An excellent Melbourne Victory performance helped secure a 2-0 win over league-leaders Melbourne City on Saturday afternoon in the NPLM 3.
Head Coach Joe Palatsides was forced to make use of the Victory squad depth with those involved in the senior men’s squad enjoying a rest period. Patrick Hogan made a surprise start at full-back with Will Wilson taking on the captain’s armband.
Despite the cold and wet conditions, Victory started the game with a fiery intensity.
Seeking to avenge their loss to City at the start of the season, the home side showed attacking intent from the beginning, consistently pouncing on defensive errors to create chances.
The fast start was rewarded with an early goal.
Binyam Kebede found himself in possession on the right wing and delivered an excellent cross into the penalty area where Adem Duratovic volleyed home the opener.
A well-executed move leading to a well-deserved goal early in the contest.
Wilson came into the game off the back of a successful week having signed his first professional contract with Victory.
Now wearing the armband, Wilson was central to the majority of Victory’s attacking play, consistently pressing high and creating opportunities for his fellow attackers.
The remainder of the first half was evenly matched, with both sides enjoying periods of control.
However, neither side could find the back of the net, allowing Victory to head into the break with a slender 1-0 advantage.
The game did not take long to spark back into life in the second half, with Victory doubling their lead in the first minute.
A poor giveaway from the City defence allowed Duratovic to collect possession and execute a simple finish from inside the penalty area.
Victory now held a firm grasp on the contest with all of the pressure on City to work their way back into the game.
Palatsides’ side were content to sit back and create chances on the counter-attack having secured the two-goal buffer.
Victory goalkeeper Christian Siciliano was forced make his way off the pitch on the hour mark having picked up a knock, creating the opportunity for James Siekris to take his position.
Both Siekris and the Victory defence were put under increasing pressure as City became more desperate for a route back into the game.
The defence stood firm though, dealing comfortably with everything thrown their way.
Victory soon had their reward for an excellent performance, with the referee’s whistle bringing an end to the contest.
A critical three points in the NPLM 3 promotion race, with Victory now sitting just two points behind City at the top.
Head coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts
On the performance…
“I was really pleased. There were a lot of players in the team who haven’t played many minutes recently and they really had to step up and be disciplined and work hard. I thought the boys that came in did a great job and the boys who have played over a period of time really took the lead as well.”
On adjusting to the loss of key players…
“It was a lot more difficult than what it seemed. Obviously our back four was pretty much new…Paddy Hogan played his first game for the seniors in nearly two years, he’s been building up after injury…it was good to see all of those boys really making a difference. But it wasn’t just about individuals it was more about the team and the way they wanted to work together.”
On Adem Duratovic’s two-goal performance…
“Adem has had to wait for a long period of time. We always knew Adem was a really good goalscorer…I have to praise Adem for his attitude and his work ethic over this period of time and over the last two or three weeks he has shown some really good qualities as a striker.”
Victory face Box Hill United next Friday 17 June at 7.30pm AEST at Wembley Park.
NPLM 3 Victoria 2022 Round 12
Melbourne Victory 2 (Duratovic 11′, 46′)
Melbourne City 0
Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Christian Siciliano (gk), Patrick Hogan, Ryan Lethlean, Jackson Lino, Franco Lino, Anthony Leban, Luka Prso, James Paneras, Will Wilson, Binyam Kebede, Adem Duratovic
Victory secured another win against City with a 3-2 success in the U21s.