Melbourne Victory has ended Eastern Lions' undefeated streak with a decisive 3-1 National Premier League win at Gardiners Creek Reserve on Saturday.
Despite several exciting swings in momentum, Eastern Lions' consistent intensity was not enough to overcome the calm, patient possession maintained by the young Melbourne Victory side.
Melbourne Victory controlled most of the ball from kick-off, but Eastern Lions opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a through ball threaded to Philip Ajao.
The Melbourne Victory defenders stopped, looking for an offside and leaving Ajao to speed through on a breakaway. His initial shot hit the post, but his rebound from near the goal-line found the net.
Eastern Lions found their feet after the goal, and appeared to be the more effective in the final third.
Melbourne Victory continued to play a patient game and in the final minutes of the first half, George Howard and Joey Katebian began to combine moving forward.
Howard made two dangerous runs from the left flank, driving the ball across the face of the goal, but Melbourne Victory missed two opportunities for easy goals.
Finally, it was a defensive error that allowed Joey Katebian to even the score with seven minutes remaining in the half.
Melbourne Victory's patient midfield possession paid off in the second half when Kieran Dover found enough space from long range to launch a rocket past Lions goalkeeper Robert Hovercraft for the go-ahead goal.
Eastern Lions immediately rallied, and the speed of its front line became evident once again.
After creating several chances, a Lions corner was cleared off the goal-line with only ten minutes remaining.
But it wasn't to be for the Lions, with Thomas Falconer giving away a penalty in the final minutes of the game.
The defender slid in to stop an advancing Katebian, only to collect the forward, and earn himself a yellow card in the process.
Dover stepped up and converted the penalty for his second goal of the game, sealing the points for Melbourne Victory.
Eastern Lions 1 (Ajao 10')
Melbourne Victory 3 (Katebian 38’, Dover 59’, 86’ pen)
Eastern Lions: 1.Robert HOVERCRAFT (gk), 2.William ELLIS (15.Yianni TOUMANIDIS 85’), 3.Matthew PARRY, 4.Chris PAGE, 5.Thomas FALCONER, 6.Andrew WILLIAMS, 7.Ziggy RAZUKI, 8.Mitch BEAMISH, 10.Philip AJAO, 11.Munyaradzi NYADZAYO (13.Jarram CLEAR 85’), 12.David McKESSY (16.Shaun KENNY 56’)
Unused subs: 21.Andrew LIGHTFOOT, 14.Jordan HORN
Yellow cards: Ellis 37’, Falconer 83’, Beamish 90’
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne Victory: 1.Lucas SPINELLA (gk), 3.Milos RIDESIC, 4.Thomas DENG, 5.Damien MISKULIN, 6.Stefan NIGRO, 8.Anthony DUZEL, 9.Joey KATEBIAN, 10.Kieran DOVER, 11.John MACLEAN (13.Lucas DERRICK ’66), 17.George HOWARD (18.Reece CALDECOURT 90’+2), 19.Nick GLAVAN
Unused subs: 2.Thomas LAKIC, 20.Stephen HATZIKOURTIS (gk)
Yellow cards: Glavan 77’, Ridesic 86’
Red cards: Nil