NPL report: Victory 2-1 Box Hill

Melbourne Victory recorded its first win of the NPL 3 Victoria season with a hard-fought 2-1 result over Box Hill United on Saturday.


Victory produced a fine performance on a cold day at Epping Stadium, where Will Wilson gave it the lead in the first half.

Box Hill equalised shortly after the break, but Anthony Leban came off the bench to score a 74th-minute winner to give Victory all three points.

There were early chances at both ends as Andrew Stubley hit the side-netting for the visitor before Kasper Hallam was denied by an excellent save by Box Hill goalkeeper Yianni Skliros in the eighth minute.

Victory did need a good save of its own in the 10th minute, teenage goalkeeper James Siekris denying Jack Palazzolo.

The host went close to an opener six minutes later as Zaydan Bello fired just wide from a James Paneras cutback.

After Siekris made another good stop to keep out Stuart Edgar, Victory took the lead midway through the first half.

Aaron Anderson released Wilson with a long pass and the midfielder made no mistake, lobbing the advancing Skliros.

Victory had chances to go further ahead as Paneras fired wide from 25 yards and Binyam Kebede had an effort ruled out for offside.

Just seven minutes prior to the break and Box Hill nearly levelled, Edgar blazing over from inside the area.

After Siekris made a tremendous save to deny Edgar, Box Hill equalised after a cross from the right was turned in.

Kebede almost restored Victory’s lead after a strong run, but his left-footed strike was pushed away by Skliros.

The forward almost struck just before the hour-mark, hitting the post on the turn after a cross from Bello.

Victory went close again with 19 minutes remaining, Ryan Lethlean’s pass directed onto the post by a Box Hill defender before Kebede was denied by a last-ditch challenge.

But Leban did make it 2-1, heading in a Hallam cross from the right from close range.

That proved to be the winner for Victory, which held firm in the closing stages to take all three points.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

“Even last week, if we take away the score, I thought there were certain elements of our game that the boys had really improved upon. It’s a work in progress as we build towards something a bit more special going forward. We didn’t get the result last week, but I thought this week we combined a bit of good football play with a bit of steel and hardness, which you need to grind out victories. I think at the end Box Hill put us under a bit of pressure and I thought our boys stood up really well so I was really pleased with the effort and that complemented the football they played. When we look at the next phase, we have to be a lot more consistent in the way we play, but I thought it was a really good step forward today that the boys showed a bit of mettle again to complement the football that they played.”


Victory continued its perfect start to the Under-21s season, beating Box Hill 6-0.