John Aloisi’s frantic Friday night phone call that instantly started an A-Leagues career

Check out the highlights as Melbourne Victory took on Western United in an absolute classic at AAMI Park in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

There was heartbreak for Western United under the AAMI Park lights on Tuesday night, but there was also pride in the eyes of head coach John Aloisi.

Aloisi watched from the sidelines as Melbourne Victory dramatically scored in the 95th and 98th minute to stun a depleted Western outfit 2-1 in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

This was a Western side bottom of the standings and without suspended pair Josh Risdon and James Donachie, as well as Ben Garuccio, Ramy Najjarine, Riku Danzaki, Connor O’Toole, Jacob Tratt and Oliver Lavale.

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It meant a debut for 20-year-old academy graduate Khoder Kaddour and a second start for Charbel Shamoon (19), while defender Kane Vidmar (also 19) slotted into the heart of defence for the eighth appearance of his rookie Isuzu UTE A-League campaign.

“Proud as well because we had eight contracted players unavailable, plus Daniel Penha going off pretty early in the second half,” Aloisi told reporters post-match.

“But the young boys, they stood up. Our full-backs Kaddour and Charbel, they did well. Proud of them.

“Kane Vidmar’s only played a handful of games and then comes up against Bruno Fornaroli. Then Victory are bringing on fresh players who have real good experience.”

Charbel Shamoon

Western had led 1-0 thanks to a sublime Daniel Penha strike, however, the Brazilian star was forced from the field after injuring himself while celebrating.

As Aloisi’s inexperienced defence tried to survive a Victory onslaught, 18-year-old academy star James York earned his second A-Leagues appearance.

“We tried to bring on some fresh legs in midfield and then go five in the midfield to help those young boys at full-back,” Aloisi said. “We were looking to try to help them as much as possible but the boys we were bringing on were all kids as well.

“Yorky has only played one game. (Matthew) Grimaldi has only started two. Rhys Bozinovski’s been in and out but he hasn’t started a lot of football.”

It was a big learning curve for Western, especially after such a quick turnaround for youngsters like Kaddour.

On the same night Western defeated Newcastle Jets 2-0 in Isuzu UTE A-League action at AAMI Park, the club’s VPL 1 side went up against Northcote City on Friday night.

Kaddour played 70 minutes in the loss to Northcote, while York scored and Aloisi’s staff desperately scrambled to ensure the youngster was taken off in light of the events at AAMI Park.

“You have to remember our younger boys – we didn’t realise Kaddour would have to play so he played on Friday night as well with the NPL team,” Aloisi said.

“We tried to get on the phone straight away as soon as we found out that Josh Risdon and James Donachie were suspended. Then he had already played 70 minutes.

“But they are going to fatigue. Plus the nervous energy. That’s the biggest crowd they’ve played in front of. They biggest game they’ve played in their career. Whether it’s (Daniel) Arzani or someone else, they were fresh.”

Meanwhile, Victory boss Tony Popovic hailed Daniel Arzani following his performance off the bench on Tuesday night.

Arzani’s name was in the headlines following Popovic’s tense response to a question after substituting the Victory attacker in Saturday’s 0-0 Melbourne Derby draw.

The 25-year-old responded with a pair of last-gasp assists to help Victory snap their six-match winless streak.

“Very impressive. He is a player that, it’s the second game this season he hasn’t started and the most minutes he’s played in a season,” Popovic said post-match.

“He knows what I think of him as a player and person. I don’t need to talk about that too much here.

“I thought the first 20 minutes he was trying really hard to be the difference, maybe trying too hard. Then the last 25-30 minutes, he was just outstanding with his decision making which is another step forward for him.”

There was also a moment between the Victory players as they came together in a circle following the match.

“That’s not a directive from me. I didn’t know about it until I was told by the staff that the players did that. It’s just an indication how close this group is and how much belief they have,” said Popovic.

“I don’t know what was said but it’s clear it’s a collective the group is together.”