Archie relieved with successful return

Striker Archie Thompson said he was the most nervous he'd been before a game after his successful return from a long injury layoff in Melbourne Victory's 1-0 loss to Gold Coast United at Etihad Stadium.

Striker Archie Thompson said he was the most nervous he'd been before a game after his successful return from a long injury layoff in Melbourne Victory's 1-0 loss to Gold Coast United at Etihad Stadium.

While Victory endured a frustrating evening, with Rody Vargas's own goal the only goal to separate the sides in an otherwise dominant performance from Melbourne, Thompson was relieved just to get through unscathed.

Victory's leading marksman replaced Mate Dugandzic after half-time, acquitting himself well in his first hit out since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in last season's grand final loss to Sydney, but admitted nerves almost got the better of him.

"It was probably (the most) nervous I've been coming into a game," a relieved Thompson said.

"It's hard work coming back from a knee (injury) and there was always the thought of maybe doing it again. I felt great after I think it was two or three tackles in and got through that and got that confidence back."

"The goal for me really was to get through a few tackles and I managed to do that and the confidence came back, at the moment, that's the first game I've played in about (eight) months and I've still got two left feet, so once I sort that out and I get the fitness back I'm hoping I can be a bit more a part of the team and get a few wins on the board."

While Thompson was chuffed with his input much like Ernie Merrick was, the coach was left to lament a host of missed opportunities that cost his side the chance to pick up what would have been a deserved three points.

"It was a very frustrating result, it surprised us from the point of view that Gold Coast came out and tried to defend and play a counter-attacking game, not their normal game with flair," Merrick bemoaned.

"That gave us the initiative in the first 15 minutes, we virtually played the ball in their half, had several chances and didn't take them."

"When Rody (Vargas) scored an own goal, which was very unfortunate because he had a good game … I didn't think they were going to score from anything other than a cross. When we went one down they just completely defended after that so it was very blocked up on the edge of the penalty area, they had nine players there."

And Merrick was adamant the problem for Victory remained in the final third of the pitch, which explained his obvious delight at Thompson's return, whose night's work he described as 'excellent'.

"We were only going to give him half an hour but I thought: 'I'll stick him on at half-time and if we need to we'll take him off in the last 15 (minutes)', we saved Marvin (Angulo) for that. He felt good he was causing trouble up front."

"It all comes down to the front third … to scoring goals and that's the real frustration here, so having Archie back is a big plus."

"I thought Archie made an enourmous difference when he came on but that's when Robbie (Kruse) virtually got injured and struggled through, I thought Carlos didn't have his best game, he found it very difficult to find space and put quality balls through."

Kruse, who'd been on fire with four goals from his past four outings, struggled with a thigh complaint soon after Thompson's introduction and joins fellow striker Ricardinho on the injury list.

"We get one striker back and we seem to have lost one and we've lost Ricardinho as well," Merrick said.

While there was no news as to the severity of Kruse's injury, Merrick admitted 'it didn't look good' while he said defender Matthew Kemp would return in the National Youth League on Sunday and could feature in next week's clash at home to Central Coast Mariners.