Melbourne Victory was held to a thrilling 4-4 draw by the St Albans Saints in the NPL2 West at Epping Stadium on Saturday.
Victory held a two-goal lead three times after goals from Nuh Sehavdic, Nicholas Sette, Birkan Kirdar and Thierry Iradukunda.
However, it was pegged back as a Luis Covarrubias brace and strikes from Matthew Cundari and Michael Grgic helped St Albans to a point.
The result marked Victory’s third consecutive draw, with the side unbeaten in four games.
Victory made a bright start and took the lead in the second minute.
Sehavdic, 17, got on the end of an Andrew Visciglio pass and finished past Robert Santilli to give the host a 1-0 advantage.
Victory continued to push and it doubled its lead after 21 minutes.
Sehavdic put Yazid Said in down the left and the winger squared to 17-year-old Sette, who calmly put away his second goal of the season.
Victory goalkeeper Matthew Sutton was forced into two good saves during the half, while Sehavdic rattled the crossbar in the 35th minute.
St Albans pulled a goal back in the 57th minute as Covarrubias volleyed in from inside the area after a long throw from the left.
However, Victory restored its two-goal advantage 10 minutes later.
Kirdar, 16, received a pass with his back to goal and turned before firing stunningly into the top corner.
Cundari struck for St Albans in the 81st minute before Victory restored its two-goal lead again, Iradukunda finishing clinically after a Sehavdic pass on the counter-attack.
But Grgic headed in a corner for the visitor before it equalised, Covarrubias scrambling in his second in additional time.
Head coach Gareth Naven
“It was a good game as in goals – eight goals – but not very good defensively. I thought we collapsed a bit. I thought the effort in the first half, I asked the boys to really think about was it appropriate considering the last four rounds – and I thought it was an improved effort in regards to the majority of the players. But some players are good working forward, but some other players aren’t that good working back and I think that cost us today, small moments where we have players who don’t work back and pass that situational buck to our defensive line or screens and it causes us problems.
“I thought it was good learning curve for us today because I thought they were a bit intimidating for our players and fair play to our boys, they stood up to them. The young boys are standing up for themselves, we’re in the competition and it’s men’s football. I thought we could manage the rhythm of the match, understand when they’re dominating and how to control that domination. Sometimes we’re a bit naïve and try and play through things when we just don’t need to do that. We can put balls into areas where we can turn them around and there’s nothing wrong with that, that’s men’s football, that’s being smart, that’s playing the right football at the right moment.
“The biggest thing is at times in defensive situations, we didn’t do the right thing. All of a sudden it was like a domino, all of a sudden balls get crossed, all of a sudden people are out of position and all of a sudden the ball is in the back of the net. The only way we can perform week in, week out is if all 11 players play their role and today at times we failed that.”
Victory’s under-20s went down 4-2 to the St Albans Saints.
NPL2 West 2018 Round 5
Melbourne Victory 4 (Nuh Sehavdic 2′, Nicholas Sette 21′, Birkan Kirdar 67′, Thierry Iradukunda 88′)
St Albans Saints 4 (Luis Covarrubias 57’/90+1′, Matthew Cundari 81′, Michael Grgic 90′)
Melbourne Victory: Matthew Sutton; Andrew Visciglio, Benjamin Carrigan, Maker Maker, Jonathan Vakirtzis (c); Thierry Iradukunda, Nicholas Hatzigeorgiou (Brady Quinn); Nicholas Sette (Aaron Anderson), Birkan Kirdar, Yazid Said (Jack Palazzolo); Nuh Sehavdic.
Victory makes the trip to Ballarat City on Saturday, March 24, in Round 6.