NPL report: Victory 1-1 Preston

Melbourne Victory played out a 1-1 draw against the Preston Lions in the NPL 3 Victoria on Sunday.

Summary

Victory took a deserved first-half lead at Epping Stadium thanks to a cool finish from Ryan Lethlean.

But Victory played out a third straight draw as Robert Stambolziev converted a penalty, unable to find a winner despite Brad Blumenthal's red card for the Lions.

Victory made the better start and had good chances to open the scoring inside the opening 15 minutes.

Luca Da Silva saw a goal-bound effort blocked on the line after a Jimmy Paneras cutback before William Wilson also had a strike cleared as it looked destined to find the back of the net.

Another huge opportunity followed for Victory in the 13th minute, but Darcy Anastovski was denied in a one-on-one by Preston goalkeeper Matthew Symes.

At the other end, Thomas Lambiris made a clearance off the line following a corner to keep Victory level in the 17th minute.

But Victory deservedly opened the scoring midway through the first half as Lethlean produced a composed finish past Symes for his second goal of the season after a Da Silva pass down the right.

Victory continued to dominate the first half and Symes tipped away a deflected Josh Varga effort from the edge of the area after a fine team move just prior to the half-hour mark.

However, Preston would go into the interval level, Stambolziev converting a penalty after Victory goalkeeper Marko Bulic brought down Ryu Yamagishi.

Victory squandered another good chance to begin the second half as Lethlean missed the target from a Lambiris cross before Paneras curled a 20-yard effort wide.

Preston was reduced to 10 men just before the hour-mark as Blumenthal saw red for stomping on Bulic's foot.

Victory had an immediate opportunity to retake the lead, but Paneras was denied in a one-on-one by Symes after an Anastovski pass.

Preston briefly pushed despite the numerical disadvantage, as Bulic did terrifically well to tip over a Jamie Percevski header.

Victory pushed late on, but the closest it came to finding a winner was Wilson forcing a diving stop from Symes from 20 yards in additional time.

NPL 3 Victoria 2021 Round 14
Melbourne Victory U21s 1
(Ryan Lethlean 23')
Preston Lions 1 (Robert Stambolziev 36' pen)

Melbourne Victory U21s: Marko Bulic (gk); Thomas Lambiris, Matthew Bozinovski, Aisen Ishak, Edmond Lupancu; Luca Da Silva, William Wilson; Jimmy Paneras (Gianluca Iannucci), Josh Varga, Darcy Anastovski; Ryan Lethlean (Adem Duratovic).

Under-21s

Victory's U19s claimed a 12th straight win to begin the Under-21 competition, beating Preston 6-2.