Upon the backdrop of the tapped home terrace of Melbourne Victory, the next chapter in the Battle of the Bridge was written on Boxing Day as (insert result)
Victory, although the away side weren’t permitted to have any supporters inside the venue as a result of the sanctions handed down by Football Australia on Friday afternoon.
Donning the fluro yellow for the first time this season, the Victory came out of the blocks with a stern intent to strike early.
A fairly tame 15 minutes followed with neither side particularly threatening within any domain despite a wayward George Timotheou header that drifted past the goal of his goalkeeper Paul Izzo.
A ball over the top for Nick D’Agostino led to a shot going astray from the goal where some nice interplay between Kadete and the forwards led to another close chance for the Victory.
A few minutes later, Marchan collected a loose ball, leading to a shot from Bruno Fornaroli which came incredibly close to Jamie Young’s right post, with the Victory gaining control of the contest.
A ball over the top subsequently found Ikonomidis, with veteran defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley flying in studs up leading to his second red card of the season.
Route one football followed as yet another ball over the top found Prijovic, whose shot was blocked for a corner.
Poor marking from Kadete at the back post led to a free header for Josh Risdon, as Western United opened the scoring on the stroke of half time.
As expected, as the second half commenced Victory had the lions share of possession, yet within the opening ten minutes it was Western United who gained the most obvious chance, spraying a cross across goal.
A flurry of chances from a set piece followed for Western United, with a miraculous volley from James Troisi hitting the upright. Victory still struggled immensely to create anything of much note going forward.
With minutes remaining, from a set piece Stefan Nigro was gifted a golden chance right in front of goal yet his effort flew over the bar. The final chance arrived from a chested effort from D’Agostino, as Victory succumbed to another defeat on the season.
NO VICTORY SUPPORTERS LEAVES SUBDUES ATMOSPHERE
With Victory supporters barred from attending the clash, the Western Service Crew were in full voice yet in previous years a fixture of this magnitude would have provided a contrasting atmsophere.
Much of the commentary surrounding the sanctions handed down by Football Australia has been orientated around how active support would be impacted. Perhaps this evening was a sign of things to come for arguably Australia’s most supported club.
Questions will remain as to how the A-Leagues has found itself within a position whereby the code’s point of difference abundantly struggles only three weeks following the Socceroos’ spellbinding World Cup campaign.
Yet it will be up to those within the Australian Professional Leagues to search for those answers. For now, the scene of Melbourne will have to cope with subdued atmosphere at games for the time being, as the league continues to undergo a process of rehabilitation.
VICTORY CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE
Amid promising signs within the first half, Victory’s defensive frailties continued to show as Kadete’s failure to mark Josh Risdon at the back post nullified the effect of the red card.
Much has been made of Victory’s lack of creativity within the final third and despite the absence of star man Nani, the stacked forward line of Ikonomidis, Fornaroli and D’Agostino were unable to influence the tie in a manner that affected the game within the first half too much.
These problems are yet perhaps an ominous signs of things to come as the Victory potentially face harsher sanctions from the pitch invasion next month.
Melbourne Victory 0
Western United 1 (Risdon 45+1)
Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images