Decision controversy sullies a strong Victory performance

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Melbourne Victory got their noses in front twice against Sydney FC on Tuesday before being pegged back on both occasions, but it was the second equaliser that got under the skin of coach Tony Popovic.

“It was the easiest call of the match, and the referee and the linesman couldn’t figure it out between them,” he said.

He was referring to the call, or lack thereof, which saw Leigh Broxham not receive a free-kick after an alleged high-boot, which directly led to Sydney’s second goal.

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“We had a player sent off recently for the exact same type of thing, and this time around we can’t even get a free,” he said.

While the controversy may have stolen the spotlight towards the back-end of the contest, Popovic didn’t let it get in the way of him giving his side credit for a quality performance.

“Our second half was excellent, unfortunately the injury (to defender Rai Marchan) didn’t help, and then we got the short end of a referee’s decision,” he said.

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The key bright spot was Ben Folami, with the 22-year-old striker finding the back of the net in the 17th minute before setting up Robbie Kruse for his side’s second goal. He was instrumental through the final third of the pitch, and probably should’ve had another goal or two from really good chances he helped create.

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“It’s great to see a young player like that, who hasn’t played regular football for a long time, come in and produce at such a high level,” Popovic said.

“From day one of preseason he really knuckled down and had a great training block in that time, and he keeps getting better.”

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He added that consistency has been key for the youngster, who didn’t get injured all the way through pre-season and is reaping the benefits of backing up each week.

“He was very good against Adelaide, and today he managed to put two halves together,” he said.

“We moved him onto the right-wing and he caused them some problems, including setting up the second goal, on another day he probably would’ve had another one himself.”

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Popovic continued by saying he believes Folami still has plenty to develop and build upon, and “hopes” he can be an asset going forward in both FFA Cup and the rest of the A-League Men season.

“He’s a young boy who wants to improve and evolve, he had a good impact on the game today bit I know he wants to be even better,” he said.

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“He’s got to keep working hard and know that his performances are due to his hard work… we’ll do whatever we can to ensure he’s the best footballer he can be.

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Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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