Following three draws in a row the Bulls travelled to AAMI Park to take on a much improved Melbourne Victory side for Thursday night football.
The inclusion of Markel Susaeta back into the starting side was almost immediately felt, after he found some open space in transition finding Lachlan Rose, who provided a great cross looking to find Matt Derbyshire inside the 6 yard box.
The Bulls looked dangerous in the opening 20 minutes, settling into a familiar pattern of dominating possession in the early stages, when a misjudged pass from Lachlan Rose to Charles M’Mombwa saw Victory capitalise on the mistake in transition.
Victory's Elvis Kamsober was the benefactor in the 22nd minute, giving the home side the lead.
The Bulls wouldn’t be trailing for too long, with Markel Susaeta hitting back just 8 minutes later. With Victory trying to play out from the back, Beñat swooped on a loose ball on the edge of the box, feeding Susaeta to the left and the Spaniard levelled the scores on the half hour mark with a tightly angled finish.
The Bulls were fortunate to head into the break 1-1 after a flurry of chances for Victory to round out the half, most notably a stunning Jake Brimmer free kick, thundering into Federici’s crossbar.
Settling into the second half, the Bulls thought they’d found the lead through Jake McGing, when he picked up the crumbs off a Beñat corner, only to be overturned by VAR after an accidental handball in the box by James Meredith.
10 minutes later, Meredith secured the lead for the Bulls off another quality Beñat corner, this time keeping his hands well clear. Leaping high above the pack for and getting the ball down under Victory keeper Matt Acton at the far post.
With 16 shots to 5 in the second half, Victory pushed hard to level the scores again, but some desperation in defence from Liam Rose and Mark Milligan, plus a number of crucial saves from gloveman Adam Federici, saw the Bulls take all three points away from Melbourne.
The win elevates the Bulls to equal second and importantly provides a buffer from the teams knocking on the fringe of the top six.
After scoring the match wining goal, James Meredith said at full time:
“It was an important game for us and a good to secure the three points tonight.”
“Victory piled on the pressure in the second half, we had to concentrate and make sure we didn’t give them anything.”
“I’m pleased to score my first goal for the team, but now we need to refocus on next week. Tonight, we started off slow and we need to fix that to win back at our place on Friday.” Meredith said.
Bulls Captain Mark Milligan said on Fox Sports after the match:
It’s hard when you play teams like Victory. You need to keep up the intensity and do what you normally do. For the most part we did that tonight, although the little lapses we will need to fix and focus a little more for next Friday back at Campbelltown.” Milligan said.