Melbourne Victory's four-game unbeaten run was ended with a 2-1 loss to Doveton in the NPL 3 Victoria on Saturday.
Victory was punished either side of half-time as Adam Hester and Sam Catherine put Doveton in control at Waratah Reserve.
Luca Da Silva pulled a goal back in the second half and Victory dominated late on without being able to find an equaliser.
Doveton created an early chance as Victory goalkeeper Marko Bulic made a low save to deny Damien Miskulin.
After a tight tussle on a difficult pitch, Victory went close on the half-hour mark as Da Silva forced a stop from Doveton goalkeeper Thomas Avdoulos.
But Doveton opened the scoring prior to the break as Hester headed in a Catherine cross from the right.
Straight from kick-off, Birkan Kirdar almost equalised, the midfielder's effort from halfway hitting the crossbar.
Victory made a bad start to the second half as Catherine doubled Doveton's lead with a back-post header from Rinor Muriqi's cross.
Muriqi squandered a great chance for Doveton in the 57th minute and Victory dominated the remainder of the game.
Victory halved the deficit through Da Silva, who finished clinically into the top corner shortly after the hour-mark.
Adem Duratovic almost equalised with 16 minutes remaining, but the forward was denied by Avdoulos in a one-on-one after a pass from William Wilson.
Wilson almost picked out Da Silva with a great cross in the 84th minute as Victory piled on the pressure, although no equaliser was forthcoming.
General Manager – Football Drew Sherman's post-match thoughts
"We've come away with nothing to show today and that defeat is hard to take, it definitely hurts. We felt that by and large on the balance of play, particularly after half-time we got into promising areas often enough to have done better and scored more. Ultimately, however, we've been beaten by two goals at the other end of the pitch from crosses that we have to deal with better, particularly when they come from poor turnovers in our own half.
"Unfortunately, it seems to be a little bit of a theme for us. In games that we've dropped points we're seeing the goals have come from sloppy mistakes in our build-up when really we aren't under great pressure. Today those are within a couple of minutes of half-time so perhaps there's a concentration component to this issue for us. We want the boys to be brave and play a certain way, mistakes are a part of that learning process but we will certainly need to work on that. Tomorrow we will reflect and come Monday we start afresh and start looking to making those improvements for next week.
"It's really pleasing to see a bit of fluidity between this group and the A-League at the moment, some of the boys are training regularly at Gosch's Paddock and in fairness to guys like Kirdar and (So) Nishikawa, who are getting minutes into their legs, they've come in with a good attitude and determination to perform. Hopefully some of the other players who have been performing well in recent weeks will get a chance to show their capabilities tomorrow evening against Adelaide United in the A-League. We've got a few of the U21 group in the squad for tomorrow and let's not forget ultimately that's why these boys are here – that's the true marker for the efficacy of our program."
NPL 3 Victoria 2021 Round 9
Doveton 2 (Adam Hester 43', Sam Catherine 46')
Melbourne Victory U21s 1 (Luca Da Silva 62')
Melbourne Victory U21s: Marko Bulic (gk); Thomas Lambiris, Edmond Lupancu, Aisen Ishak, So Nishikawa; William Wilson, Luca Da Silva (c); Jimmy Paneras (Nicholas Hamakiotis), Birkan Kirdar, Josh Varga (Darcy Anastovski); Adem Duratovic.
Victory's U19s made it nine straight wins to begin the season in the Under-21 competition, beating Doveton 4-1.