Melbourne City FC saw its undefeated NPL3 streak end at nine on Sunday afternoon, going down 2-0 to Melbourne Victory at Epping Stadium.
The loss saw the gap at the top of the table closed to two points, with City still in a good position with nine fixtures remaining this season.
John Maisano made two forced changes to the starting XI that beat Doveton last week, with Luke Oresti and Justin Paolilli returning to the line-up in place of Emin Durakovic and Max Caputo.
City got off to a strong start, pressing hard and forcing a few Victory turnovers high up the pitch.
This was short-lived though, with the home side finding the opener against the run of play in the 11th minute when Adem Duratovic finished a swift moved down the right.
It would be a relatively even contest for the remainder of the first half as City looked strong in possession and cycled the ball around the pitch well.
Moonib Adus was one of City’s best performers throughout the 90 minutes, doing a mountain of work on the left and creating a number of chances.
City looked solid at the back for much of the first half following the opening goal, James Nieuwenhuizen only called into action just minutes before the break where he pulled off a great reaction stop from a point-blank header.
The second stanza couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start for the visitors, Duratovic completing his brace just seconds into the half following a mix-up in defence for City.
As was the case in the first half, City continued to get the ball into good areas but just couldn’t create the crucial chance required to pull back a goal.
Jordi Valadon and Matthew Grimaldi both had sights at goal, but perhaps City’s best chance of the contest came with little under 20 minutes to go.
A nice run down the right wing saw Luke Oresti whip in a tantalising ball for Arion Sulemani, the Golden Boot leader getting within centimetres of turning it goal-ward, but it wasn’t to be as the ball was nicked away for a corner.
City continued to press and search for a winner in the dying stages but it wasn’t to be as the Youth Derby ledger was squared at 1-1 for season 2022.
City will be looking to return to winning ways when it hosts third placed Western United at Parade College this Saturday afternoon. The clash will kick off at 3pm and its set to be another blockbuster as the Premiership race heats up.