NPL preview: Ballarat v Victory

Melbourne Victory looks to continue its unbeaten run in the NPL 3 Victoria when it makes the trip to Ballarat City on Saturday.

Summary

Victory stretched its unbeaten run to three games with a hard-fought 1-0 win over the North Sunshine Eagles at Epping Stadium.

Luca Da Silva's early goal, his first of the season, proved to be enough to earn three points for Victory.

However, it also needed heroics from Marko Bulic, with the goalkeeper saving a second-half penalty and making an excellent late stop.

It marked Victory's first clean sheet of the season, and only league leader Preston Lions has conceded fewer goals.

Victory is fifth on the table ahead of the trip to the Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, where it takes on the bottom side in the competition.

The last time Victory visited Ballarat in the NPL was in June 2019, when the teams drew 0-0.

General Manager – Football Drew Sherman's pre-match thoughts

"We were really pleased to get a clean sheet on the weekend and, when you consider the number of different players we've had play in our defensive positions, to have the second lowest number of goals in the league is something we can be proud of. It's fair to say good teams always have to be hard to score against, we work weekly on our defensive structure and understanding and it's fantastic for us that we're seeing proof of that learning applied in games. It's not something that's gone unnoticed either with a number of our defenders having exposure to the first team this season.

"However, it's also something that everyone in the group contributes towards and has bought into. Without pressure on the ball from our attacking players, our defenders know their job is a hell of a lot harder. Prior to last weekend we had a chat about how confident we are of winning games if we score two goals, and that message is the same this week. Yes, we expect to defend solidly, that's a given, but we also expect a Melbourne Victory team to dominate the ball and have an attacking mindset. Those are the focus areas for us as we look to improve and secure another win this weekend away in Ballarat."

This week

NPL 3 Victoria: Ballarat City v Melbourne Victory (Saturday, May 15 at 3.00pm AEST at Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, Ballarat)
U21 NPL 3 Victoria: Ballarat City v Melbourne Victory (Saturday, May 15 at 5.00pm AEST at Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, Ballarat)
U19 NPL 3 Victoria: Ballarat City v Melbourne Victory (Saturday, May 15 at 1.00pm AEST at Ballarat Regional Soccer Facility, Ballarat)
U17 NPL 2: Berwick City v Melbourne Victory (Sunday, May 16 at 1.15pm AEST at Jack Thomas Reserve, Narre Warren North)
U16 NPL 1: Melbourne Victory v Bentleigh Greens (Sunday, May 16 at 1.15pm AEST at Harvest Home Recreation Reserve, Melbourne)
U15 NPL 3 North/West: Melbourne Knights v Melbourne Victory (Sunday, May 16 at 11.30am AEST at Knights Stadium, Sunshine)
U14 NPL 3 North/West: Melbourne Victory v Bendigo City (Sunday, May 16 at 11.30am AEST at Harvest Home Recreation Reserve, Melbourne)

Last week

NPL 3 Victoria: Victory U21s 1 (Da Silva 8') North Sunshine Eagles 0
U21 NPL 3 Victoria: Victory U19s 6 (Moric 9', Anastovski 14'/42'/46'/64' pen/75') North Sunshine Eagles 2
U19 NPL 3 Victoria: Victory U17s 7 (Tanic 19', Lino 22', Ganino 24'/30', Gandhi 35'/42', Gust 46') North Sunshine Eagles 0
U17 NPL 2: Victory U16s 3 (Minutoli 45'/75', Connel 67') Bulleen Lions 1
U16 NPL 1: North Geelong Warriors 0 Victory U15s 2 (Mandic 24'/48')
U15 NPL 3 North/West: Victory U14s 1 (Marmura 33') Caroline Springs George Cross 1
U14 NPL 3 North/West: Victory U13s 1 (Borek 67') Heidelberg United 2