Hyundai A-League Season 6

Victory back on song
By Alan Clark

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 6
3pm, Sunday 12 September, 2010
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 3

(Tom Pondeljak 51', Ricardinho 56', Grant Brebner 71')
Brisbane Roar FC 0

(Linked from FFA web site)

Melbourne Victory set aside a defensive first half to over-run Brisbane Roar three-nil at the Melbourne Football Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Tom Pondeljak got the party started with the opening goal six minutes after his half-time introduction. Ricardinho made it two shortly after when he took advantage of Luke DeVere's poor guarding of the ball, and poked it through the defender's legs over the line.

And energetic midfielder Grant Brebner made the points safe midway through the half with a right-foot thunderbolt from 20 yards.

By then, Roar was a dispirited side, seeking to negotiate the remainder of the encounter without further trauma. Only in the game's last minutes, when Victory was down to ten men after captain Kevin Muscat turned his right ankle four minutes from time and all three substitutes had already taken the field, did Roar put together a rejoinder. Defender Milan Susak twice broke through, the first defied by desperate defending from Surat Suhka, the second - deep in added time - requiring the otherwise under-engaged Victory goalkeeper Michael Petkovic to make a brave blocked save.

Brisbane was without livewire forward Henrique from the game's first moments, needing to be replaced with a broken arm suffered as he landed heavily following a typically direct Muscat challenge. Muscat had not fouled the Brazilian, but the physics of the collision sent the lighter player tumbling, landing awkwardly on his arm which failed to withstand the force.

Kosta Barbarouses came on as his replacement, but he in turn was substituted as part of a double-change initiated on the hour as Roar coach Ange Postecoglou sought to shake things up immediately after his side conceded the second goal.

Coming into the game, Roar had not conceded. Its eight competition points had been built on that, with just two converted goals of its own. Clearly this was a highly defensive unit, and perhaps the reason the first half remained scoreless.

Likely also as an influence, was Victory's habit of conceding, and the relative insecurity of Petkovic when handling over his head. There was reason for Victory pursuing a game-plan which kept Roar away from the danger-area.

And so, despite much midfield energy being expended, and players of both teams pressing when not in possession, no clear first-half chances were created. Petkovic had remained untested. Michael Theoklitos at the other end had been tested just the once, diverting Carlos Hernandez' goal-bound free-kick mid-way through the half over the bar.

Merrick signalled a more adventurous approach with his double-change at the interval. Pondeljak and Billy Celeski had been brought on for Geoff Kellaway and Mate Djuganzic respectively. Victory's midfield creativity stocks rose accordingly.

It wasn't long for the change in personnel to produce a dividend, but it arose in circumstances which Postecoglou will long fume about. DeVere had been fed a goal-kick deep in the right-back position. With Victory pressing, DeVere sought to find Matt Smith by playing a pass across goal. Smith was wrong-footed, and Pondeljak came storming in to take control. Now with three Roar players seeking to crowd him out, Pondeljak feinted to play a pass to Brebner who had made an overlapping run to his right, then swivelled to shoot low to the far post beyond Theoklitos.

It was the first time Theoklitos had been bested this season. Five minutes later came the second.

Once again DeVere was central, committing another error not usually seen outside a school game. Ricardinho had been given possession in the inside-left position, and nut-megged DeVere as he skipped towards goal.

If DeVere thought that embarrassing, what arose seconds later was mortifying. Ricardinho moved forward, but played a ball marginally too far for him to easily regain. DeVere, now back to cover, sought to shepherd it to the hands of Theoklitos, but insufficiently guarded it, leaving his feet well apart. Ricardinho, seeing the gift, poked the ball from behind, past the stunned Theoklitos and into goal.

Melbourne was now playing the game with supreme confidence, and had a strangle-hold on events. So it was no surprise when a third goal arose. After seemingly toying with the Roar defence, Victory was encamped around the Roar penalty-area, sweeping the ball from left to centrally and back again. In its last swing, Hernandez found Ricardinho from the left, Ricardinho returned the favour as Hernandez came inside, then Hernandez laid the ball back into Brebner's path just outside the area.

Once a season or so, Brebner latches onto such a ball. When he senses the situation is right, he sets aim and launches an exocet as he did in this instance.

Hernandez had been set up in similar range just minutes earlier and his shot found the touch-line. Brebner's was a net-buster from the moment it left his boot.

As the game entered added time, Petkovic again showed his uncertainty with a high ball, spilling from a corner, but redeemed himself with a point-blank block of Susak's late attempt at a consolation.

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 6
3pm, Sunday 12 September, 2010
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 3

(Tom Pondeljak 51', Ricardinho 56', Grant Brebner 71')
Brisbane Roar FC 0

    Crowd: 13,792


    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    (4-3-3) 1. Michael Petkovic (gk), 23 Adrian Leijer, 2 Kevin Muscat (c), 12 Rodrigo Vargas, 5 Surat Sukha, 16 Carlos Hernandez, 8 Grant Brebner, 6 Leigh Broxham, 3 Mate Dugandzic (14 Billy Celeski [46]), 9 Ricardinho (11 Marvin Angulo [72]), 27 Geoff Kellaway (15 Tom Pondeljak [46]).

    Substitutes not used: 20. Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: Ernie Merrick

    Yellow Cards: Broxham [74], Brebner [90+1]
    Red Cards: Nil

    Brisbane Roar FC :
    Player listing:
    (4-3-3) 1. Michael Theoklitos (gk), 23 Milan Susak, 3 Luke DeVere, 2 Matt Smith, 4 Shane Steffanutto, 8 Massimo Murdocca (17 Mitch Nicols [59]), 6 Erik Paartalu, 15 Matt McKay, 10 Henrique (7 Kosta Barbarouses [6] (9 Jean Carlo Solorzano [59])), 11 Reinaldo, 22 Thomas Broich.

    Substitutes not used: 20 Andrew Redmayne (rgk)

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Nichols [77]
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Ryan Shepheard
    Assistants: Luke Brennan, Shaun Evans; Fourth Official: Alex Azcurra

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 8/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Grant Brebner (Melbourne Victory)
    2. Carlos Hernandez (Melbourne Victory)
    1. Ricardinho (Melbourne Victory)

    Match Report by

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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