NPL report: Victory 1-1 Moreland Zebras

Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw with the Moreland Zebras in the NPL2 West on Sunday.

Summary

A second-half goal from substitute Ryan Lethlean helped Victory earn a hard-fought point at Epping Stadium.

Luke Aaron-Devitt had opened the scoring for the Zebras in rainy conditions in the second half.

Both teams were lively early, with the Zebras almost taking the lead through Nicolas Niagioran.

However, there were few clear-cut chances as Moreland pressed Victory, which looked good in possession without threatening.

Niagioran went closest to an opening goal in the first half, hitting the post with a header in the 33rd minute.

As heavy rain fell to begin the second half, Victory almost took the lead through Liston Diaz, whose effort at the back post was blocked after an Aaron Anderson cross.

Instead, the Zebras broke the deadlock, Aaron-Devitt side-footing in the opener from inside the area.

Victory hung in there and enjoyed its best period before Lethlean equalised with 14 minutes remaining.

The striker pounced on a loose pass before firing a superb 20-yard finish into the bottom corner to make it 1-1.

Victory had the best chance for a winner, Lethlean shooting over the crossbar after an Anthony Lesiotis pass following a counter-attack.

Head coach Gareth Naven's post-match thoughts

"It's been more about the players consistently being able to achieve a performance and they did that. I thought they contested the ball, wanted to play some football against Moreland, who are hard at it, there was a lot at stake for them as well. I thought it was a consistent performance from our team and that's what we've been trying to achieve all year and for the 90 minutes our players were in the fight, in the match, for every contest, for every second and we should be really proud of their performance. It proves to them that they're able to repeat and execute a high standard of performance, which is really important to them. Also, the people that impacted and contributed off the bench, Ryan Lethlean, under-20 player, (Nicholas) Hamakiotis, (So) Nishikawa, I thought as a group everyone gave their bit for the team."

NPL2 West 2019 Round 27
Melbourne Victory 1
(Ryan Lethlean 76')
Moreland Zebras 1 (Luke Aaron-Devitt 55')

Melbourne Victory: Matthew Sutton (gk); Andrew Visciglio (c), Matthew Bozinovski (So Nishikawa), Benjamin Carrigan, Aaron Anderson; Anthony Lesiotis, Jay Barnett; Liston Diaz, Jack Morton, Yazid Said (Nicholas Hamakiotis); Jack Palazzolo (Ryan Lethlean).

Under-20s

Victory's under-20s clinched the title thanks to a 2-0 win over the Moreland Zebras.