New kids on the the block make an electrifying comeback

A 20,800 crowd made their way to Marvel Stadium for the new Melbourne Derby, the Berisha Derby, the Victorian Derby?  Whatever you want to call it, (maybe just a Round 4 match?) Melbourne Victory were hosting Western United and I was pleasantly surprised to see WU’s fans spread across a couple bays.

I cracked a “more fans than City” joke which didn’t seem to go down well, but I did notice the new kids seemed to make more noise in comparison (at least for now).

Would the Victory notch their second win for the season following their 1-0 win against Brisbane last week or would Wester United bounce back after their loss to City? With Besart Berisha returning to the A-League facing his former side and the Victory having Nabbout, Kruse and Hoogland out due to injury it was anybody’s game. 

It was Marco Kurz’s men who hit the ground running pushing for possession looking to attack and it paid off when Captain Ola Toivonen sent in a rocket past Filip Kurto in the 6th minute. It was a beautifully hit strike by the Super Swede and it was a nice to see the boys in Navy Blue score so quickly.

What a solid start from my boys, and it was Kristijan ‘Kiki’ Dobras who decided Ola couldn’t have all the fun when two minutes later he found the back of the net in the 8th minute.

2-0 up eight minutes in!

WHAT WAS HAPPENING?! Following two lacklustre performances at home I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
Were the Victory finally finding their mojo under their new manager? Or as I said to my brother “watch us stuff this up.”

I really wish I hadn’t said anything…

Time and time again I seem to tempt fate and before I knew it Victory seemed to be on the back foot having to defend and battle it out in the midfield. I was starting to worry now, while the scoreboard was in our favour the visitors were dominating with each passing minute and I was not at all surprised when Alessandro Diamanti slotted one in the back of the net in the 16th minute. 

For the neutrals the first sixteen minutes of football with three goals scored… not bad? It was going to get better when it looked like Victory favourite Besart Berisha, this time in WU colours scored the equaliser in the 29th. Just had to be Bes huh? Of course it did! Or so we thought…. in the end the goal was credited as a Donachie own goal.

2-2 and my head was spinning! As quickly as the Victory notched a handy lead, they gave it away again. Part of me was trying to remain calm but WU were looking the better side especially in the midfield and defence.  Scott McDonald went hunting for the visitor’s third when it was a combination of Lawrence Thomas’s lightning reflexes (or so I hoped) and the post which denied WU another goal in the 40th minute.

The Victory had a chance to take back their lead when promoted youngster Brandon Lauton tried to capitalise on a Storm Roux cross but it was off target in the 42nd.  But to be completely honest we were looking flat, uninspired and the midfield seemed to be walking rather than running. The defence was well…. in my view non-existent and that for me was more worrying than trying to figure out who was going to score a winner with what looked like an injury cloud over Toivonen.

Half time and the sides were level!

Western United were definitely heading into the second half with all the moment and confidence. As for the Victory, HOW DO YOU THROW AWAY A TWO GOAL ADVANTAGE THAT QUICKLY DAMN IT?! (There were a few swear words thrown in for good measure and I’m sure I provided entertainment for those sitting around me).

The second half started in the same way as the first ended, Victory looking like they just wanted to go home and WU were full of energy and motivation. Of course it was the visitors who scored next in the 51st minute! It was Scott McDonald who pounced on the cutback from Kone, took a deflection and found the back of the net.

F**K THIS were the first words out of my mouth knowing Rudan wouldn’t take too many risks now and it was going to become very difficult to score, sure enough I was right.

Tommy Deng had the better chances for the home side when a beautifully taken free kick by Migjen Basha was sent his way in the 58th minute. By better, from the angle of my seat it looked to just miss but on replay it was definitely wide. Things didn’t look like they were going to improve when both Toivonen and Dobras received medical attention after a couple knocks in the 65th. I was expecting Ola whom at this point seemed to barely be walking to be substituted off but no, it was Kiki Dobras making way for Kenny Athiu a couple minutes later. 

It was Kenny in the 77th with a solid chance off a Traore cross but it was headed just wide. Victory were trying to break through Rudan’s Great Wall of Defence but no matter how many times they tried nothing seemed to be working. WU were also happy it seems, to play on the counter and were out to protect their lead and with each passing minute it was becoming pretty obvious unless there was a last minute miracle granted by the football gods it will be three games at home without a win for the Victory. 

The 83rd saw Donachie head the ball just wide following a Victory free kick for Jertec’s challenge on Kamsoba.
So close! Could the Victory find a way to rescue a point?

The fourth official signalled 5 minutes of stoppage time so maybe, just maybe it wasn’t all gloom and doom for the boys in Navy Blue. Once again, it seemed Victory were trying to find a third goal and credit to Leigh Broxham, Donachie and Basha whom had a bit of pressure to contend with on trying to push forward but it wasn’t to be. 

Of course when your team needs to find an equaliser even five minutes of stoppage time doesn’t seem long enough and that was the case here. Well that was um… depressing. It will forever blow my mind that we looked so dominant in the first twenty minutes and then completely shut down in defence after that. Kudos to Rudan and Western United who did not give up, what a deserved three points!

WU face the league leaders Western Sydney Wanderers next week which is looking like it will be a solid match indeed. As for my boys in blue? Thankfully we are back where we belong at AAMI Park and hosting the Wellington Phoenix. Maybe it will be fourth time lucky to find a win at home for the first time in the 2019/20 season. Maybe I shouldn’t panic just yet but sitting 6th on the ladder, with two losses, one draw and one win four rounds in; knowing we also play Sydney FC and Adelaide United away in the coming weeks isn’t doing much for the confidence.

By Jakie Manevski

Featured Image by Matt Johnson Photography

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