Hyundai A-League Season 6

Yellow curtain holds out Victory
By Alan Clark

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 13
7:00pm Saturday 6 November 2010
Docklands Stadium, Melbourne

Melbourne Victory FC 0>
lost to
Gold Coast United FC 1
(og. Rodrigo Vargas 55')

(Linked from FFA site)

Gold Coast defeated Melbourne Victory one-nil at Docklands Stadium on Saturday evening, weathering first-half one-way traffic behind an effective defensive wall, and then capturing the game when Victory central defender Rody Vargas put into his own net ten minutes into the second half, diverting Adama Traore's cross intended for Joel Porter.

Gold Coast's defensive deliberations redoubled after the goal, with coach Miron Bleiberg determined to hang on to all three match-points in a contest where the hosts ran out of ideas despite having the greater share of the ball.

Not even the introduction of Archie Thompson, returning to the side after many months of rehabilitation from a knee-injury, was enough to tip the scales in Melbourne's favour.

Gold Coast erected a solid defensive curtain after going ahead, and Victory's game-plan was insufficiently creative to make a breakthrough. It was a dispiriting result for the hosts, especially in contrast with the sparkling home display against Adelaide just a week before.

Victory looked well in control for the entirety of the first half, but despite the clear disparity of possession, failed to find the net. Billy Celeski and Grant Brebner constantly made themselves available as link-men, feeding passes wide left and right, but were unable to prompt their speedsters into getting behind the Gold Coast defence. Indeed, Gold Coast seemed content to allow Melbourne to have the ball and lie deep, perhaps relying on one decisive break on the counter.

And although the possession stats were overwhelmingly in Melbourne's favour, the ball moved back and forward in the middle of the pitch, rarely being played into the final third. On the few occasions it was, Gold Coast goalkeeper Glen Moss was alert enough to make a critical save or punch.

Moss was one of three recent Victory players now with the Gold Coast. His defensive colleagues Steve Pantelidis and Michael Thwaite were once also very familiar with the Dockland Stadium surrounds and the Victory players. Pantelidis, on one of the few Gold Coast forward forays of the first half, re-acquainted himself with Victory captain Kevin Muscat, tangling with him as the ball cleared the area these two battle-welcoming combatants had occupied, and requiring referee Peter Green to step in when the ball next went out of play. By this time, however, their animosity had waned, and both had made up, likely in mutual appreciating of each other's warrior-like reluctance to back down in the pursuit of their teams' interests.

Throughout the half, Victory supporters were tantalised by the presence on the bench of Thompson - a clear and terribly-missed favourite, making his first appearance on a Melbourne team-sheet since his Grand Final knee injury. He extensively warmed up during the interval, with most hoping that were he introduced, he'd be able to take advantage of Victory's possession monopoly, and pose harder problems for the Gold Coast defence than those who wore blue in the first half.

His first touch started the second-half, as Victory coach Ernie Merrick swapped him for the youthful Mate Dugandzic. Dugandzic had covered plenty of ground with typical energetic hard-running, but had not produced the penetration Victory's possession demanded.

But Gold Coast carved out the first two decent chances of the second-half. Brebner took the ball off the lively Ben Halloran after a fine run up the left by Anderson who'd been found from a Culina free-kick on the halfway line. Anderson played it quickly up the line to Traore whose cross was a telling one. Halloran wasn't quite as sharp as he should have been given his proximity to goal, allowing Brebner a last-gasp chance to avert disaster. Halloran had found the side-netting in the first half, and had required the combined attentions of Muscat and Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic to prevent him breaking through earlier in the game.

Minutes later, Pantelidis, again up the left, launched a fine cross to an unmarked Joel Porter, but Porter's attempt at a header was unconvincing, scarcely diverting the ball's path.

The vulnerability on Melbourne's right side wasn't attended to, and it was by this avenue Melbourne went behind ten minutes after the break. Traore had been fed by Porter at the halfway line from Jason Culina's forward pass - again Culina was at the heart of most of Gold Coast's best work. Porter sprinted off centrally in support and was in the right position to take advantage of Traore's inevitable cross. Vargas, under pressure from Porter's fast approaching presence, sought to play the ball over the goal-line, only to see his header crash into Petkovic's net.

It was a signal for both coaches to change their line-ups. Merrick brought on midfielder Marvin Angulo for defender Adrian Leijer. Bleiberg withdrew Halloran and Porter shortly after, bringing on Robson and Chris Harold respectively.

Thompson took a while to get into the game, but did so to good effect not long after the hour, finding Angulo at the far post after wriggling though into the penalty-area. Angulo only just failed to get a decisive touch and Moss gathered.

It was a rare Melbourne breakthrough, and to the voluble objections of the 15,000 attendance, was about as dangerous as Melbourne was going to be that game.

With all three Melbourne substitutions made, Robbie Kruse suffered an upper thigh injury, and although he remained on the park, was ineffective for the last ten minutes, clearly unable to run.

The Gold Coast curtain held fast, giving the visitors the dogged win which keeps Bleiberg's men in touch with the top pair.

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 13
7:00pm Saturday 6 November 2010
Docklands Stadium, Melbourne

Melbourne Victory FC 2
(Robbie Kruse 21', Carlos Hernandez 68')
Adelaide United FC 1
(Iain Fyfe 1')

    Crowd: 15,534


    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    (3-4-3) 1. Michael Petkovic (gk), 23 Adrian Leijer (11 Marvin Angulo +59'), 2 Kevin Muscat (c), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 15 Tom Pondeljak, 8 Grant Brebner, 14 Billy Celeski, 5 Surat Sukha (6 Leigh Broxham +70'), 3 Mate Dugandzic (10 Archie Thompson +46'), 16 Carlos Hernandez, 21 Robbie Kruse
    Substitutes not used: 20. Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: Ernie Merrick

    Yellow Cards: '
    Red Cards: Nil

    Gold Coast United FC :
    Player listing:
    (4-3-3) 1. Glen Moss (gk), 2 Steve Pantelidis, 6 Dino Djulbic, 3 Michael Thwaite, 8 Anderson (16 Kristian Rees +81'), 7 Zenon Caravella, 10 Jason Culina (c), 13 Sebastian van den Brink, 26 Ben Halloran (5 Robson +63'), 14 Joel Porter (27 Chris Harold +59), 22 Adama Traore.
    Substitutes not used: 30. Jerrad Tyson (rgk)

    Coach: Miron Bleiberg

    Yellow Cards: Glen Moss 84', Adama Traore 90'+5
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green
    AR1: Shaun Evans, AR2: James Nicolopoulos; FO: Kevin Docherty

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    Game rating: 6/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Jason Culina (Gold Coast United)
    2. Billy Celeski (Melbourne Victory)
    1. Anderson (Gold Coast United)

    Match Report by Alan Clark

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. FFA has not this season accredited any Photographers for BOTN, so any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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