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Apr 30, 2023   |  6:54PM AET

NPL Report: Victory secure vital win in promotion race

NPL Report: Victory secure vital win in promotion race

Melbourne Victory returned to winning ways on Sunday afternoon, overcoming North Sunshine Eagles in a thrilling top of the table clash which finished 3-2.

Team News

Head coach Joe Palatsides made two changes to his XI, with Josh Inserra returning to the lineup whilst Marc Latsis made his first start of the season.

Summary

Victory came out firing at Epping Stadium, threatening the North Sunshine goal a number of times in the first few minutes.

Despite Victory’s strong start, it was the Eagles that would land the first major blow.

A penalty was awarded after 10 minutes played, with Ryan Lethlean deemed to have handled the ball in the penalty area.

The spot kick was duly converted, handing the visitors an early lead.

Victory though bounced back quickly and in sensational style, scoring twice in quick succession just 15 minutes later.

First Alex Menelaou stepped up to the plate, firing a sensational strike from the edge of the area which rocketed past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Only a couple of minutes later Victory were charging forward again, this time on a counter-attack led by Austin Ganino and clinically finished by Tim Atherinos.

Victory had turned the scoreline on its head and looked to have regained control of the contest.

North Sunshine though found a quick response of their own, first forcing a brilliant save from Ahmad Taleb before bundling home their second of the afternoon, tying the scores at 2-2.

The game remained level up to the half-time break, with everything still to play for in the second 45.

Victory again began the half brightly, reclaiming the lead just over five minutes after the restart.

Will Wilson was the scorer, executing a clinical finish having been on the receiving end of a lofted free kick into the penalty area.

The second half continued to deliver in terms of chaos, with North Sunshine hitting the post on the hour mark before Franco Lino was shown a second yellow card a few minutes later, reducing Victory to 10 players for the remainder of the match.

Matt Bozinovski, Eli Adams, Kasey Bos and Tommaso Minutoli were all introduced off the bench as the second half progressed, with Victory being forced to defend their lead with a numerical disadvantage.

The final stages of the game were played almost exclusively in Victory’s half, as Palatsides’ side attempted to see out the game.

The likes of Lethlean and Bozinovski defended valiantly, repelling the barrage of North Sunshine attacks and helping their team hold on for a massive result.

The win was Victory’s sixth in seven games this season, sweetened even further by coming against one of their main promotion rivals.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On the performance:

“Definitely happy.”

“This week we wanted to work hard in terms of getting back to our style of play where we can control possession and control the game. I thought the boys did that really well today.”

“In particular the first half I thought we controlled it and created a lot of chances.”

“We got punished for a few mistakes as well.”

“It was a really entertaining game between the top two teams as well as a tight battle, but I think we deserved the win.”

On the atmosphere:

“I think the intensity was great for both sets of fans.”

“There’s the excitement before the game knowing it’s the top two teams at the moment.”

“It was a great atmosphere and there was also some tension.”

“But it all made for a great game.”

“For us to get on top in this kind of game, we’re really pleased.”

On the defensive showing:

“We were a bit disappointed with the two goals that we conceded…we don’t want to concede ‘soft’ goals.”

“But we knew they would be a threatening team.”

“When we were down to ten men it was about showing that we had learned our lesson from previous games by being structurally sound and keeping the work ethic high.”

On Alex Menelaou getting on the scoresheet:

“I think Alex had a great game all around.”

“We spoke about it during the week how we wanted him to make an impact in the front third.”

“He contributed really well to our defensive structure too.”

Next Up

Victory head to Mahoneys Reserve next Saturday 6th May for another crucial game against Nunawading City, kicking off at 3:00pm AEST.

NPL3 Victoria 2023 Round 7

Melbourne Victory 3 (Menelaou 26′, Atherinos 28′, Wilson 53′)

North Sunshine Eagles 2

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Ahmad Taleb (GK), Josh Inserra, Ryan Lethlean (c), Franco Lino, Alex Menelaou, Adem Duratovic, Tim Atherinos, Austin Ganino, Noah Spaseski, Marc Latsis, Will Wilson