NPL preview: Victory v Eastern Lions

Melbourne Victory resumes its NPL2 West season at home to Eastern Lions on Sunday.

Summary

Victory welcomes the Lions to Epping Stadium after the competition took a break across the Easter weekend, with FFA Cup fixtures taking place.

It returns to action having won three of its past five matches, but coming off a 2-0 loss to the Moreland Zebras in Round 9.

Regulars at NPL2 level this season, Rahmati Akbari, Jack Palazzolo, Aaron Anderson, Benjamin Carrigan and Thierry Iradukunda were part of Victory's matchday squad for a 1-1 AFC Champions League draw against Guangzhou Evergrande on Tuesday.

Akbari, 18, and Palazzolo, 18, both came off the bench, the latter given his senior debut in the closing stages of the hard-earned draw.

Palazzolo has led Victory on the goalscoring front this season, netting seven times in nine games.

Victory sits sixth in the NPL2 West, while Eastern Lions are top of the NPL2 East.

When the teams met in April last year, Victory recorded a dramatic 2-1 win away from home.

Head coach Gareth Naven's pre-match thoughts

"I think it exposes them to the experience against Guangzhou last night and amongst the first-team players and understanding what does it take to get there and stay there. I'd like to think they want to bring something back to the group and find out from them what they learned from that moment they had with the senior team in the ACL game. But our focus is leading into Eastern Lions, and obviously the whole time we've had off it's been about what can we get better at in our defensive, attacking (play) and we always said to our group of players, we play at our tempo, not NPL tempo. So, we're really focused on controlling what we can control and our strengths and getting better at that."

This week

NPL2 West 2019 Round 10
Melbourne Victory v Eastern Lions
Sunday, April 28, 3.00pm AEST
Epping Stadium, Melbourne

U20 NPL2 West 2019 Round 10
Melbourne Victory v Eastern Lions
Sunday, April 28, 12.30pm AEST
Epping Stadium, Melbourne

U18 NPL West 2019 Round 9
Green Gully v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, April 28, 1.30pm AEST
Green Gully Reserve, Melbourne

U15 NPL West 2019 Round 9
Green Gully v Melbourne Victory
Sunday, April 28, 1.30pm AEST
Green Gully Reserve, Melbourne

Last time

NPL2 West: Moreland Zebras 2 Victory 0
U20 NPL2 West: Moreland Zebras 2 Victory 3 (Lethlean 46'/65', Leban 49')
U18 NPL West: Werribee City 4 Victory 3 (Coskundag 11', Serra 75', Moukachar 90')
U15 NPL West: Werribee City 0 Victory 6 (McCloskey 29'/52', Minutoli 41', Karvounis 42', Kapaklis 45', Theodorou 65')