Melbourne Victory won its 15th NPL game for the season on the weekend after beating St Albans Saints 2-1 at Churchill Reserve.
Victory began the contest with commanding intentions out from the back.
Five minutes in and most of the possession went in Victory’s favour, dictating much of the passing, looking to unlock gaps in the middle of the park.
Tedros Yabio did get a break for St Albans on the left hand wing and fired on target to bring Wyatt Chant into action.
On 11 minutes Dion Paola had a clear chance after quick, slick passing but Saints goalkeeper Stuart Webster made a solid save for the Saints.
Several shots from long range by both Paola and Pierce Waring sparked their team and created danger in the front third although not troubling Webster.
Just before the half hour against the run of play, Barry Devlin found himself on the end of a long ball which caught Chant napping and only needed another easy tap-in to open the scoring.
Victory captain Joey Katebian found himself on the end of an inch-perfect pass just before the break, but could only produce a shot that went inches away from goal.
The second period commenced in a more lively fashion for both sides and it got physical as well.
Maclean finished a decent cross by Waring that left Webster in trouble to make it 1-1.
Damien Miskulin made it two for Melbourne Victory when he got on the end of a cross for a flick header that left Webster and his defender napping in no mans land.
The last thirty miniutes looked to have the scores tied with Kovacevic pushing Devlin upfront with Ross Harvey accompanying McGuffie in the backline and cover.
Yabio had another good chance in the 75th minute when opting to place the ball in the top corner but Chant had his goal covered.
McGuffie missed perhaps the best the chance all afternoon for the Saints to equalise, as he was in a good position coming off an indirect free kick, leaving Chant hapless as his tap-in went wide, much to the frustration and disbelief on the bench, his teammates and fans.
Anthony Duzel on the other end couldn’t believe his luck either when he broke the offside trap with Katebian also charging in, only to find himself in a one-on-one situation that brought the very best of Webster yet again.
Ross Harvey then got his marching orders on 80 minutes for a violent tackle with a straight red.
The last five minutes saw more violent conduct with Daniel Sweeney also getting sent off.
A brilliant double save again by Webster catapulted his determination and leadership role for the Saints, fighting just as hard despite the unfavourable scoreline.
Melbourne Victory coach Darren Davies spoke after the game and gave credit to the opposition.
“It was difficult circumstances, in fairness to St Albans they made an immense effort this afternoon,” Davies said.
“It was a hostile environment and it was difficult for us to come away with three points however, in fairness to our boys, we matched them in intensity.
“We got the ball up in their half and I think respectfully we got a justified result.
“It was important today that the boys kept their cool, things got tough, physical and we needed to show discipline.
“It was important to not get distracted and lost the plot. Hopefully these players can continue this learning experience wherever they play in the development of their football careers.”
Melbourne Victory 2 (Maclean 50′, Miskulin 55′)
St Albans Saints 1 (Devlin 29′)