There is no better indicator of the disconnect between Melbourne Victory’s board and the club’s sizeable fan-base than the fact they lost the derby at a stadium no fans want to go to.
In an odd yet interesting sight, Western United fronted AAMI Park as the home side against the Melbourne Victory in a restricted capacity stadium where both sides put on a clinic, exciting the 7000 fans despite the 0-0 result.
The green seats of the stadium proved a valuable backdrop for the fixture and despite the fact that it was difficult to find space in between lines for both Victory and WU, the disallowed goals which were avidly celebrated by Western United provided entertainment. Kerem Bulut-esque in Dylan Pierias’ case. This clash was arguably one of the most exciting scoreless fixtures in recent A-league memory in a fixture partially overshadowed by VAR controversy.
Who were the standouts for both sides?
1. Filip Kurto: Rating – 8.5
He demonstrated his veteran status with moments of quality, parrying the ball away from long shots from the Victory. That save from Birkan Kirdar in the dying moments was an illustration of his outstanding performance. For one of the largely underrated keepers in the competition, he put on an avid showing.
2. Alessandro Diamanti: Rating – 8
Alino was class as always, moving the ball with aplomb and displayed his exceptional passing technique and vision. His set-pieces often were wayward but his two crossbar-hitting shots from outside the box had both sets fans on edge and set the stage for a fiery final five minutes. A fine performance for the Italian.
3. Victor Sanchez: Rating – 7.5
His ball to Connor Pain led to the segment of play where Besart Berisha fired away, yet unfortunately, Pain was offside. The Spanish veteran looked strong in all facets of the game, linking up extremely well with Pain on the left. A tidy performance for Sanchez with his strong footballing IQ on display.
4. Connor Pain: Rating – 7
Combining with Berisha to make some positive strides in the attack, he looked comfortable on the wing. His hard work was rewarded in the 36th minute where his blocked shots led to a short pass to Berisha which was finished effectively. Yet it was called for offside as Sanchez’s initial pass was picked up by Pain in an offside position. His frustration emanating from the disallowed goal likely led to his yellow card early, but he continues his positive run of form this season.
Honourable mention: Aaron Calver
1. Adama Traore: Rating – 8
Traore illustrated his vision early in the contest, setting up Jake Brimmer for a shot which was blocked five minutes in. Despite his injury early into stoppage time in the first half, his crosses were immaculate as he dashed down the wing where he heavily influenced the contest.
2. Ryan Shotton: Rating – 7.5
The new arrival looked nervy in the opening phases, often struggling to clear the ball away from Western United’s press and making an unforced error whilst attempting to move the ball to Traore on the left side. However, as the game progressed he acclimatised to the movements of WU’s attacking front three, thriving in transition as he sporadically made forward runs through the heart of WU’s midfield.
3. Jacob Butterfield: Rating – 7
His shot early in the contest was unfortunate not to go past Kurto as he was effective from long range. He was outstanding in most facets of the game, moving the ball with ease with his long balls. His style of football complimented his side with his football nous and experience.
4. Jake Brimmer: Rating – 7
Brimmer’s strong footballing vision was on display as he displaced plenty of tenacity in midfield, finding Victory’s wing-backs effectively. He looks more comfortable in the navy blue than ever before, with Brimmer emerging as a potential midfield candidate for the Olyroos.
Honourable mention: Marco Rojas