Victory beaten by Mariners
The Melbourne Victory have failed to rain on Matt Simon's farewell parade from the Central Coast Mariners, as the striker scored both goals in the hosts' 2-0 victory at Bluetongue Stadium on Wednesday.
Manager Mehmet Durakovic made two changes to the side that lost 3-1 to champions Brisbane, bringing in Grant Brebner for his first start since October last year and attacker Isaka Cernak, for Brazilian Fabio and Billy Celeski.
Diogo Ferreira fell into the full-back position to replace Fabio, with Brebner assuming Ferreira's spot in midfield, while Cernak was a straight swap for Celeski on the right.
The Victory defence was under immediate pressure from kick-off, as they conceded inside 20 seconds when Simon - playing his last game for the Central Coast Mariners after accepting a deal with K-League side Chunnam Dragons - fired home the opening goal.
Simon made the most of poor defending from Petar Franjic, who failed to clear a deep ball, and Troy Hearfield crossed for the striker to power home a shot past a helpless Ante Covic.
Victory responded well to produce several attacking chances shortly after, the best of which coming when striker Archie Thompson - wearing the armband due to Adrian Leijer's absence - put through Carlos Hernandez, but the Costa Rican's powerful shot on an acute angle was well saved by Mariners goalkeeper Matt Ryan.
Star recruit Harry Kewell was on song with some exquisite passing and ball control, and he put through Hernandez one-on-one with Ryan moments later, but the midfielder could only dabble a meek shot around the 'keeper, and defender Pez Bojic rushed back to clear the attempt.
Melbourne stopper Covic was equally as good as Ryan at the other end, when he saved Hearfield's half-volley from close range.
Kewell continued to look dangerous moving forward for the Victory, delivering a brilliant cross-field pass to Ferreira on the left, but the youngster's attempt on goal was blocked.
Victory looked to find an equaliser in the second half, and controlled possession early.
The Mariners, however, created a chance on the hour mark when Oliver Bozanic played in Hearfield, but a desperate tackle from Roddy Vargas kept the deficit at the solitary goal.
Melbourne dodged a bullet when Bernie Ibini's strike with 15 minutes remaining came back off the upright, and Michael McGlinchey's follow up - facing an open goal - flew over the crossbar.
Substitute Danny Allsopp was one-on-one with Ryan at the other end, but the goalkeeper made a strong save to deny an equaliser as the game turned into an end-to-end contest.
Allsopp continued to have an influence on the contest, putting a delightful ball through to Thompson with 10 minutes remaining, but the latter was ruled offside by the touchline referee.
Unfortunately for Victory, the game was killed off when Simon struck again in the final stages, tucking away a right-foot shot to Covic's near post after some loose Melbourne defence.