Derby Day. I look forward to any game my team plays but a derby is something pretty special and makes or breaks my weekend and the week ahead. The emotions whether they’re happy, sad, filled with anger or frustration are a huge part of what makes football special and Friday night was no exception with another edition of the Melbourne Derby. Melbourne City were hosting the Victory at AAMI Park once again.
The hosts were holding onto second place by a point and having only won one match in four, while the Vuck needed to bounce back after their 90th minute loss in Perth last week. It was the visitors with derby bragging rights having won in Round 11 thanks to Ola Toivonen’s brace and a cagey 0-0 draw in Round 1 had the points split.
Any positivity and excitement I had in the opening minutes were quickly dashed when Florin Berenguer was on the end of a brilliant ball from Luna who reminded me the Energizer Bunny with a solid run to set up his teammate in the 8th. Well that was… not how tonight was supposed to go and for what felt like the 1038308 time this season, the Victory were again looking for a come-from-behind win. To throw in some extra stress and tension, Noone decided to try a cheeky little chip that found JMac but thankfully his shot was blocked in the 23rd.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom with Tim Hoogland hitting the post on the end of Ola Toivonen’s indirect free in the 30th, to be fair the Victory weren’t playing terribly. A fantastic tackle by Donachie denied Craig Noone in the 33rd to still keep Victory in it, and it was looking more and more like one of those first half performances where the Victory played well but couldn’t find the back of the net. Following a questionable…. HAHA OK let’s be clear “A RED CARD, ANKLE BREAKING, WHAT THE F**K WERE YOU THINKING AND DOING JAMIESON?!” Tackle on Elvis Kamsoba in the 45+1 minute. How Jamieson wasn’t sent off is beyond me following that late, from behind, studs up tackle on the ankle had me once again questioning the VAR and how beneficial it actually is, yes I know he received a yellow and it needs to be a clear and obvious error but surely common sense and player welfare comes into play here?!
Onto the second half and it was another opportunity to lose it at the referees and VAR in the 51st minute when the Victory were denied a penalty following a handball by Griffiths in the area. Post-VAR check it was denied because the ball hit his body first. If we’re debating the natural v unnatural position of a player’s arm and consistency in our league I think we’ll be here a while (just look at that handball call against Daniel Georgievski), anyway no penalty and back to the football.
Carlos Salvachua was throwing caution to the wind when making a double change in the 55th minute, with Hoogland and Lesiotios making way for Kruse and Rojas. Could the attacking duo make some magic happen? Or would this attacking minded “live by the sword, die by the sword” approach by Coach Carlos see the Vuck defeated once again. In my opinion, I loved the confidence. You’re down a goal might as well through some of your strike force on when you’re chasing a game.
Just when I felt a little more optimistic who else but Jamie Maclaren to break my heart in the 71st minute following a close-range strike that was always going to go in.
While Kiwi Messi hasn’t found the back of the net for the Victory yet following two appearances off the bench since his return (it’ll happen, I have faith) he did manage to draw a free kick for the Vuck and it was Toivonen who was given the job of “get us back into it”. Glover managed to get his hands on it in the 78th minute but… in a moment of pure, “I’m going to die of laughter” joy he palmed the ball into the back of the net.
Any hope of getting something out of this match was soon dashed in the 87th minute when Robbie Kruse left the pitch with what looked like a hamstring injury (seriously, I actually think I found someone who gets more injured than I do) leaving the visitors to play out the match with 10 men (Carlos made his final sub in the 78th replacing Basha with Poulsen).
In the end it was 2-1 win for City who look to hold onto second place and the realisation that Victory’s season is well and truly done and dusted if the wins don’t start arriving quickly sitting 9th on the table on 16 points having played 17 matches thus far. (For context on how poor their season has been the Mariners are only 3 points behind with 2 games in hand and the Jets 6 behind with 2 games in hand).
By Jakie Manevski
Featured image by Aleksandar Jason