VPL Report: Victory return to winners’ list

Melbourne Victory claimed a huge three points for their title charge on Sunday afternoon, edging past Werribee City 2-0 at JL Murphy Reserve.


Both sides came into the contest in desperate need of a positive result, with the season nearing its conclusion and both teams needing more points to achieve their respective goals.

The start to the game was consequently tight, with little space being afforded to any player on the ball.

Both teams had early chances, but it was Victory who were the first capitalise on one of their opportunities.

A nice piece of build-up play ended at the feet of Adem Duratović, who fired home from the edge of the penalty area after 22 minutes played.

The striker’s tenth goal of the season, which put Victory in a strong position early in the contest.

Victory took firm control of the general play following the opener, as they continued to threaten in search of a second goal.

However, Werribee held firm for the remainder of the half, with Duratović’s strike the only goal of a hard-fought first 45.

Victory came desperately close to doubling their lead early in the second stanza, when a cross from the right wing found its way to the far post, but Jesse Hoey’s strike was barely deflected off-target.

Austin Ganino also came close, but the second goal continued to elude Victory.

Will McIntosh was introduced to the contest just after the hour mark, replacing Dimi Palatsides, as Victory edged closer to what would be a massive three points.

Duratović almost had his second but hit the post, as Joe Palatsides turned to his bench again with the game nearing its conclusion, bringing Jordan Hoey and Marc Petheriotis into the game.

Daniel Graskoski played his role in the Victory effort, making several key contributions as Werribee’s hunt for an equaliser became more desperate.

Zack Puhalovich and Alexander Kapaklis were introduced for the final few minutes, as Victory looked to see out the remainder of the contest.

The finishing touch came deep in stoppage time, as some clever build-up between Jesse and Jordan Hoey created the chance for Petheriotis, who finished with aplomb to wrap up the three points.

A vital win which ensures Victory maintain their four point lead on top of the VPL1 ladder.

Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ post-match thoughts

On the new influx of players…

“There’s always that period of the year when we lose a lot of the A-League scholars.”

“We always know this time of the year is coming. It’s a great opportunity for the next wave of young talent coming through to really stand up and take responsibility.”

“This week I thought it was a really good performance where we dominated the game.”

“The boys are growing with each and every game.”

“I was really pleased with the way we played, I thought from the first whistle we dominated.”

On dealing with raised expectations and opposition…

“It’s a higher division and it’s a division where we’ve got teams pursuing us and trying to knock us off.”

“If you’re just playing at a higher level then you’re trying to improve each week, but the pressure of trying to win each week, to win a championship, is something you don’t get exposed to very often.”

“It’s added pressure. I thought they handled it with aplomb today.”

On the final stages of the season…

“The boys are pretty excited.”

“All of these boys who have been a part of the group all year, now they’re getting their opportunities.”

“I think they’re chomping at the bit to show the quality they have coming through.”

Next Up

Victory are back in action next Friday night, when they travel to Dunstan Reserve to take on Brunswick City, kicking off at 8:30pm AEST.

VPL1 2024 Round 21

Melbourne Victory 2 (Duratović 23′, Petheriotis 90+4′)

Werribee City 0

Melbourne Victory U23s starting XI: Daniel Graskoski (GK), Dimi Palatsides, Nikolas Čevizović, Damien Bozinovski, George Karvounis, Kayne Razmovski, Jack Mihailidis, Adem Duratović (c), Jesse Hoey, Austin Ganino, Tommaso Minutoli