For the second time in two games, Melbourne City’s youth side has erased a two-goal deficit to run out 3-2 victors and keep their quest for yet another appearance in the Y-League Grand Final alive.
First-half goals to Victory’s Jake Polazzolo and Elvis Kamsoba had Head Coach Joe Palatsides’ side’s backs against the wall heading into the final ten minutes of the opening stanza at Epping Stadium.
However, much as Dylan Pierias strike against Adelaide United the week prior had done, Stefan Colakovski’s 37th minute strike kept City in touching distance heading into the halftime break, and served as a springboard from which a second-half fightback could be launched from.
City was the aided in their quest by a catastrophic error from Victory defender Luke Goulding; the youngster inadvertently completely wrongfooting Mathew Sutton with a back pass from almost the halfway line that eventually nestled itself into the back of the net.
With the tide turned, City spent much of the second half dominating the contest and was rewarded for their endeavour just past the hour mark when Gianluca Iannucci cut inside from the left and thundered an effort home.
Following his goalscoring heroics the round prior, Dylan Pierias was called up to Warren Joyce’s senior side for the contest whilst Josh Varga missed the game through suspension thanks to the red card he picked up against the Reds.
Central defender Lucas Portelli and midfielder Luke Duzel both entered Palatsides’ starting XI in their place.
Signs were good for City early, Colakovski and Mitch Graham combining well down the right before whipping a dangerous cross ball into the penalty area just minutes into the contest. Six minutes later Colakovski again flashed danger for Victory, receiving the ball on the right and cutting inside before laying a dangerous low cross across the face of goal that nobody was able to get on the end of.
Nonetheless, Victory was able to shake off City’s early threats and create some dangerous looking attacks of their own.
And, in the 15th minute, one proved fruitful for the hosts when senior-listed Kamsoba, playing his first game in a Victory shirt following his signing on January 3, floated a cross into the penalty area that Palazzo rose highest to meet.
Despite City keeper Ahmed Taleb getting a touch on the resulting header he was just is unable to keep the shot out, the ball instead working its way into the bottom corner to give Victory a 1-0 lead.
In the 22nd minute Victory almost had another, Nicholas Hatzigeorgiou blasting a long-range effort towards goal that Taleb was just able to tip onto the post.
Three minutes later, however, Victory did grab their second when Kamsoba – who was on fire for his new side in the first half – stole the ball from the City defence in their own half, advanced on goal and sidefoot an effort past Taleb.
Down 2-0 yet again City began the process of working their way back into the contest; Portelli forcing Sutton into a fantastic diving save from a free kick just past the half an hour mark.
City were able to make a breakthrough before the halftime whistle though, when Colakovski yet again picked the ball up on the right wing before he cut into the penalty area, beat two Victory defenders and fired home.
Perhaps it was a fiery halftime speech from Palatsides, Goulding’s calamitous error or even a combination of the two, but City appeared given renewed vigour with the scoreline restored to parity in the second half.
Colakovski had yet another chance to net in the 57th minute after being set up by Idrus Abdulahi before Iannucci struck with perfectly placed shot into the bottom corner of the net after pouncing on a ball Victory knocked loose from Moudi Najjar to make it 3-2.
Though kept quiet in the second half, Kamsomba did have a chance to equalise for Victory when he found himself in space on the edge of the area in the 74th minute but could only place his effort over the bar.
Najjar would desperately try to get his name on the scoresheet and seal the game with back-to-back chances in the game’s 84th minute but, in the end, it wasn’t needed: City seeing off a very late Victory flurry to secure the win.
City’s youth will next to return to action on 20 January, when they run out for their final home game of the 2018/19 Y-League season against Perth Glory at C.B Smith Reserve.
City will be hoping to make it two wins from two against their West Australian opposition, having defeated Glory 3-0 back in round three.