In the NPL 1 East top-of-the-table clash on Friday night, Richmond Soccer Club prevailed with a 4-0 win over Melbourne Victory in a one-sided contest at Kevin Bartlett Reserve.
The win by second-placed Richmond bridged the gap between first and second on the ladder to just three points.
It was a case of opportunity lost as a win to Melbourne Victory would have extended its advantage to nine points with just four rounds to go.
A fast-paced start to the first half saw chances for both sides, which was to be expected in this contest between the two talented outfits.
It didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead with a header by Josh Valadon finding the corner of the net early in the fifth minute.
The goal proved to be an opener for what would be a first half full of goalmouth action for the home side.
Melbourne Victory had a chance to get back in the game, responding shortly after with a solid strike by John Maclean, which flew just wide of the mark.
Richmond’s Alexander Caniglia proved dangerous early with a powerful strike to try and secure their second goal just 10 minutes after the opener. But Wyatt Chant was up for the challenge and the strike was comfortably saved by the Victory goalkeeper.
In the 18th minute, Richmond looked sure to extend its lead as a turnover by Victory’s Milos Ridesic meant that Hamlet Armenian took possession and found space in the box, but his low-centred pass was well wide of his teammate allowing for Melbourne Victory to win possession back.
A late challenge on Richmond’s Andrew Goff saw the first yellow card of the match handed to Christian Cavallo.
At 26 minutes, Richmond extended their lead to 2-0 after a defensive mishap by Victory that allowed Caniglia to slam the ball past Chant into the corner of the net.
The start of the second half in comparison to the first was fairly lacklustre.
Although Victory followed the break with more intent, it was Richmond that had the only genuine chances for the opening 10 minutes of the half.
One of those came in the 56th minute for Richmond when a free-kick was awarded to Tom Cahill on the right and was put in by Caniglia, increasing their lead to 3-0.
In the 76th minute, Cahill put the ball in the back of the net for Richmond’s fourth, however he was called offside and the goal was disallowed.
Despite a number of counterattacks by Victory, they were unable to convert these into shots on target during the second half.
As the game came to a close, Richmond’s Michael Catalano added his name to the scoresheet by scoring a fourth goal in the 87th minute.
Melbourne Victory coach Darren Davies congratulated Richmond on their win and a well-fought match.
“We conceded a couple of set pieces and they won the battles all over the park,” Davies said.
“We found it difficult to get into our rhythm tonight.”
With Victory set to play Kingston City, who sit third on the ladder, next week, Davies said the pressure that was felt tonight will be taken as a lesson for the boys.
“Tonight was a learning curve for them individually and collectively. Part of their learning is to play in pressure situations and tonight was a great experience for that,” Davies said.
“The more times they get exposed to pressure situations, the more they will benefit in the future.”
Richmond SC 4 (Valadon 5, 57′, Caniglia 26’, Catalano 87’)
Melbourne Victory 0
Richmond SC: 1.Christian ROSSI, 2.Andrew GOFF, 23.Joshua VALADON, 18.Jordan SEETO, 11.Liam FLYNN (8.Joshua KNIGHT 76′), 6.Peter SAWAN, 17.Samuel CATHERINE, 7.Hamlet ARMENIAN (15.Jay KELLY 70′), 10.Alex CANIGLIA (12.Matthew WATERS 82′), 9.Tom CAHILL
Unused substitutes: 20.Chris DAVIS, 14.Mate ETEROVIC
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 1.Wyatt CHANT, 18.Christian CAVALLO, 5.Damien MISKULIN (19.Nick GLAVAN 62′), 3.Milos RIDESIC, 2.Reece CALDECOURT (13.Lucas DERRICK 46′), 6.Stefan NIGRO, 8.Anthony DUZEL, 14.Jordan BROWN (16.Patrice AVICE 68′), 17.Pierce WARING, 9.Joey KATEBIAN, 11.John MACLEAN
Unused substitutes: 10.James XYDIAS, 20.Andre JANNESE
Yellow cards: Cavallo 23′, Miskulin 56′
Red cards: Nil