The monkey appears to be off the back for the Melbourne Victory who ended their run of six games without a win. In front of the Victory faithful, they’d secure a 3-1 win over the Wellington Phoenix in slippery conditions at AAMI Park.
Coming into the fixture sitting bottom of the table, pressure mounting on coach Tony Popovic and the season starting to be viewed as write-off with finals looking more and more unlikely by the week, the Victory appeared to have turned their fortunes around in what was an encouraging performance.
Having been criticised for the past month and a half for looking directionless, signs were ominous in the early stages of the contest that it’d be more of the same going a goal down early.
Having been in hot form coming into the fixture, it was no surprise that Oskar Zawada opened proceedings inside the opening 15 minutes. The Pole made it five goals in five matches, having found space in the middle of the box, it was a case of right place right time for the 27-year-old firing a header to the top left corner having been spotted up perfectly by Joshua Laws.
Having started off on the back foot, the Victory eased their way back into the game, equalising in the 32nd minute through Bruno Fornaroli who’d break his goalless drought. Fornaroli intially cut it back for skipper Josh Brillante who has his shot blocked by Nix shot-stopper Oli Sail. The rebound falling perfectly at the feet of Fornaroli who found the back of the net in open play for the first time in Victory colours.
Having been lacklustre in the opening stages of the contest, the goal sparked the home side to life, with defenders Roderick Miranda and Cadete going close to finding the net not too long after.
With scores locked at 1-1 at half time, the Victory wasted little time completing the comeback, finding the go-ahead goal inside the opening 10 minutes of the second half courtesy of a Jake Brimmer free kick.
Having been brought down on the edge of the box, he’d step up with a brilliant freekick, firing into the top right corner of the net.
Deep into stoppage time Tomi Juric would score the sealer, having come off the bench it’d be his first goal since joining the Victory in the offseason.
Coming away with a 3-1 win, the result may prove to be a turning point in what has been a disappointing campaign thus far.
Though on life support, Victory are still alive
Without a win in six fixtures to their name and still sitting at the bottom of the table coming into tonight’s clash, the Victory are still alive. With the season tipping just past the halfway mark, the top six is not mathematically out of reach.
In what has been one of the tightest seasons in recent years, the Victory while current occupants of the wooden spoon position on the table sit just four points adrift from the top six.
Having putting in a better showing than in recent weeks and against a strong opposition, this may be the result the Victory need to get their season back on track and make a late season charge for a finals appearance.
Pressure off Popovic for now
With accusations the players had checked out and the side struggling to pick up points, Popovic’s job looked very much in jeopardy not even two full seasons into his stint as Melbourne boss.
Following a poor run of form he’d sleep a little easier tonight following the side’s performance, taking all three points from a fixture for the first time since the new year.
Tactically Popovic got it right against the Nix and aided with his side getting a much needed win, the pressure eases just a little bit.
Zawada’s on fire
No strangers to finding diamonds in the rough, the recruitment of Zawada is proving to be one the club’s more shrewd pieces of businesses, even for Wellington’s standards.
The 27-year-old has put in a remarkable past month of football, having netted in each of the Phoenix’s past five games, having scored nine in 15 appearances.
Having struggled to find consistency in his career thus, he hasn’t missed a beat since joining the Phoenix and is emerging into one of the more threatening strikers in the competition. Though his side were unable to get a result of their road trip, it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying with Zawada being threatening throughout night and proving to be a talisman for his side.