Melbourne Victory substitute Lleyton Brooks struck deep into stoppage time to earn his side an important point in a 1-1 Melbourne Derby draw with Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Sunday afternoon.
Victory were facing the prospect of a club-first wooden spoon as City opened up a one-goal advantage through a Nick Ansell own goal in the 54th minute before Brooks emerged from the bench to restore parity in the 95th minute of play, ensuring his side moved back above Newcastle Jets into 11th spot on the A-League table.
City were without Socceroos trio Curtis Good, Connor Metcalfe and Jamie Maclaren for the Melbourne Derby, with the inexperienced Raphael Borges Rodrigues replacing Maclaren up front for the Premiers. Borges Rodrigues combined to good effect with fellow City teenager Marco Tilio in the first half, with the latter testing Victory ‘keeper Matt Acton three times throughout the opening 45 minutes.
City took the lead shortly after the break when Naoki Tsubaki’s cross from the right side of the 18-yard box diverted off Ansell’s outstretched leg past Acton into the back of the net.
The Premiers looked to have found a sealing goal in second-half stoppage time but scorer Anthony Lesiotis was flagged offside, allowing Brooks to get down the other end to score the all-important equaliser in the 95th minute of play.
Victory were put under the pump in the first half by a City attack led by Borges Rodrigues and Tilio who showed their eagerness to quickly spark up a dynamic forward partnership in the absence of Socceroo Maclaren.
Tilio gave Acton an early test with a shot from distance, which the Victory ‘keeper spilled before jumping forward to collect. The City forward then combined with Borges Rodrigues to mount a surging counter attack from a Victory corner in the 24th minute.
Tilio brushed past Victory defender Adama Traore after receiving the ball from Borges Rodrigues and attempted to dink the ball over Acton, who got out fast enough to put a strong glove on the ball and divert it away from danger.
The City pair were at it again minutes later, terrorising Victory’s defence with another sharp piece of attacking play as Borges Rodrigues fed Tilio through with a back-heeled pass before Acton came to the fore once more to deny the teenage City starlet.
As the first half ticked into stoppage time Victory gave City a reminder of their capabilities going forward when Ben Folami burst through Aiden O’Neill and Adrián Luna to attack down the left wing. Folami found Callum McManaman who shot toward the right side of goal, only narrowly missing the target.
Disaster struck for the hosts eight minutes after half-time when Tsubaki forced a mistake out of Ansell in defence which led to the first goal of the game. Tsubaki received the ball played by Scott Galloway to the byline inside the penalty area and looked to fire a low cross past the goal face, but Ansell’s touch ensured the ball went on target, past Acton and into the back of the net.
City looked to put the game to bed in second-half stoppage time when mounting a counter attack sparked by a Tilio run down the right wing. City got numbers forward as the options opened up for Tilio, who ultimately chose to feed the ball to Ben Garrucio’s feet on the edge of the box.
With one touch Garrucio found Galloway, who crossed to Lesiotis at the back post to finish – the flag stayed down on the play, but a VAR check found Lesiotis in an offside position as Galloway fed the pass for him to finish, and the score stayed at 1-0 in City’s favour.
That advantage was to last just minutes as Victory found an unlikely equaliser with 95 minutes on the clock.
A late corner was swung into City’s defensive box by Butterfield and the Premiers failed to clear, with the ball ricocheting off a number of heads before falling to the feet of Brooks who struck on the volley toward goal.
The attempt beat Tom Glover in goal, nestling into the top-right corner to earn Victory a point in a tight Melbourne Derby.
Match Details – Elimination Finals
Central Coast Mariners v Macarthur FC
Saturday, June 12 2021
Central Coast Stadium
Kick-off: 7.05pm AEST
Brisbane Roar v Adelaide United
Sunday, June 13 2021
Moreton Daily Stadium
Kick-off: 3.05pm AEST