The reigning champions Melbourne Victory were back on home turf on Sunday, facing the Central Coast Mariners at AAMI Park. In keeping with the Remembrance Round theme there was a touching tribute for the 100th Anniversary of the signing of the Armistice ending WWI with fans from both teams observing the one-minute silence with great respect.
It did not take long for the home side to stamp their authority on the game when Keisuke Honda had a stunning shot from distance blocked by the Mariners’ keeper Ben Kennedy in the 8th minute. A couple minutes later and James Troisi tried his luck from outside the area but once again Kennedy to the rescue for the visitors, also denying Troisi a goal. It was a case of much of the same by Victory, looking to add to their goal tally when in the 30th minute just after the Mariners’ and ex-Victory player Connor Pain takes a shot high and wide, Keisuke Honda with a quality finish to give the home side 1-0 lead.
And so the party started for the Victory faithful when 5 minutes later James Troisi slotted one into the bottom right corner in the 35th the visitors had a fair bit of work to do already when defender Corey Brown decided in stoppage time, “Nah I want to join in too” and following an interception just outside of the box and GOAL!
3-0 for Victory! The second half saw the Mariners gain a little more possession and momentum which did not go unrewarded with Mario Shabow’s first touch finding the back of the net in the 62nd. It was a nervous time for Victory fans with many of us knowing that it only takes a few minutes to give away a lead. However, the men in navy blue weren’t going to let the happen enjoying more possession and pushing for another goal.
In the 79th minute, AAMI Park erupted when fan favourite Terry Antonis was subbed off with the great Swede in Ola Toivonen’s featuring for his much anticipated debut in the Hyundai A-League. Ola did not disappoint with quick runs down the line and finding space up front, safe to say this could be that final piece of the puzzle in Victory’s campaign to defend their championship
and challenge for the premiership. The 88th saw another debut in the ex-Brisbane Roar youngster Rahmat Akbari who is showing a lot of promise and could be a very handy signing indeed.
We were all fairly happy with the 3-1 score line, when four minutes into stoppage time Josh Hope scored his first senior goal following onto a cross from Ola Toivonen and there were smiles all around AAMI Park.
To be fair to the Mariners, Victory’s confidence was certainly building following their win in Newcastle last week and it is no easy feat to play against a Victory side that is slowly but surely regaining its mojo following the exodus of players from last season.
Now to enjoy the international break (FINALLY FFA!) and eagerly await the clash between the Sky Blues and Victory on the 25th of November.
Featured image from the Fox Sports Football’s Twitter page.