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Victory claim Premier’s Plate with 3-1 win

Melbourne Victory have ended the 2014/15 regular season on a high, with a 3-1 win over the Mariners on Sunday sealing a return of the A-League Premier’s Plate to Victoria.

With a loss by seven goals the only way Melbourne could miss out on the Premier’s Plate, AAMI Park was in party mode well before kick-off, with 22,285 fans turning up to celebrate Victory’s first piece of silverware since the 2008/09 season.

With that unlikely margin in mind, Kevin Muscat opted to rest the newly re-signed Fahid Ben Khalfallah, with the Tunisian just one yellow card away from a suspension.

For the Mariners, with just pride to play for, Tony Walmsley made two changes, with Liam Rose in for Nick Montgomery in midfield and Matthew Nash in for the suspended Liam Reddy in goals — Nash’s first game since November 2014.

The Victory, expectedly, were out of the gates quickly. Through the first fifteen minutes, the home side dominated possession, the corner count (5 in the first quarter-hour), but couldn’t find the final ball required to break down the Mariners defence.

The Mariners had the first real chance on goal in the 18th minute, with Isaka Cernak teeing up Nick Fitzgerald to fire a volley across his body. The ball, though, went comfortably wide of the goal.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sun Apr 26, 2015, 5:00 PMStadium AAMI ParkAttendance 22,285Referee Peter Green

Central Coast

Yellow Card24′ J.RoseYellow Card31′ J.HutchinsonGoal45′ E.BosnarYellow Card45′ I.CernakYellow Card68′ E.Bosnar

Shortly after, Besart Berisha almost gave the Victory the lead. A run down the left by Archie Thompson allowed the veteran to cross to the near post for Berisha, with Eddy Bosnar arriving in the nick of time to head the ball out for yet another corner.

Eventually, though, the Victory found the goal they deserved. A fast-break out of defence through Gui Finkler and Daniel Georgievski ended with Berisha. With his back to goal, the Albanian laid the ball back on a plate for Georgievski, who guided the ball over Nash and into the far corner to make it 1-0.

Two minutes later, and the home side would double their lead. With their seventh corner, Finkler delivered a near post cross to Archie Thompson, whose flick-on header went through the legs of Nash before nestling in the back of the net.

It was Thompson’s 10th of the season, and 88th in his A-League career.

In the shadows of half-time, the Mariners would pull a goal back. A free kick for handball on Carl Valeri provided the perfect opportunity for Bosnar to line up one of his trademark, driving shots. The effort took a huge deflection off the knee of Finkler, wrong-footing Lawrence Thomas as the ball bounced over the line.

Victory regrouped, though, and just two minutes after the break, they restored the two-goal advantage.

Thompson reeled in a ball down the left wing before crossing low to Finkler in the penalty area. The Brazilian then dinked the ball over the Mariners defence to Mark Milligan, who rounded Nash and laid the ball off for Berisha to pocket his first goal at AAMI Park all season.

Matt Simon came on for Isaka Cernak in the 64th minute, joining captain John Hutchinson on the field for their last ever games for the Central Coast Mariners.

Victory should’ve made it 4-1 in the 67th minute. Kosta Barbarouses wiggled his way through the Mariners defence and, with options open either side of him, the Kiwi international decided instead to shoot. Disappointingly, the ball was poorly hit and went comfortably wide of Nash’s goal.

The game was, realistically, in cruise control for much of the second half, with the Victory attacking with ease and able to shut-down the Mariners’ at the other end of the park.

Kevin Muscat opted to rest a few of his stars late in the match, with Georgievski and Finkler replaced by Scott Galloway and Rashid Mahazi respectively.

The Mariners weren’t done by any means, though. Matt Sim went close with a lofted effort from a tight angle in the 81st minute, producing a quality save from Thomas to force a corner.

Barbarouses had the last quality chance of the game, when a deflected Thompson shot fell to him on the edge of the area. The volley, though, went just wide of Nash’s far post, with the goalkeeper stranded.

It wouldn’t matter, though, as referee Peter Green blew the whistle to signal the end of the regular season, and to confirm Melbourne Victory’s Premiership win.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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