Youth fight back to beat Glory

A late goal from Luke O’Dea has seen Melbourne Victory come from behind to win a thrilling National Youth League clash with Perth Glory 4-3 at 6PR Stadium on Saturday evening.

A late goal from Luke O’Dea has seen Melbourne Victory come from behind to win a thrilling National Youth League clash with Perth Glory 4-3 at 6PR Stadium on Saturday evening.

In a topsy-turvy affair, the visiting Melbourne side stunned Perth with a first-minute goal through David Stirton, before Perth responded through Storm Roux and Harry O’Brien.

Melbourne levelled again through Damir Lokvancic’s quick thinking before Perth went into the break with the advantage as senior striker Branko Jelic scored.

But it was the Victory that claimed the spoils in the second half when Jason Ricciuti and Luke O’Dea helped the visitors claim all three points.

Having been hammered 5-0 by Perth in the season’s opening round, the much-improved Melbourne have now leapfrogged the Glory into second on the National Youth League table.

In a thrilling opening, Perth created the first shot at goal within seconds when Andrija Jukic forced Sebastian Mattei into a smart save before Melbourne took the lead moments later.

The static Glory defence seemed unprepared Melbourne’s quick counter as Stirton ran onto the ball 15 metres out and drilled a composed finish past Alex Pearson.

Perth responded with intent as Jukic sent Roux’s right-wing cross narrowly wide in the fourth minute before Roux levelled the affair two minutes later.

There appeared little danger when the impressive midfielder took the ball 20 metres out. But Roux’s lofted cross-cum-shot held up in the breeze, forcing Victory stopper Mattei to back-track smartly.

And, having taken the ball in his hands, Mattei’s momentum took him over the line and into the back of the net.

Perth youngster Sahr Musa, promoted to the starting line-up for this game, was looking particularly dangerous as he battled it out with Melbourne veteran Matthew Kemp, himself enjoying a solid second game back from a knee reconstruction.

It was more good work by Musa that saw Perth take the lead seventeen minutes in as a scuffed Victory clearance fell perfectly for O’Brien to curl the ball in from just inside the area.

But Melbourne hit back five minutes later, levelling the game when James Kalifatidis nodded a long-range free kick onto the post, the ball rebounding nicely for Lokvancic to score.

Victory almost took the lead again nine minutes from the break as a powerful Stirton strike forced Pearson to palm the ball around the post.

But it was Perth who went into half-time with the lead as Musa raided down the left once again in the 44th minute, the midfielder slipping the ball to Jelic, who nonchalantly flicked it into the back of the net from three metres out.

Perth could have even been further ahead at the break as a diving Mattei did well to beat away a sharp injury-time effort from Jukic, before blocking O’Brien’s follow up shot.

The Glory’s missed chances proved costly as Melbourne levelled the game three minutes after the re-start.

A fast break caught the Perth defence out as Ricciuti burst forward with Perth’s Dean Evans on his hammer. Sensing the danger, Glory goalkeeper Pearson came the other way, smothering the ball at Ricciuti’s feet and taking out Evans at the same time.

However the Melbourne man had done enough to poke the ball from Pearson’s grasp at the last moment and as the goalkeeper looked on from the ground, Ricciuti calmly slotted into an empty net.

On the hour, both sides made three substitutions apiece, with Glory coach Gareth Naven bringing off the dangerous Roux, as Melbourne’s Mehmed Durakovic also took Kemp from the field after he appeared to stretch his knee somewhat.

The changes saw the game’s tempo drop, but it was Perth that enjoyed the better chances as Jelic fired over and Evans sent an effort wide.

But 12 minutes from time, Melbourne took the lead once more, this time in controversial circumstances.

There appeared more than a hint of offside as Anthony Selemidis backheeled the ball towards goal, with O’Dea running onto it and firing truly as the Glory defence looked for a flag that never came.

Glory pressed late for an equaliser as Billy Quinncroft’s strike was blocked by Stephen Hatzikostas, before Jelic fired an injury-time shot directly at substitute Melbourne goalkeeper Rani Dowisha as the visitors held on.

Perth Glory 3 (Roux 6, O’Brien 17, Jelic 44)
Melbourne Victory 4 (Stirton 1, Lokvancic 22, Ricciuti 48, O’Dea 78)