A double from Noah Spaseski has seen Melbourne Victory return to their winning ways in the NPL3 competition, defeating Box Hill United 2-1.
Head coach Joe Palatsides made two changes from last week’s matchup against Essendon, bringing Kayne Razmovski and captain Ryan Lethlean back into the starting XI in place of Joshua Inserra and Jordi Valadon.
Victory came into the match-up against Box Hill United looking to make amends after sharing the points in their last outing.
Victory dominated possession early in the match, looking to find the right options through the midfield and building up the play from defence.
The 30th minute saw the first clear cut chance for either side to make a break at goal, with Box Hill managing to put the ball in a dangerous position inside the Victory box.
A powerful strike from Box Hill went to Christian Siciliano’s left, who produced an outstanding effort to dive and deny the opener for the opposition.
Just a minute later, Victory found themselves with their first genuine attempt at goal after Adem Duratovic centered the ball to George Karvounis, who just couldn’t put his effort past the Box Hill keeper.
It took just over 10 minutes after Karvounis’ effort for Victory to gain the reward for their effort.
After defending strongly around the goal mouth, a quick burst down the right wing saw a cross in to Noah Spaseski, who thumped his header into the back of the net and opened the scoring for the home side.
The goal proved to be the only one before half-time, with Victory going into the break full of confidence after capitalising on some much improved attack at the end of the half.
It only took five minutes after the break for Victory to add to their advantage, with Spaseski providing the damage once again.
Austin Ganino was able to cross the ball to Spaseski’s feet at close-range, who smashed the ball past the keeper and doubled Victory’s advantage.
After extending their lead, Victory were forced to defend ruggedly against a number of Box Hill attacks, managing to keep the ball out of their goal and hold firm.
Victory’s first substitution for the match came in the 70th minute, with George Karvounis making way for Timothy Atherinos.
Being forced to defend for a considerable amount of the second half, a sliding pass through Victory’s defence saw Box Hill pull a goal back in the 82nd minute.
A dramatic conclusion was set to follow the Box Hill goal, with chances from both sides in the final eight minutes plus six added minutes.
Spaseski had the chance to claim a hat-trick late in the game but was denied down low by the keeper.
The referee blew for full-time with Victory claiming the three points and getting back on the winners list on top of the NPL3 table.
Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts
On the performance:
“I thought we controlled the game in the first half and were probably a bit unfortunate to only be 1-0 up (at half-time).”
“We created quite a few chances. We had a goal disallowed, I think we had one hit the crossbar, so I thought we played quite well and deserved a handy lead.”
“We started off the second half well and then half way through we came under a bit of pressure from Box Hill which is something we expected.”
“Despite their spot on the ladder, they’re a good team and they were going to create a lot of difficulties. Fortunately we held on and defended really well and we were unlucky to not put another one or two (goals) away.”
“At the end of the day… It’s another three points and we consolidate our spot on top of the ladder and it was backed up by another really good team performance.”
On responding to last week:
“It was a good response by the boys.”
“I was really pleased by the way they went about things.”
“Obviously we were disappointed last week that we didn’t come away with the whole three points but I thought this week we started off a lot better than we did the previous week.”
On the defensive effort:
“I thought that goal we conceded was a bit sloppy and a bit fortunate on their behalf.”
“We had a really good week on the training track with our defensive work and we reviewed a few things that we haven’t done as well.”
“I thought the boys executed what we wanted to do this week really really well and I think that was lead by Ryan Lethlean, our captain, who organised the whole team really well.”
“Of course the defence also relies on the rest of the team to make sure there’s enough pressure on the ball carriers further up the pitch.”
“Even though the back four and the goalkeeper get a lot of credit for that, at the end of the day it was a team performance.”
On Spaseski’s brace:
“It’s good to see Noah (Spaseski) getting on the scoresheet.”
“He’s had a really good year in terms of scoring and creating chances so he’s done really well.”
“The fact he is getting himself into really good positions to score is a bonus and both Austin (Ganino) and George Karvounis out wide had the supply coming in quite regularly.”
“If those runs are made as Noah and Adem (Duratovic) has been making them, we’re not really worried who scores. As long as we’re on the end of some very good passages of play which is what happened today.”
Victory return to Epping Stadium on Sunday the 9th of July, taking on Caroline Springs George Cross FC from 3pm AEST.
NPL3 Victoria 2023 Round 16
Melbourne Victory 2 (Spaseski 42′, 50′)
Box Hill United 1
Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Christian Siciliano (GK), Ryan Lethlean (c), Kasey Bos, Alex Menelaou, Adem Duratovic, Kayne Razmovski, Austin Ganino, Noah Spaseski, Marc Latsis, George Karvounis, Damien Bozinovski