Melbourne Victory has prevailed with a captivating 4-3 win in an action-packed game against Kingston City on Monday night at The Grange Reserve.
There was plenty at stake for both sides with Melbourne Victory needing a win to move three points clear on the top of the PS4 NPL 1 East ladder, while the hosts were trying to keep their play-off chances alive.
The game got off to a flying start with the first goal in the sixth minute, an own goal by George Stavridis putting Victory in front.
The shots on goal continued as Victory attempted to get further ahead with a couple of solid strikes from Kieran Dover both flying wide of the mark.
It was in the 22nd minute that Dover was able to extend Victory's lead with a fast ball hitting the back of the net.
It wasn't long before the home side got in on the action, responding with Sean McIlroy lobbing one over the Victory goalkeeper Lucas Spinella in the 28th minute.
There was a chance for Andrew Doig to equalise a few minutes later with a free-kick taken, hitting the post and resulting in the ricochet kick going wide.
Benjamin Osei-Safo quickly made up for the missed opportunity, slotting a goal in just before the half-time whistle, making the scores level at 2-2 at the break.
The second half began with as much energy as the first, Victory determined to take back the lead with some good chances saved well by the Kingston goalkeeper.
After this, the game settled down with the play fairly even between both teams before a genuine chance for Victory livened it up again in the 67th minute.
It was Dover who scored his second with a header from close range from a Joey Katebian cross. This put the visitors in front once again, making the scores 3-2.
The home side, unwilling to go down without a fight, equalised again when Kingston City substitute Damian Iaconis got his name on the scoresheet with a strike from the edge of the box in the 74th minute.
However it was the league's top scorer, Victory captain Katebian, who scored the final goal, sealing the win for Victory in the 86th minute.
Even though Melbourne Victory managed to take the win, coach Darren Davies is looking for improvements, disappointed the team conceded three goals in a game they took the points in.
“One thing that we do is we always strive to be the best that we can,” Davies said.
“The boys made it hard work this evening. Part of their learning curve is how to win a game we certainly should have closed the game off much better then we did tonight.”
Pleased with the win, Victory captain Katebian also identified room for improvement after the match.
“We shouldn’t be conceding three goals and winning a game. It’s upsetting that we gave goals away but we have to pick ourselves up and go on from here,” Katebian said.
“We want to run out the season, win the games left, get promoted and now we’ve got a three-point buffer so it’s good.
"We’re disappointed in our performance in patches tonight but in the end we are happy to get the win."
The win puts Melbourne Victory three points ahead at the top of the ladder with three games to go in the season against Moreland City, Murray United and Box Hill United.