NPL report: Victory 1-3 Eastern Lions

Melbourne Victory suffered a 3-1 loss to Eastern Lions in the NPL2 West on Sunday.

Summary

Goals from Dan Gathercole and Shaun Kenny put the Lions ahead before Jack Morton struck for Victory at Epping Stadium.

But while the host pushed, Eastern Lions sealed its win through a late Thomas Biss penalty.

The visitor opened the scoring in the sixth minute, Gathercole scrambling in after Victory was unable to clear a corner.

Victory enjoyed spells in possession, but struggled to break down a deep-sitting Lions side.

Jack Palazzolo, fresh off making his senior debut in the AFC Champions League on Tuesday, almost equalised, but the ball rolled just wide after the forward had blocked a clearance from Lions goalkeeper Keegan Coulter.

After Victory had made a promising start to the second half, Kenny doubled Eastern Lions' lead, putting away a rebound following a good save from Victory goalkeeper Matthew Sutton.

The host pulled a goal back on the hour-mark through Morton.

A cross from Brandon Lauton was handled in the area and while Morton's penalty was saved by Coulter, the midfielder headed in the rebound.

Victory enjoyed a period of dominance after its goal, Josh Hope firing wide from an angle before Palazzolo almost equalised in the 70th minute.

Substitute Yazid Said did well down the left before his cutback found Palazzolo, whose strike from inside the area was saved by Coulter.

As Victory pushed, the visitor sealed its win through Biss, who converted a late penalty.

Head coach Gareth Naven's post-match thoughts

"I thought we started pretty slowly the first five or 10 minutes. I think we need to play forward more and not be intent to play the ball backwards so much, to sort of be more on the front foot. In saying that, I think for the whole match we stayed in the fight.

"It's good learning for our players – dominate so much possession but get no reward, and it's important that we need to change that, we definitely need to change that. It's something that we'll talk about in our review and I'm sure with the energy the players are putting in, I just think that a performance like that should give you more than what we got.

"In saying that, credit to Eastern Lions. Their strengths – corners against, throw-ins against … and we understand that we've got to be better. I sum it up that the performance was full of good intent and good energy, but I just want to be sure that we're clinical in getting some reward from our performance, that's all. And that can get frustrating. If it was about keeping the ball and having the ball we'd win hands down today, but that's not the way it is, it's who puts the ball in the back of the net and 3-1, it flatters them to be honest, as if we weren't in the game and we were in the game and we need to get rewarded for all that possession we're creating and making."

NPL2 West 2019 Round 10
Melbourne Victory 1
(Jack Morton 60')
Eastern Lions 3 (Dan Gathercole 6', Shaun Kenny 53', Thomas Biss 88' pen)

Melbourne Victory: Matthew Sutton (gk); Brandon Lauton, Aaron Anderson, Benjamin Carrigan (c), So Nishikawa (Nuh Sehavdic); Jack Morton (Matthew Bozinovski), Josh Hope; Thierry Iradukunda, Stefan Ristic (Yazid Said), Rahmat Akbari; Jack Palazzolo.

Under-20s

Victory's under-20s made it back-to-back wins, beating Eastern Lions 4-1.