A brave Melbourne Victory suffered a 3-2 loss to Moreland City in the PlayStation 4 NPL2 West on Saturday.
Goals from Nuh Sehavdic and Nicholas Sette put Victory ahead before Moreland fought back in what was a scrappy Round 20 encounter.
Trent Rixon headed in prior to half-time and the host struck twice immediately after the break through Matthew Reid and Jay Kelly.
Despite the result, Victory head coach Gareth Naven was pleased with his team’s performance at Campbell Reserve.
“I thought our boys were really good,” he said.
“I’m saying to the group it’s a game when you’ve got to understand, depending on the conditions of the pitch and the conditions of the opposition, when do you get a benefit from playing, when do you get a benefit from possibly going a little bit direct, how do you handle the opposition in regards to the contest and what the pitch throws at you because it was fairly bobbly, and how to deal with that.
“The pitch conditions would tell you have you got time on the ball or no time on the ball.
“I thought as a group I was happy with them. They’re doing their best and certainly getting practice in dealing with crosses, long balls and aerial battles and one v ones, more than usual today.
“I thought I’d like to see us play this team on Epping, on a flat surface, but every week is different.
“I was quite happy with the way they took on board what we tried to do, some stuff we did during the week in regards to crosses, defensive organisation and attacking organisation.
“Our average age out there is 16 years old. It’s a young Melbourne Victory senior team who’ve got the ability to be together for a period of time, to get better and get ready for the Hyundai A-League.”
After a scrappy start, the host went close when Tyler James’ stunning volley hit the crossbar from distance.
But Victory took the lead just before the half-hour mark through Sehavdic, who lobbed onrushing goalkeeper Kieran McDowell after getting on the end of an Aaron Anderson pass.
Stephen Hatzikourtis made a good save diving to his right to deny Rixon before Victory went 2-0 up.
Brandon Lauton, moved to right-back after a reshuffle following an injury to Joshua Kelic, crossed to the back post, where Sette took a touch before firing brilliantly into the roof of the net.
But the host pulled a goal back before the break, Rixon rising highest to head in a cross from the left.
Moreland struck twice to start the second half through Reid and Kelly.
Reid headed in a set-piece at the back post to draw his side level before Kelly tapped in a cross to make it 3-2.
Earlier, Victory’s under-20s came from behind to claim a 3-1 win over Moreland City.
Victory is back at home in Round 21, hosting Springvale White Eagles at Epping Stadium on Saturday, July 1.
PlayStation 4 NPL2 West 2017 Round 20
Moreland City 3 (Trent Rixon 45+1′, Matthew Reid 47′, Jay Kelly 51′)
Melbourne Victory 2 (Nuh Sehavdic 28′, Nicholas Sette 44′)