Late strike sinks Victory Youth

A clinical finish three minutes from full-time by the competition's leading scorer Kerem Bulut put Sydney FC back on the winners' list and delivered a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory in their National Youth League match at the Veneto Club on Saturday.

A clinical finish three minutes from full-time by the competition's leading scorer Kerem Bulut put Sydney FC back on the winners' list and delivered a heart-breaking 1-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory in their National Youth League match at the Veneto Club on Saturday.

A virtually anonymous Bulut had been kept under a tight rein by Victory defender Peter Franjic before being set free by a pinpoint pass from substitute Hussein Akil in the 87th minute and slotting the ball under keeper Mitch Langerak.

The goal, Bulut's fifth for the season, rewarded Sydney for its perseverance and resilience after being outplayed for much of the contest.

Sydney coach Steve O'Connor conceded his team was lucky to claim the three points.

"It was a bit of trench warfare there but we toughed it out and probably a draw would have been a fair result," O'Connor said.

"We were under significant pressure there but, in the end, 1-0, I'll take that, it was a good win."

"It was just an opportunist goal - Akil did well out wide with a good little ball, took the boy on and beat him for pace and then whipped it in and Bulut was there to finish, which is what he does."

Had the Victory a striker with Bulut's predatory instincts, they could have racked up a cricket score.

Galvanised by the hard work down the right of Evan Berger and the hard running of skipper Aziz Behich, the home side forced a succession of early corners which, for the most part, were handled comfortably by the taller Sydney defenders led by skipper Antony Golec.

Despite the return from national Under-20 duty of Nathan Elasi, the home side failed to apply the killer finish, however, to several half-chances and a handful of gilt-edged ones, the best of them in the 19th minute when Mate Dugandzic cut clean through the Sydney defence.

One-on-one with Nenad Vekic, Dugandzic tried to place his right foot shot to the keeper's left but Vekic anticipated well and got down low to block the shot.

Twice in the second half Victory substitute Matthew Demo found himself one-on-one with Vekic but a lack of control initially and then a lack of poise in the second instance let him down.

Chris Payne, whose creativity belied his strong physical presence, was Sydney's most influential and consistent player over the 90 minutes.

Before Bulut's late intervention, Payne had Sydney's best goalscoring opportunity when he wriggled down the right past Franjic and Stephen Hatzikostas almost to the goal line where Langerak was waiting to block courageously to his left.

O'Connor said he was pleased his team was able to bounce back quickly from last week's shock 3-1 loss to Central Coast.

"We had a little chat about the mental side of it, preparing ourselves coming down here and the importance of getting the processes right," said O'Connor.

"I was pretty happy with that."

O'Connor had a little grizzle about the synthetic pitch at the Veneto Club which he said was a little more 'lively' than his players were accustomed to and may have been a factor in the Victory's dominance.

"Just our touch, I think, was off, we had the ball too far away from us and it's little technique things like using the inside of your feet, slowing down the ball and moving it early," he said.

"We were letting played too close to us and, a lot of times, turned it over."

"They were beating us to the ball all the time and I told them 'we've got to go tighter here, lads, we're giving them too much room'."

Melbourne Victory 0 Sydney FC 1 (Kerem Bulut 87')