A second-half stoppage-time goal from Melbourne Knights’ Jason Hicks proved to be Melbourne Victory’s undoing as it suffered a 2-1 PlayStation 4 NPL Victoria loss at Epping Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Knights took a one-goal lead into the break, courtesy of a Joshua Brekalo strike, before Stefan Nigro ushered Victory back into the contest with a composed finish 15 minutes from time.
But Hicks had the final say, thrashing the ball beyond a helpless Lucas Spinella.
Victory looked confident from the outset and pressed its more senior opponents, playing with verve and vigour.
Nigro let off the game’s first shot in anger eight minutes in when the ball fell to his feet just inside the Knights’ penalty area. His quest to place the ball into the corner nearly succeeded, but for the quick reaction of Knights goalkeeper Michael O’Farrell.
Kieran Dover and Joey Katebian each looked to rattle the Knights custodian with shots of their own in the ensuing 15 minutes.
But it was Knights who struck the first blow, when Brekalo poked the ball home from point-blank range.
Victory refused to yield and instead chased the match. Katebian thought he had found the equaliser after he steered the ball into the net, only to be ruled offside.
There were no such problems for Nigro shortly after, with the 19-year-old showing immense composure as he directed his effort into the corner.
John Maclean had a golden opportunity to pinch the points for Victory in the final minutes, but it was Hicks who snapped up his chance, confirming the Knights’ win.
Victory is on the road next week when it faces Pascoe Vale in its next PS4 NPL Victoria match on Friday, May 6.
Earlier, Victory’s under-20 team notched up its second 6-0 win in less than a week with a comprehensive drubbing of Melbourne Knights.
Melbourne Victory 1 (Nigro 73’)
Melbourne Knights 2 (Brekalo 35’, Hicks 90’)
Melbourne Victory 6 (Stanisavljevic 24’, Hidic 62’/66’/78’, Visciglio 72’, Kelic 80’)
Melbourne Knights 0