NPL report: Victory 2-2 Box Hill

Melbourne Victory was held to a 2-2 draw by Box Hill United in the NPL2 West on Saturday.

Summary

Stefan Ristic scored a brace for Victory at Epping Stadium, where the host took a first-minute lead before falling behind.

Goals from Jamie Mammino and Rowan McNamee had Box Hill ahead before Ristic's second-half equaliser.

Victory made a dream start, scoring after 11 seconds following a wonderful team move straight from kick-off.

Birkan Kirdar and Nuh Sehavdic were involved before Ristic fired in from inside the area.

Victory dominated the opening period and Sehavdic almost doubled the lead, only to see his strike cleared off the line after a pass from Aydin Mustedanagic.

However, Box Hill settled and equalised before half-time, Mammino finishing in a one-on-one with Matthew Sutton after the visitor won possession in Victory's half.

Victory was on top to begin the second half as Kirdar fired over from distance before Thierry Iradukunda was also unable to hit the target after combining with Yazid Said.

But Box Hill struck through McNamee, who curled an effort in from range to make it 2-1.

Victory responded immediately as Ristic, moments after having a strike saved, headed in a Mustedanagic cross from the left in the 68th minute.

Neither team was able to find a winner in the closing stages as an entertaining encounter ended all square.

Head coach Gareth Naven's post-match thoughts

"We started off really well, within 12 seconds we were 1-0 up, an intensity level that was very, very high during parts of the first half, and it got quite low towards the second half. An opportunity missed, a fresh opportunity missed to perform to a level that's required and disappointed that we couldn't finish the match off at a level that's going to reward us.

"During the match, too many inconsistent moments with our players in regards to their intensity, the contest, in saying that, the first 12 seconds we're 1-0 up, aggressive, going forward, minimum touches, shooting on sight, it's what it looks like when you're intense, it's what it looks like when you're aggressive and attacking.

"I thought we defended crosses a lot better than we have done, got some early contact which was important and what they worked on during the week so that was a definite improvement, but a sustained intensity over a period of 90 minutes, it needs to be much better, we need to fix that real quick."

NPL2 West 2019 Round 14
Melbourne Victory 2
(Stefan Ristic 1'/68')
Box Hill United 2 (Jamie Mammino 35', Rowan McNamee 64')

Melbourne Victory: Matthew Sutton (gk); Brandon Lauton (c), Anthony Lesiotis, Matthew Bozinovski, Aydin Mustedanagic; Jack Morton (Benjamin Carrigan); Thierry Iradukunda, Stefan Ristic, Birkan Kirdar (Daniel Aye); Yazid Said, Nuh Sehavdic (Mohammed Bassal).

Under-20s

Victory's under-20s were held to a 2-2 draw by Box Hill United.