Late supply of Swedish unit sends the travelling internationals flat-packing

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Remembrance Round continued in the A-League, and it was FINALLY Melbourne Victory’s time to return to AAMI Park for the 2019/20 season. Playing host to the Wellington Phoenix it was a must-win clash for both sides, the Vuck chasing a first home win and just their second win for the season while the Nix needed a result to find their first points for the season.

I was like a child at Christmas heading over to AAMI it feels like home, it is home. Despite playing select games at Marvel Stadium it is AAMI Park that provides the perfect venue for Victory’s fans. 

It was the visitors who kicked things off following the Remembrance Day ceremony and the Nix looked to press early and notch up possession especially in the midfield. I wasn’t worried just yet but then true to form in the 4th minute the Nix were awarded a penalty following a handball by Ola Toivonen off a Nix corner, which was initially missed by the referee but our “mate” VAR was on hand to “fix” the situation for the Nix. 

Davila sent Victory’s Lawrence Thomas the wrong way and converted for the visitors, 1-0 for the Nix and to be honest I was annoyed at the situation but not particularly angry just yet. It was a handball and that’s football. Looking to make amends Toivonen tried to provide the equaliser in the 11th following a free kick on the edge of the penalty area, he cleared the wall and was unlucky not to find the back of the net.

As the first half was progressing I was starting to get nervous. The visitors were looking the more dangerous of the two sides especially in attacking intent, while the Victory were pushing to find the equaliser and they had more time in the attacking third it was the Phoenix who at this point looked the more dangerous. 

The 37th saw Stefan Marinovic make a solid save to deny Jakob Poulsen and a chorus of boos could be heard in the stands as the Phoenix keeper ate up the entire six seconds allowed and then some. It was looking to be a theme of the match and following a warning surely the time wasting would stop (it didn’t by the way, with a couple more warnings during the match and no yellow card to be seen).

It was much of the same for the remainder of the first half, the home side needed to find an equaliser quick smart or risk the visitors’ growth of confidence and a case of “park the bus” in the second.

It was half time before I knew it and I wasn’t too fussed that we were a goal down, but… I was extremely worried about the quality of football being played by my team. 

Cue the second half and it was the Phoenix with the first solid chance of the second half in the 49th minute. Lawrence Thomas stopped David Ball’s close range strike to deny the visitors their second. The 54th minute provided a solid chance for the home side to find an equaliser following a free kick given to Migjen Basha. Captain Toivonen steps up to take it but sent it straight into the wall. 

Ola Toivonen made amends for giving away the penalty, following some beautiful footwork in the 66th minute.

1-1!

Game on!!! Or so I thought… 

You would think after equalising and chasing their first home win for the season the Victory would fight for the ball and look for more goals. Back home at AAMI, perfect weather (it was cool, slight breeze and pretty good weather for football) and playing against a Nix side whom, whilst pushing Sydney FC a couple weeks ago were struggling to see out a result it was our game to win.

But noooo. Not my team.

My beloved Victory seemed to be confused as to what the task at hand was. STOP PLAYING SIDE-TO-SIDE BACKWARDS PASSING FOOTBALL IN OUR DEFENSIVE HALF WHEN YOU’RE LOOKING TO FIND A WINNER PLEASE! To make things worse, the lack of urgency and passion showed across the board by the Vuck was starting to annoy not only myself but those fans around me.

It wasn’t all doom and gloom when in the 78th Marinovic made a great save to deny Ola Toivonen at close range but to be honest that was where it ended for me. Throw in some more side-to-side backward football mixed in with a lack of runs and no substitutes. EXCUSE ME MR KURZ… why did you until the 85th minute to make the first change? (Kristijan ‘Kiki’ Dobras replaced Kenny Athiu), why wouldn’t you throw in some fresh legs earlier?!

The second change for the home side was three minutes into stoppage time with Anthony Lesiotis replacing Basha. Where is the Marco Kurz that was grinding out wins with Adelaide United last season? I want that manager please and thank you, not sure what has happened. 

Well the game was finally over, the points shared and the Wellington Phoenix should hold their head high. It is not easy to travel across the ditch looking to notch up your first result away from home. As for my team… well… that was really depressing, uninspiring and flat. Facing an away trip to Sydney FC next week and then away to Adelaide I am concerned.

I am well aware we have a few injured players who will hopefully return soon and I know we have a history of slow starts to the season but we’ve been playing average football thus far, with an average tally of results to match: 1 win, 2 draws and 2 losses. Sitting 7th on the ladder and 8 points behind league leaders Melbourne City, I am not impressed let’s hope the worst is over. It is too early for #KurzOut but I feel that if Victory don’t turn things around soon this might be the case. 

By Jakie Manevski

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