium, Victory went down to a second-half penalty from Jose Ramires.
Victory had plenty of possession, but it was unable to find a breakthrough as it slipped to a narrow loss.
Victory went close in the 14th minute, Jay Barnett firing wide from just outside the area after a fine passing move.
There were few clear-cut chances in the first half, although Victory looked the more dangerous of the two teams.
Aydin Mustedanagic curled an effort wide from inside the area in the 34th minute, the left-back having made a strong run through the middle before receiving a cross from Nuh Sehavdic.
However, Whittlesea took the lead early in the second half, Ramires converting a penalty to make it 1-0.
Victory pushed for an equaliser and Stefan Ristic almost struck just after the hour-mark, but the attacker’s final touch let him down under pressure having been played in behind.
Just five minutes later and Victory goalkeeper Branko Skocic was called into action, keeping out a strike from Lawrence Shuruma.
Victory tested Whittlesea goalkeeper Stefan Rankovic in the 74th minute, Sehavdic’s powerful strike from an angle saved after the forward was played in by Ristic.
Despite a late push, Victory was unable to find an equaliser as Whittlesea held on.
Head coach Gareth Naven’s post-match thoughts
“The match plan that we tried to put in place in regards to playing against Whittlesea and exploit them sort of left and right of their three centre-backs worked at times, I just thought we could’ve made more forward runs and when we made forward runs into the areas on the outside of the channel we caused them problems. I’d like to have thought we could’ve done that more often. We had a lot of ball, had a lot of possession. We need to stop playing the ball into people if they can’t use it and they’re surrounded by players. Playing a ball so a player can use it is very important and that comes down to better decision making and if we can continually get into position earlier we’ll obviously get more reward.
“I suppose the other thing is you’ve got to speed up quicker when you’ve got an opportunity on the change to take their opposition inside their own area, you can’t wait for the opposition to shuffle across and get cover in place so we needed more risk and quicker risk at times when the ball came in the wide area. Dangerous switch of play at times from centre-back to full-back, we probably needed to pass into our midfield before we went on the change to the full-back. I definitely thought the attitude was there, the effort, the focus, the intensity.
“A penalty, in my opinion I’m not too sure whether it was a penalty or not. I’m far away so I’ll look on the video, but the referee has made that decision. When players are running into our penalty box, it’s a more cautious approach rather than an ambition approach. The only intensions a forward runner has if it’s running out of play is milk something from it – a corner, a mistimed tackle, those sorts of things so should’ve probably just run alongside him. I thought we needed to get more out of the game than we did with the amount of possession we’re having so I just thought it was not a disappointing performance, but a performance that didn’t give you anything.”
NPL2 West 2019 Round 22
Melbourne Victory 0
Whittlesea Ranges 1 (Jose Ramires 52′ pen)
Melbourne Victory: Branko Skocic (gk) (c); Andrew Visciglio (Yazid Said), Matthew Bozinovski, Aaron Anderson, Aydin Mustedanagic; Jay Barnett, Anthony Lesiotis; Brandon Lauton, Birkan Kirdar, Stefan Ristic (Daniel Aye); Nuh Sehavdic.
Victory’s under-20s bounced back to winning ways by beating Whittlesea Ranges 5-0.