Makarounas brace inspires Victory

Melbourne Victory welcomed Western Sydney Wanderers to Lakeside Stadium on February 1 for their Round 14 clash of the Foxtel National Youth League.

With just one point separating the two sides on the table prior to kick-off, it was expected to be a closely fought contest, however the early stages belonged to Melbourne Victory.

The hosts were having most of their joy down the left wing, with Connor Pain and Dylan Murnane linking up well to create a number of early chances. 

It was this route that led to the opening goal in the 12th minute, when Murnane pushed forward and crossed from the left, and while his cross was cleared short by the Wanderers defender, Jesse Makarounas was ready and waiting picking it up on the edge of the box and driving it into the bottom left corner for the opener.

By this stage Victory were dominating the match and after a driving run from Pain, he played in a charging Murnane whose shot was parried by the keeper and put out for a corner. 

The resulting corner then found the head of rising central defender Milos Ridesic, whose header was just inches wide of finding the net and giving the home team a two-goal buffer.

Darren Davies’ boys pushed on for the rest of the half and close attempts from a Pain long shot and a Makarounas free kick kept Wanderers hemmed in, while any move forward was quickly quashed by the impressive Melbourne Victory back four. 

They then extended their lead in the 44th minute when Pain won the ball back on the half way line and raced through the Western Sydney defence working through them like they were nailed to the ground. Then with only the keeper to beat, his left foot drive across goal found the bottom right corner of the net to give them a 2-0 half-time lead.

Western Sydney started brightly in the second half, however Melbourne Victory were proving too clinical in attack and added a third through Makarounas in the 52nd minute. 

After a neat one-two, Makarounas was fouled just outside the 18-yard box. He stepped up to take the free kick and while the goalkeeper was setting his wall, Makarounas cheekily played it early and slid the ball into the bottom left corner, catching the Wanderers defence completely unaware. 

The second half continued to play out much like the first with the Melbourne Victory midfield in complete control, while the defensive pairing of Ridesic and Damien Miskulin were outstanding. 

This was showcased again in the later stages of the game when Wanderers forward Richard Darko broke through the Victory defence and while he looked like he was through, Ridesic ran him down and forced Darko into a shot from a tight angle, which was well saved by Lawrence Thomas.

Victory came very close to adding a fourth in injury time, but were unable to score and the match finished in a 3-0 win to Melbourne Victory.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Jesse Makarounas 12’, 52′, Connor Pain 44’)

Western Sydney Wanderers 0