The Melbourne Heart survived a scare as they beat a fast-finishing Australian Institute of Sport 3-2 in the National Youth League at Epping Stadium on Sunday.
It looked like the Heart were headed for a big win as they moved to an early 2-0 lead after first-half goals to Ben Garuccio and Evan Batsis rewarded their dominance.
When captain Joshua Groenewald made the margin three goals just after half-time, it seemed like there was no way back for the AIS but goals to Marc Marino and Steve Kuzmanovski gave the Heart a shock late on.
The hosts dominated early on and after two minutes Garuccio hooked a shot over the bar from inside the six-yard box before he opened the scoring three minutes later.
A Cameron Edwards corner was smashed straight at AIS goalkeeper Andre Jannese from point-blank by Groenewald and Garuccio was on hand to sweep home the rebound.
It was not long until the Heart found a second as Batsis fired a first-time shot into the corner after Paulo Retre's through ball in the 23rd minute.
Groenewald should have made it three on 33 minutes when, for the second time in the match, his point-blank effort hit the 'keeper after Batsis' cutback.
The score remained 2-0 at the break but Heart extended their advantage shortly after when Jannese brought down Groenewald in the area and the skipper dispatched the resulting penalty into the right corner.
The home side were looking comfortable until 55 minutes when Retre brought down Marino who, with AIS's first shot of the day, slotted the penalty past Alastair Bray.
The three-goal advantage should have been restored with Groenewald and substitute Quinn McDonald missing golden chances before the AIS nicked another one back.
A driving run by Kuzmanovski in the 80th minute saw the attacker reach the edge of the area and fire a shot that clipped Bray's glove and rolled into the corner.
Substitute Wade Decker missed a glorious one-on-one opportunity with the 'keeper to seal the game for the Heart and while the AIS tried hard to find an equaliser, the home defence stood up in the end.
Melbourne Heart 3 (Garuccio 5, Batsis 23, Groenewald 48p)
Australian Institute of Sport 2 (Marino 56p, Kuzmanovski 80)
Melbourne Heart : 1. Alastair Bray (GK) , 2. Phillip Petreski, 3. Andrew Cartanos (12. Quinn McDonald 61), 4. Andrew Mullett, 5. William Abbott, 6. Joshua Groenewald (C) (3. Andrew Cartanos 90), 7. Ersin Kaya, 8. Paulo Retre, 9. Evan Batsis (14. Wade Decker 45), 10. Cameron Edwards (15. Ricardo Gonzales 61), 11. Ben Garuccio
Yellow Cards: Kaya 11, Retre 55, Groenewald 89, Decker 94
Australian Institute of Sport: 5. Matthew Schmidt, 6. Matthew Ntoumenopulus (C) (15. Liam Youley 59), 7. Steve Kuzmanovski, 9. Todd Norris (2. Darcy Madden 54), 10. Dylan Smith (22. Liam Rose 59), 11. Marc Marino, 12. Mark Ochieng, 17. Anthony Kalik, 20. Andre Jannese (GK), 21. George Timotheou, 23. Rocco Pizzata
Yellow Card: Pizzata 45