NPL Report: Victory make it three from three

Melbourne Victory secured a third straight win to begin their NPL campaign on Sunday afternoon, with Jordi Valadon’s late penalty sealing the 2-1 win against Ballarat City.

Team News

Head coach Joe Palatsides made two changes to his starting XI following last week’s win in Doveton, with Ahmad Taleb reclaiming the starting goalkeeper position whilst Noah Spaseski made his first start of the season.


Victory started brightly and appeared to have made the perfect start to the game when the ball ended up in the back of the net after only a handful of minutes played, but the offside flag quickly halted any early celebrations.

Victory though would not have to wait long to take the lead for real, as Austin Ganino fired a sensational right-footed volley from outside the box which thundered into the back of the net just a few minutes later.

A brilliant start for Palatsides’ side who were putting their opponents to the sword in the opening exchanges.

Adem Duratovic almost doubled the lead 10 minutes later after being played through on goal, but the striker narrowly dragged his shot wide of the post.

Ballarat looked most threatening when given opportunities to attack on the counter, but those chances remained relatively rare throughout the first half as Victory controlled the general play.

By the time the half-time whistle arrived, Victory were still 1-0 in front and headed into the sheds hoping for a similarly impressive second half display.

Ballarat though came out firing for the second 45 and were back level after just a few minutes played, when a wonderful solo run resulted in an unsuccessful attempt to clear the ball off the line, instead sending it into the back of the net.

Linus Bourke had been substituted on at half-time in place of Nathan Stamatelos, and Palatsides again went to his bench after an hour played as Kasey Bos and Tommaso Minutoli made their way onto the field.

Chances began to dry up for both sides as the game neared its conclusion, but Victory were handed a lifeline with just over 10 minutes remaining when Ryan Lethlean was brought down by the last defender, resulting in a red card for Ballarat.

Victory saw their opportunity and jumped at it, piling the pressure on the visitors.

The breakthrough would eventually come with only a few minutes remaining in regulation time, as Adem Duratovic’s shot was blocked by a defender’s arm, resulting in a second red card and a penalty being awarded.

Jordi Valadon stepped up and nailed the subsequent spot-kick, taking his side into the lead.

With Ballarat down to nine players, Victory continued to generate chances throughout stoppage time including an excellent solo run and shot from Tommaso Minutoli, but they were unable to add a third despite their best efforts.

Nonetheless, the late penalty was enough to secure another set of three points for Palatsides’ side who extended their perfect start to the campaign to three wins from three.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On the performance:

“I was pretty proud of the boys to turn the game around.”

“We started quite well and then we seemed to lose control of the game for a bit.”

“To Ballarat’s credit they pressed us really well in the second half and got an equaliser.”

“It took a bit of a special effort and a bit of resilience from the boys.”

“To carve out four or five really good opportunities towards the end of the match, and then get rewarded with a penalty for their constant pressure I thought made it a good day in terms of result, but I think from a performance perspective…we were below our best today.”

“That’s something that we’ll look at during the week and hopefully we’ll improve that for next time.”

On Jordi Valadon’s game:

“Yeah it was a good penalty by Jordi.”

“But it wasn’t just the penalty. When the going got a bit tough I thought it was Jordi that really led the way.”

“Jordi in those key moments helped us keep control of the ball and instigate a lot of our attacks.”

“He had a good day for us in the absence of Alex Menelaou, who unfortunately was a late out after he went through the warm-up and didn’t feel 100%.”

On leaving games late:

“I’d like the games to be wrapped up a lot earlier to be perfectly honest.”

“Last year we probably didn’t have that same type of resilience where we could turn games around and really come at teams at the end.”

“This year it’s a bit of a different group and a different dynamic. There’s a strong belief within the team that we’ll win most of our games. Even if things aren’t going our way I still see the boys pushing forward.”

On 3 wins from 3:

“It’s a good start to the year.”

“I don’t think you’re ever 100% ready in the first couple of games of the year.”

“I think we needed this hit out as well.”

“I’m hoping we’ll be cherry-ripe for next week against Essendon Royals.”

Next Up

Victory are back on the road next Saturday 8th April when they head to Cross Keys Reserve to take on Essendon Royals, kicking off at 3:00pm AEST.

NPL3 Victoria 2023 Round 3

Melbourne Victory 2 (Ganino 10′, Valadon (pen) 88′)

Ballarat City 1

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Ahmad Taleb (GK), Josh Inserra, Ryan Lethlean (c), Franco Lino, Adem Duratovic, Jordi Valadon, Timothy Atherinos, Nathan Stamatelos, Austin Ganino, Noah Spaseski, Jack Pope