What is better than a Melbourne Derby? A Christmas Melbourne Derby and Saturday evening saw this season’s second instalment at AAMI Park.
Victory were on a mission to secure the 3 points and go top of the league heading into Christmas, while Warren Joyce’s men as always wanted to get “one over” on their noisy neighbours. In keeping with this season’s theme there was no Bruno Fornaroli for City and a notable exclusion for Victory was a late withdrawal of their marquee man Keisuke Honda for the first time this season. To be fair, I would have loved to see a goal shootout between the two but being loyal to my Victory I was fairly relieved to not see Fornaroli on City’s team sheet. But also a little worried knowing how much of a spark Honda has been this season and in a Derby anything can happen.
The first five minutes saw both sides get plenty of the ball early, but it was City with the first chance when Dario Vidosic hit a low strike sending Lawrence Thomas fumbling and the Victory clearing in the first minute! I couldn’t help but think that City could end up causing some pre-Christmas grief for those of us in navy blue but all was not lost, when in the 5th minute Leigh Broxham’s shot was deflected for a corner but it was cleared by City. Ok, well we are in attacking mode now so we should be alright.
The 9th saw Victory’s shot stopper called into action again managing to clear the ball but only as far as Riley McGree who pounced trying to steer it into the open goal, but luckily for Victory (and extremely unlucky for City) he sent it flying over the goal.
The next ten minutes saw both sides strong in attack but neither managing to break the deadlock, and drawing first blood, and City were building in possession. I wouldn’t say Victory were playing poorly they just didn’t seem to be as dominating in the midfield especially, as we are becoming accustomed to seeing this season.
The 28th saw Luke Brattan who is channelling Jason Akermanis with his platinum hair and dark beard combo (or as I pointed out Draco Malfoy if he had a beard mishap) forcing a corner from the Victory following onto a Jamieson ball, but Lawrence Thomas was all over it when Brattan sent the ball into the box.
James Troisi forced a solid save from Galekovic in the 34th and a minute later Victory were clearing a Vidosic free-kick for another City corner. Not to feel left out, the 39th saw Troisi deliver a free-kick into the box but he failed to get it past the defence and it was headed clear.
Victory suffered a scare late in the first half when Griffiths forced Thomas to make a strong, stretching save in the 43rd, another City corner (they were starting to drive me nuts to be honest). But LT to the rescue scooping up De Laet’s header *phew* but it was literally not even a minute later, when Wales forced LT to run out and smother the ball.
Half- time and both sides head into the sheds goalless.
The second- half started in a similar fashion with Victory earning a corner in the 47th, but City clear it with no issues and it was their turn to try trouble the visiting Victory (even though the crowd seemed to be heavily in Victory’s favour) but Thomas Deng was on hand to send them straight back out.
Terry Antonis (who in my opinion seemed a little quiet in the first half) got around Schenkevald but his cutback was too close to Galekovic and the opportunity was gone in the 49th.
At this point you couldn’t help but sense that this could end up being a one goal decider for either side, and I was in peak stress mode (the wine I was drinking seemed to be emptying extremely quickly) a loss just before Christmas is always a shitty feeling for any fan BUT a Derby loss is pure torture.
The 51st saw another City corner this time McGree sending the ball toward the back post but LT managed to catch it before the City attack to get to it. The more I stop and think the more it seemed that City were slightly more dangerous but….
OLA TOIVONEN CAME TO THE RESCUE PLAYING SANTA CLAUSE IN THE 55TH!
Not only did he put Victory ahead pouncing on a beautiful pin-point accurate cross from Kosta Barbarouses to the back post but also scoring the club’s 600th goal in the process! Congratulations to Melbourne Victory on being the first club to do so (ok and I am unashamedly grinning).
Victory were looking a bit livelier after that with Terry Antonis finding space at the top of the box but couldn’t find the back of the net in the 57th. The pressure on City now to find an equaliser and they weren’t going to give up just yet, spending the next minutes pushing for an equaliser but nothing.
The 69th saw Toivonen looking to score another with a volley from about 20 yards out but sent it flying over the goal. A couple minutes later, Victory were pushing for more earning a corner in the process. Troisi’s delivery to the near post saw an initial clearance by City but not far enough and the visitors earned another corner.
Troisi again took the corner in the 73rd with the big Swede Toivonen lurking but City clear it again before he can get his shot away.
It was becoming an interesting tousle between the two sides, I was desperately wanting to see Victory score a second to:
1. Give them a buffer and;
2. Make City suffer
As the minutes ticked away I started to think ok, we’ve got this! Keep trying to find the second goal but do NOT do anything stupid to see a City equaliser. I repeat do NOT do anything stupid.
The 90th minute comes around and it was still 1-0 in Victory’s favour. The fourth official signalled four minutes of stoppage time and it started to feel like the longest four minutes of my life.
My concerns came true when Vidosic pounced two minutes into extra time, drawing City level from a Jamieson cross!
The City parts of AAMI were euphoric celebrating like they had just won the league, calm down you lot you’re still 4th on the ladder behind Sydney, Victory and Perth. I don’t know what the three defenders in front of Dario were doing but boy was I fuming (quite a few f**k this, f**k that followed). We developed a habit over a couple seasons of allowing late equalisers and winners, I had been hoping this season would be different and allowing such a later equaliser in the Derby is even worse!
The final minute saw another City cross but Thomas punches it away and not long later the whistle is blown for full time.
I know it was a draw and we still managed to close the gap on Glory but on the other hand to concede a goal so late and miss a good opportunity for a win feels shitty.
So have a Merry Christmas everyone, even if Vidosic turned into a Melbourne Victory Grinch and hero for those in City blue.
Onto next week when Victory take on the Nix on Friday night at AAMI Park